The Stranger Things logo is more than recognizable. With two red words in a glowing, floating phrase emerging from inky darkness, the Netflix series has helped bring back an entire era—the 1980s—with this one logo.
The history of the logo dates back to 2016. The show was first created by Matt and Ross Duffer in collaboration with Imaginary Forces, a creative studio with offices in New York and Los Angeles. Imaginary Forces is no stranger to Netflix; they’ve worked on branding, logos, and other title sequences for Netflix, including the one for Spike Lee’s TV series, She’s Gotta Have It.
’80s as Inspiration
The logo was created with the ITC Benguiat font designed by New York typographer, Ed Benguiat. It was chosen, according to Michelle Dougherty at Imaginary Forces, to look like a Stephen King novel font meets a title sequence of Alien (which was designed by Richard Greenberg).
The Duffer brothers apparently fell in love with storytelling, and much of their influences came from the 1980s. Just as the logo is inspired by King novels, the show draws its influences from Steven Spielberg and John Carpenter, which can be seen and felt throughout the show.
“I came from a time when film titles were still done optically, at the beginning of my career I saw that, but my brain had to be refreshed about the process,” said Dougherty. “When we were looking at optics from that era, we were basically looking for the mistakes. You’re watching light pass through film so there’s this beauty to it, but there’s also mistakes that happen along the way.”
The logo design was courtesy of the team at Contend, who also did the motion key art, directed by Nate Sherman and Jacob Boghosian. “We started off by referencing many of Stephen King’s book covers along with movie posters from the 1980s,” said Boghosian. “Over 20 logos options were created but the logo using the ITC Benguiat font, stood out as the favorite by far. We modified the font by adjusting the contours of the typeface to give it a unique and harmonized lock up.”
Brace for Impact
This particular logo and style has become incredibly popular in visual culture, and pop culture’s clued in too. Nelson Cash, a design firm in Portland, created the Stranger Things logo generator, Make it Stranger. The site permits anyone put together a series of words to “strangify” the logo. This type generator website went viral with over 2.5 million submissions and received an onslaught of press coverage—certainly useful PR for the creative agency.
The logo even has cultural clout in the courtroom. In 2016, democratic representative David Cicilline presented a ‘Trump Things’ placard on the House Floor, suggesting the country is in its own ‘Upside Down’ parallel universe.
Not So Strange After All
To Boghosian, it comes as a surprise that the Stranger Things logo has become so relevant in today’s culture. “At the time, it was another logo I was making and didn’t think anything more to it,” he said. “But once the series was out, designers and even non-designers embraced the logo so much, that it really showed the power of design and typography and how it can impact our culture. That was the first time I realized how much impact designers can have in this world.”
He adds: “I want to be clear though that I don’t think the logo was great on its own. The logo is only as good as what it’s representing. In this case, Stranger Things is a brilliant series along with the intro title sequence and the logo represented the full experience of that content.”
According to designer Sarah Gless, who worked on the generator at Nelson Cash, what makes this logo sing is that the title sequence is what she calls ‘pure, unadulterated typographic porn.’