20 August 2020

Netflix: How Hans Zimmer brought their iconic sonic logo to the big screen

Expert comment
‘Ta-dum’. Just four seconds of audio and you know exactly where you are – you’re sat on your couch getting ready to binge-watch your favourite show on the world’s most popular streaming platform.

In just a few years, Netflix’s sonic logo has become one of the most iconic in history, the envy of many brands, and a sound-clip heard millions of times every single day. But ahead of their move into original cinematic releases, they needed to revamp their logo and create a new sound – one that takes you out of your home and into the theatre. For that, there was only one name that made sense: Hans Zimmer.


Cinematic royalty

Hans Zimmer’s relationship with Netflix dates back to The Crown, a show for which he created a powerful opening title theme fit for a Queen. And this established association – as revealed in a recent Netflix-centered episode of the Twenty Thousand Hertz podcast – played a key role in their decision to commission the German composer.

Thanks to his blockbuster back catalogue of work ranging from Inception to Dunkirk – films universally lauded for their soundscapes – they had no doubt he could create an epic piece to showcase their arrival into the cinematic universe, but they also knew he understood the brand and what they wanted to achieve. The main goal here was to retain the iconic elements of their sonic logo, just with a big-screen makeover.


The journey from small screen to big screen

So what was the starting point? According to Tanya Kumar, Brand Design Lead at Netflix, when tested in theaters the sonic logo we’ve all come to know felt “so short and so abrupt that you really didn’t quite understand what you saw before you dove right into the film.” The basic premise was that a bigger occasion needs a bigger introduction, and after a little bit of trial and error, Hans duly delivered.

The finished piece is a 16-second orchestral journey that takes us away from the couch and up into the cinematic ether. The euphoric rise of strings and percussion eventually gives way to that instantly recognizable ‘Ta-Dum’, and we’re left in no doubt of two things; one, this is a premium Netflix production; and two, we’re no longer lounging in our front room. Listen to the difference here:


A successful sound evolution

Netflix’s decision to stay true to their original sound, even when embarking on new ventures, is an important lesson for brands of all sizes in all markets – and it’s where PHMG’s Brand-Sound™ package can really deliver. Once a business has an established track that consumers can tune into, it can then be adapted and edited to make the best use of every marketing channel, whether that’s on-hold, within videos or at events.

As the streaming giant has shown – with the help of Hans Zimmer – the key is to retain the core melodic elements that chime with listeners, and mould it for specific platforms or occasions. You may not be ready to make your silver screen debut, but by adapting your sound in the right way, you can capitalise on new opportunities and create real synergy in sound.


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