Font psychology: What the posters for Netflix’s top shows can teach us

When the day is done and you get to finally settle down for some sacred Netflix and chill time, how do you decide what show to watch?

There is no shortage of options to choose from on Netflix. I can’t count how many times I’ve sat there staring at the rows and rows of shows with no clue where to start.

So how do we choose what show to settle on? Sure, many of us hop on the bandwagon for the latest bingeable show. But what contributes to us thinking that a show looks good?

The promotional poster might have more to do with it than you realize. Specifically…the TV show’s title font.

Hear me out.

Whether or not we realize it, design plays a big role in how we perceive the value of a product. From books to snacks to beauty products, the power is often in the packaging.

So when it comes time to design an ad, or a product label, or a logo, put some thought into the fonts you use. There’s a good chance they can influence how people perceive your marketing content and your product.

netflix font psychology infographic

How font psychology can influence how we perceive products

You may have heard about color psychology before. It’s the idea that certain colors elicit a certain emotional response from us (like yellow = happy and blue = sad).

But have you heard of font psychology?

In the intersecting worlds of marketing and design, quite a bit of thought has been put into how fonts affect our perception of products.

In fact, Netflix even announced that they now have their own custom font: Netflix Sans.

Similar to how colors have associations, fonts also have unique characteristics. As a bit of a crude example: you wouldn’t use Comic Sans on the poster for a hard-hitting drama, right?

When you’re creating your own promotional posters, flyers, packaging and site design, you should put some careful thought into the fonts you use.   

For example, simply changing the font choice on this movie poster we made for Titanic makes for an entirely different tone:

titanic movie poster

Different fonts have been designed for different purposes. For example, designers have worked hard to develop both Serif and Sans Serif fonts for maximum readability. But many designers have also created fonts that are meant to be weird and out there, for special uses only.

So when it comes to choosing fonts for your designs, which should you spring for? Something more conventional, like Arial or Cambria? Or something gaudier like Impact or Monotype Corsiva?

Different fonts have different characteristics

Your font choices may influence your audience’s imaginations, moods, and expectations when they view your content.

study conducted back in 2006 by the Software Usability Research Laboratory (SURL) at Wichita State University looked at the personality traits that people associate with different fonts. They asked participants to rate the personality of 20 fonts using 15 adjective pairs.

What they found was that while more basic fonts like Arial or Courier New were considered “stable” and “mature”, they were also considered “unimaginative” and “conformist”. Meanwhile, more “youthful” and “casual” fonts like Kirsten and Comic Sans were also considered “happy” and “cuddly”.

Here are the top three fonts for each descriptive word:

font psychology