For weeks now, Facebook has been flirting with rename your brand until you have succeeded. A change of look for the largest social network in the world motivated by many factors. It seems incredible that after 17 years, that F in white on a blue background will disappear from our digital culture. Goal. This is how we should call the company from now on. If we can, of course. Is it possible to stop calling such a deep-rooted and widespread brand in such a way?
We have seen similar brand name cases in the past. Netflix, Yahoo, Google, Nike, Subway, Playboy, Tinder, Amazon … And no one remembers their initial names anymore. But in this case, Facebook is going to have it more complicated.
First of all, and to understand the name change of Mark Zuckerberg’s company, we must pay special attention to the accumulation of events that Facebook has experienced in recent years. In just the last few months, the tech company has faced criticism of hate speech, misinformation, electoral interference and even genocide. All materialized in turn with the statements of Frances Haugen, the former Facebook product manager turned whistleblower, testifying before Congress.
Recent reports revealed since Instagram is toxic to teenage girls, and the company knew it, that Facebook actually infuriates people and that the company has not invested in resources in countries outside the Western world. We have told about it on Magnet. And of course, after this, they want (and need) a fresh start.
And that’s where Meta appears.
Why Meta? Zuckerberg plans refocus his Silicon Valley company on what he sees as the next digital frontier, which is the unification of disparate digital worlds into something called a metaverse. Yes. They are committed to building a virtual universe that will be the next great social platform that various tech companies will build over the next 10 years or more.
So far so good. The obstacle now with Facebook is that it is one of the most recognized brands on the planet and, in the past, Zuckerberg has wanted to brand everything with the Facebook name. When he bought WhatsApp and Instagram, he insisted that they be called “Instagram for FB” and “WhatsApp for FB”. With that you can get an idea. Saying “Facebook” is like saying “home,” “dog,” or “trip.” Something of the most normal thing in our lives.
A corporate change, mission impossible?
The corporate branding they are rare but have precedents and serve many reasons. They have generally been used to signal the structural reorganization of a company or to distance it from a toxic reputation. Some of the main reasons are:
- There is some brand confusion. If your company receives calls from a company with a similar name or people mistake it for another business that does something completely different. Also if users misspell or mispronounce the name constantly. This is not the case with Facebook.
- It has changed industries, products, or strategies. That is, you have added a new product or service line. Facebook has.
- It is an inherited name that no longer works. Many companies choose to name their organization after its founder. It is especially common in firms in the financial and legal sector or architects and creatives. However, it raises problems with the departure of the founders or partners, or with their death. This is not the case with Facebook.
- It’s too tied to one location. This is not the case with Facebook.
- It is too generic or mediocre. It might not help you stand out from the competition. If the name is too boring, bland, or generic, you will have a hard time attracting attention. It could be the case with Facebook.
- The brand is related to different problems and has a bad image. It has promoted toxic behavior, harassment, abuse. This is the case of Facebook.
We have seen similar brand name cases in the past. In 2015, Google was restructured under a new parent company, Alphabet, breaking up into separate companies to better differentiate its internet search business from the bets it was making in other areas. And is that even before being called Google, it was called BackRub. In 2011, Netflix announced plans to split its video business into two parts, changing the name to Qwikster.
Some users have compared Zuckerberg’s company more, however, to other less desirable cases such as Philip Morris, the tobacco giant, who changed its name to Altria Group in 2001 after years of reputational damage from health care costs and the effects of cigarettes on the American public. But the reality is that, according to some studies and research, most of the population has not stopped calling the tobacco brand the same way. Philip Morris wanted people to think that he had changed so that they would accept the new identity and forget about the tobacco connection. But to the public Altria is the same tobacco corporation that Philip Morris was.
It is another study emphasizes that most people can’t remember brand logos they see their names every day. A kind of “neglected amnesia” that also affects corporate changes. If it is difficult for us to remember one, what would happen if companies began to rename their brands every so often?
In 1893, pharmacist Caleb Davis Bradham invented a delicious mixture of sugar, water, caramel, lemon oil, nutmeg, kola nuts, and other ingredients. The creation, which he called Brad’s Drink, was an overnight sensation and five years later he renamed it Pepsi-Cola because he believed it helped with indigestion, also known as dyspepsia.
And Blue Ribbon? No one remembers that name when talking about their Nike. O de Stag Party to refer to the men’s magazine founded in 1953 by Hugh Hefner. Virtually all famous brands have undergone a name change in their history. Subway was called Pete’s Submarine. Tinder was Matchbox until recently and even Amazon it began by calling itself Relentless.
The founders thought the word seemed a bit sinister, so other ideas were raised, including Awake, Bookmail, Browse, and Cadabra. The last name, which referred to “Abracadabra”, was rejected when Bezos’s attorney mistook it for “Corpse.” “Amazon” was the winner because the Amazon is the largest river in the world by volume and because it began with an “A”, something valuable in an era when websites were often listed alphabetically.
From Google to Alphabet, a clear example
The market now knows Google’s parent company as Alphabet. But many people are not aware of how the corporation came to this change. Also keep in mind that apart from Google’s main search business, there are several companies that make up Alphabet. They span a wide range of industries, including robotics, life sciences, healthcare, and anti-aging.
In a blog post announcing the move, former CEO Larry Page said the new entity would help the company have a long-term vision and improve the “transparency and oversight” of their actions. The new entity, he wrote, was an “alpha bet.” Not much changed for investors in the reorganization. According to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing, every Google share was traded for an Alphabet share.
Through reorganization as a conglomerate, the move also reduces the glare of antitrust scrutiny on Alphabet. This is because each company within the Alphabet umbrella manufactures products for a different industry. Grouping them all under the search engine umbrella would have attracted more attention from regulators due to the unique nature of Google’s business. What is happening to Facebook.
Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have always had a healthy disregard for the impossible. They infused this thought process into the DNA of their company, making Google a source of innovation within Silicon Valley. where innovation is a synonym rather than a buzzword. But many of Alphabet’s attempts at innovation did, in fact, fail. The company’s attempts to reinvent itself as a hardware and Internet of Things (IoT) manufacturer have also come under constant scrutiny from the media and Wall Street.
And worst of all, no one calls the company Alphabet. For most it is still Google. It is difficult to unpick something.
It doesn’t matter what they call Facebook
Now Facebook has launched a new corporate logo designed as a slightly crooked infinity symbol, which will agglomerate Facebook and its other apps, such as Instagram and WhatsApp.
By using the name “Meta” for his new company, Zuckerberg will be much more likely to be successful in claiming full control of the term “metaverse” in the future. And luckily, the meta.com URL currently redirects to meta.org, the website of a biomedical research discovery tool that is controlled by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the philanthropic organization run by Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.
But the Facebook name change is largely cosmetic. It will begin trading under the ticker symbol MVRS as of December 1 and will also change the name of some of its virtual reality products, moving away from the original Oculus brand. Para Jennifer Grygiel, a social media researcher at Syracuse University, doesn’t matter much. “No matter what Mark Zuckerberg calls him, he will remain Zuckerberg Inc. until he gives up some power.”
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Facebook will always be Facebook: why names like Meta have it so difficult to succeed