Rebranding Facebook: Everyone has an Opinion

November 10th, 2021

Image Credit: Facebook.com

Rebranding a giant like Facebook is an impossible task – a no-win situation that will be examined by everyone. So that’s just what we did. Three Bozellers share their takes on Facebook turned Meta.

Kelsey Pritchard, Head of PR and Social Media

Honestly? I had to look up “metaverse” when Mark Zuckerberg announced the name change for Facebook’s parent company. It’s not in Merriam-Webster yet, so I turned to Wiki: “The metaverse is the hypothesized next iteration of the internet, supporting decentralized persistent online 3-D virtual environments.” Based on that definition, Facebook – or Meta – is staking their claim on ground that doesn’t fully exist yet and declaring their vitality to the virtual way forward.

Is the move brilliant? Audacious? Are they ten steps ahead of the rest of us?

Maybe. But the word that first came to my mind was: creepy. It all sounds too much like living in “The Circle,” “Ready Player One,” or another sci-fi novel with Mark Zuckerberg as a main character. The creepiness is only compounded by the timing. Announcing the rebrand during the height of news on anticompetitive practices, stifling of free speech, disinformation and mental health implications brings its own set of negative connotations. Now, I get it. When you’re a billion-dollar social media empire, there isn’t a day that goes by without a negative headline. But this new logo doesn’t undo how people are feeling.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks so. According, to a Morning Consult poll, only 25% of Americans have a favorable view of the name change and two-thirds have no interest in entering the metaverse. A name centered on the good of social media might have earned higher marks. We could all use a reminder that Facebook and Instagram are good when we use them the right way: to stay connected with people, share about our lives, learn and find inspiration.

But hey, I didn’t spend my sophomore year of college developing a world-changing social connection app. So feel free to take my opinion with a metaverse-sized grain of salt.

Dessi Price, Senior Art Director

From a purely visual standpoint, the new logo for Facebook’s parent company, Meta, feels quite stale, uninspiring, and downright boring simply because we’ve seen it before, and we’ve expected much more from the company that claims to bring us the future of interpersonal communication in the metaverse. And it seems I’m not the only one who felt this way.

According to Bill Gardner, LogoLounge founder who tracks logo trends, this distorted infinity symbol, a Mobius strip that loops on itself, emerged as a trend back in 2008 and has been used by multiple tech companies since (Source). According to LogoLounge’s database and Gardner’s article for QZ, “there are already nearly 1,200 logos that use the symbol.” (One particular German company felt the new Meta logo was a little close to home.) In addition, the font choice and type treatment, while paying homage to the origins of the Facebook App, look plain and generic with no memorable and unique type treatment characteristics.

In the Meta design team’s defense, the new logo is supposed to be experienced in 3-D, while moving all around the infinite loop that’s morphing and changing shape and color to convey the idea of innovation and the future of technology and communication in the metaverse (see here). But that is not where I am interacting with it today.  

It also didn’t help that the rebrand felt prescriptive, rushed and not very well planned – like a cosmetic surgery job on a body that is heavily hemorrhaging internally. From data and privacy issues to invoking social unrest and spreading misinformation both during the election and COVID-19, as well as reports of having negative impacts on the mental health of teens and young adults, Facebook is definitely in need of some deeper organizational transformations. Now that the façade has been changed; hopefully, they will spend more time on fixing the interior.

Kerrey Lubbe, Senior Copywriter

Can we just take a second to talk about the $86 billion elephant in the room? As my colleagues already mentioned, there are plenty of examples how Facebook’s moral compass seems to be perpetually busted. In fact, it wasn’t long before Zuckerberg’s metaverse announcement that Frances Haugen, a former product manager on Facebook’s civic integrity team, revealed internal evidence that Facebook knew its products could negatively impact the mental health of teens; and yet they did absolutely nothing about it. And now, just a month later, they announce their big rebrand/departure from the Facebook name? Coincidence? No way. Not to mention the fact that this meta-vision of theirs appeals to a much younger demographic than Facebook. I can’t help but liken them to Steve Buscemi’s P.I. character in 30 Rock when he goes undercover at a high school: “How do you do, fellow kids?” And why does this image come to mind?

Because the trust is gone.

Now don’t get me wrong. With everything Facebook has done (and hasn’t done), it still hasn’t stopped me from using the platform. Call me a hypocrite if you want; I’m forever obsessed. But that doesn’t change the fact that I believe their way of doing business tends to be pretty unethical. And I get it; Facebook is a whale in a corporate sea. The likelihood of their future Meta endeavors being successful are awfully high. But they’re going to have to navigate this rollout wisely if you ask me. For quite a while, Meta will be associated with Facebook (particularly because of the press they picked up with the announcement). And, unfortunately for them, Facebook will be associated with a lack of trust. Which, regardless of their size, poses a problem.

The solution? For every company or product that Meta produces, they’re going to need solid messaging. They’ll need to build trust from the beginning and keep that momentum going. Because, without trust, companies can and will fail – even beasts like Facebook. Particularly when it comes to the younger generation that they have their big-bad-wolf eyes on. Those kids don’t mess around. They expect transparency, and they’re not afraid to call out businesses that fail to deliver.

So my hope with this rebrand is that Facebook uses this as an opportunity to be better. A rebrand can be just the reboot a company needs to reshape its values and start over fresh.

And I sure do hope their clientele is up for the challenge of making sure that happens.