The debut season of the “Squid Game” TV series stood out not only through its record-breaking viewership, but also through its strong visual branding. At the peak of the show’s popularity, its visual symbols were used even by such corporate giants as Heineken, Domino’s, and Pepsi.
Now Netflix is hard at work filming Season 2 of the iconic series. Recently fans could enjoy a teaser that gave them the first sneak peek of what’s to come. While the follow-up season is still in development, let’s break down what makes the “Squid Game” branding so catchy and how you can apply the best techniques to create a stellar visual image for your company.
Background & Meaning
Made in South Korea, “Squid Game” made its debut in September of 2021. Just one month after the release, the TV series ranked the most-watched show on Netflix. Millions of people were holding their breath watching 456 contestants compete for a 40-million-dollar prize.
The very name of the TV show, “Squid Game”, is a reference to a popular children’s game that Hwang Dong-hyuk, the creator and director of the survival drama, used to play when he was little. The game was played on a field that kids drew on the ground with a stick. It’s not hard to guess that the playfield resembled…right, a giant squid! The field was made of a variety of geometric figures, such as squares, circles, triangles, and so on. These geometric shapes eventually defined the visual identity of the TV show.
The TV show has a geometry-inspired logo with a white-and-pink text against a black background. In the Korean version of the emblem, the letters are arranged at different levels, which is a hint at the rigid hierarchy that permeates the game. (We’ll be diving into this topic below.)
While the English-language logo features a linear text, it still remains loyal to the original concept. The name of the show is written with geometric letters and takes up two lines.
There are several things that make the show’s simple asymmetric font stick in mind.
- Geometry, e.g. a circle in letter Q, triangle in letter A, and bright pink square in letter E.
- Elongated lines in some letters.
- Balance between sharp and round elements.
Useful tip. You don’t necessarily have to use a sophisticated typeface that impresses viewers with its intricate design. Enhanced with color highlights or asymmetry, even a simple-looking font can make your brand stand out.
To discover the secrets of choosing the best typography for your logo, check out our amazing article that explores precisely this topic: Best Font Combinations For Your Business.
“Squid Game” relies on two main colors, pink and green. Designers working on the TV show opted for this eye-grabbing combination for a reason. The thing is that pink and green are complementary hues that can be found on the opposite sides of the color wheel. The highly contrasting palette emphasizes stark differences between the characters, reflecting the fundamental metaphor of the narrative.
Pink is the dominant color in the TV drama. This shade can be found literally everywhere. The guards are wearing pink jumpsuits, some logo letters are painted pink, and so on. This color — just like the people wearing it — determines the rules. On one hand, a cold shade of pink is associated with romanticism and infantility. One the other hand, this hue is also capable of evoking feelings of tension and anxiety.
Green is the color worn by the workers. It stands for tranquility, reliability, vitality, and trust.
The pink-green combination is a color metaphor that can be interpreted as “system vs. human” or “death vs. life”. When the narrative talks about money, this color duet is joined by a new shade, yellow.
Useful tip. Looking to draw customer attention and make a convincing statement through your branding? One sure way to achieve that is by using shades located on the opposite sides of the color wheel. With the ZenBusiness branding constructor, creating a contrasting color combination is a walk in the park. Enter your brand name and pick a striking color scheme that will be turning heads!
To learn more about the art and science of colors, check out this article: How to Choose Ideal Colors for Your Website.
Geometric icons are the backbone of the unique visual identity that “Squid Game” is known for. Reminding the audience about the main idea behind the show, the telltale icons can be seen everywhere, from the masks worn by the guards, to the multiple accessories, to the show logo.
The three icons — square, triangle, and circle — reflect the hierarchical structure of the environment that the contestants find themselves in.
- Square represents the guards, the highest-rank staff on the show. People wearing masks with square shapes oversee other players. This choice of geometry is hardly surprising seeing that a square stands for leadership, rational thinking, power, and persistence. Square logos are often used by brands striving to bring forward their expertise (Microsoft) or premium quality products (Givenchy).
- Triangle can be seen on the masks of armed soldiers whose function is to enforce the rules of the game and follow the orders of the guards. A triangle symbolizes consistency, steadiness, pragmatism, and self-assurance. All of these qualities make up a pretty accurate portrait of the henchmen on the show. Triangles are a frequent choice among brands that value strength, energy, and goal achievement. e.g. Adidas and Delta Airlines.
- Circle is a symbol of the lowest-ranking workers. A circle is traditionally associated with versatility, constancy, and compliance. In the TV show, a circle is the “weakest” geometric figure that obeys the dominating square and the consistent triangle. A circle is often featured in the logos of the brands that stand for unity, friendliness, and peace, e.g. Olympic Games, NASA, etc.
Useful tip. Simple geometry is an effective branding tool. In addition to being minimalist and easy-to-remember, standard geometric shapes evoke predictable associations among customers. For your logo, use a geometric figure that characterizes your brand’s qualities, values or goals.
Curious to learn more about geometry and its meaning? Take a look at our article Square, Triangle & Circle: What Your Logo Shape Tells Customers About Your Brand.
The branding that we saw in “Squid Game” is a great example of how a seemingly simple visual identity can leave an indelible impression by being boldly creative and consistent. Let’s sum up the three lessons that a company like yours can learn from the branding used by the iconic Korean TV show.
- Define a message that you want to communicate to your audience through your brand identity. What is your company about? What makes it stand out from the crowd? What qualities or values do you want to bring to the limelight? Answers to these questions will become the foundation of your brand identity.
- Choose the geometry, color palettes and typography that are best at conveying the idea behind your business. Rely on simplicity and minimalism as your guiding lights. If you’re looking to highlight your company’s unique characteristics, find a smart way to accentuate specific elements of your design.
- Make sure to apply your freshly-minted visual identity throughout your branding. Your business cards, signages, uniform, etc. must transcend the same message and tell a consistent story about your company.