Are we being too meta about the Meta rebrand?
Written by Phil Borge-Slavnich
Another day, another global tech giant rebrand. Facebook (the parent company, not the social platform) is becoming Meta; a move designed to reflect the organisation’s future, as evidenced in Mark Zuckerberg’s visual explanation of the potential of the metaverse, itself preceded by an announcement of significant ongoing investment into the development of this new virtual world.
While Zuckerberg’s declaration made things crystal clear, to me at least – specifically that its apps and other services would all retain their own names and identities (you’ll still share on Facebook, scroll on Instagram and group chat on WhatsApp) – this particular detail seems to have been totally missed, especially in the media.
Even the usually reliable BBC’s write up seemed to struggle, with James Clayton suggesting it’ll be hard to convince people to stop calling it Facebook. But that’s not what Zucks is trying to achieve with this rebrand, is it? Facebook is still Facebook, and if you’re one of its almost 3 billion users, you’ll go to your Facebook profile to share family updates, watch viral videos and like cat photos. Its parent company will be Meta, a fact that will matter more if you’re investing on the stock market for example. Clayton falls into the same trap with Google and Alphabet, as I imagine most people do.
So, if our media (and anyone else) can’t navigate what the principles of a brand are all about, and are ready to rush in to lambast the ‘millions spent on a new logo’ or suggest the announcement of Meta is simply a ‘diversionary tactic to pull focus away from the whistle-blower scandal’, what’s the point?
A good rebrand runs far deeper than a fresh lick of paint
Within our industry we understand the power of the brand. That it’s more than a name, logo and colour pallet. Done well, it permeates every part of a business, inspires its employees, and encourages engagement, loyalty and action from its customers and other external audiences. No comms strategy can exist without it. And that value is created by its development, which can become almost invaluable in its execution.
But we also know it doesn’t have to mean all things to everyone. A brand matters to the audiences it is intended for; one of the many reasons why an organisation’s brand might not be one, singular thing, but instead a family of complementary elements that work in unison while delivering very different functions and experiences, depending on who they are created for.
Whether we’ll all say Meta or not is irrelevant. Although it’ll be a fascinating watch to see how this change rolls out, and whether Meta does use its new brand structure to better protect its future developments from the reputational damage being inflicted on one of its properties such as Facebook or Instagram.
What matters is what the brand is there to do. There’s a science to this – a brand so well defined, designed and implemented that it successfully directs an organisation’s behaviour, which in turn inspires the desired reaction from its audiences.
And if it can do all this in the background, while the name, logo and colour pallet get all the attention? That’s art.