What We Can Learn From the Facebook “Rebrand”
After weeks of speculation Facebook has “re”branded, making it the most discussed rebranding perhaps ever. The company has introduced the new corporate name Meta, leaving its tarnished Facebook brand for the social network platform along with Instagram and WhatsApp. It did not attempt to change the Facebook brand but rather creating a new one for its future business efforts.
Facebook’s beautifully produced and tightly scripted announcement broadcast is gaining admiration from some and ruthlessly trashed by others. We don’t make it our practice to judge the rebranding work of other companies or agencies. We prefer to “lean in” to doing the best possible work for our own clients. But as perpetual students of rebranding we look for the learnings that each rebrand presents for others, especially in regards to the strategy they followed.
Companies rebrand for one of several reasons, that are usually proactive or reactive in nature. Whether it’s due to a merger/acquisition, new leadership or an outdated identity, you proactively rebrand to open the doors to new opportunities and create an identity that is more relevant to your future business strategies. You can also use rebranding as a reactive strategic tool to attempt to move beyond negative perceptions and even legal threats that continue to erode customer support. Facebook may have tried to leverage both of these strategies, but in the process possibly took one step forward and two back.
Here’s our takeaways from the announcement and the larger corporate move into the metaverse:
Rebranding is about creating a forward-looking, aspirational and differentiating brand that can help capture future business opportunities. Facebook has done that successfully by creating a new corporate brand #Meta to further enable its mission of “connecting people” and virtual reality innovation. This new name provides it with the cover and elasticity to further develop its proposed VR products to serve a new “universe”. In fact, by coining the term “metaverse” it has put itself in the ownership position of this future world with the corporate name Meta.
Facebook is trying to untether the company’s future from its Facebook brand allowing Meta to “boldly go where no one has gone before.” Facebook used the shrewd strategic communications move to ignite excitement for what’s possible in the future of social connectivity, changing the dialogue away from its current challenges. Call it diversion or distraction, it reframed the discussion, spurring enthusiasm for what can be, and firmly positioning the company as focused on the future and not looking back. The Untrusted Trustmark
But the company kept the tarnished #Facebook brand for the social network, somewhat demoting it to just another app in its portfolio. A brand is a trust mark, meant to give customers confidence in choosing your product over others. With all the hoopla, Facebook has still not yet adequately addressed what it will proactively do to address the lack of policies, practices and leadership commitment that many believe create havoc in our modern, social media driven world. The company is still left with lots of explaining on how it will regain our trust in Facebook and it’s leadership’s decision-making -- and, how it can be trusted to act more responsibly in the #MetaUniverse.
The word rebrand is created from ‘brand” and the prefix ‘re”, which means to “create anew”. Facebook has launched a dynamic new corporate vision and brand where it can eagerly reframe the excitement of its new products and technology innovation. Early adopters and enthusiasts will quickly follow its lead. Rebranding is also about opportunity and it looks like Facebook might have left some opportunity on the table, glazing over the chance to lay out the trust-building changes it will deliver based upon the continuing outrage. Facing forward doesn’t mean you can leave a wake in your path or past. The company launches Meta with baggage that may be hard to shake.