What is behind a rebrand: Facebook’s Meta as an example

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What is behind a rebrand: Facebook’s Meta as an example
November 30, 2021
Author: Yassmine Alieh
Source: Rasd

The first order of business is acknowledging that a brand is far more than the company’s name and logo. Instead, the brand is a promise delivered, an idea, or the way the company or its products are perceived in the minds and hearts of people.

Brand names and logos are meant to encapsulate that. However, how a company wants to be recognized through its branding and logo is secondary to the sense of familiarity when eyes are being laid on it.

A rebranding exercise requires change management that is aligned with organizational values and a common understanding of what the future holds for it to truly be conducive to organizational success and continuity.

When to do it?

The rebranding exercise can be a difficult one with several obstacles. It is important to have internal alignment on the brand changes, and the most efficient way to achieve this is by involving key personnel and their departments in the process. The consensus is that a company’s brand and logo need a refresh every ten years or so to stay hip and relatable, mainly if end consumers use the company’s products.

There are certain situations when a total rebrand is warranted. The first is when an organization has accomplished or arrived at a critical milestone (a nationwide or international expansion). In such a situation, the rebrand will be seen as a culmination of that success.

Ideally, the rebrand would also cater to and allow for a greater affinity across different consumer cultures. For example, Raider changed to Twix and Smiths to Lay’s.

The second situation where a total rebrand could be necessary is when something goes wrong (a product fail, or any other situation which results in a bad reputation). In such cases, a company must change its brand and put some thought into the vision and mission and the value proposition it will underscore to its consumers.

Finally, there are other situations where total rebranding is warranted. For example, sometimes companies merge or grow bigger by acquiring new entities, and they rebrand to distinguish themselves from subsidiaries. This brings us to the particular case of Facebook.

From FACEBOOK to Meta

Let’s face it: Facebook has been under fire for the past few years, and for a good reason. A few years ago, the parent company rebranded itself to FACEBOOK to distinguish itself from its social media platform Facebook.

Confused? Its CEO and Chairman Mark Zuckerberg recently revealed that the parent company’s name has changed, again, into Meta, updating its logo to an infinity loop that resembles the letter M. The choice and timing of the change is quite questionable.

According to Zuckerberg, the change represents the company’s move further away from Facebook and closer to a metaverse or a digital world where people can experience an alternative life. We all know that Facebook has been suffering dwindling sales and is being increasingly shunned by youngsters.

The firm recently experienced negative coverage and some consumer backlash when one of its employees revealed documents that the company is aware of the societal damage its products are causing. The name and logo change promise that Zuckerberg himself said might not be achievable before nearly ten years.

With that being said, the rebrand reflects how serious the firm is about accomplishing those achievements. It also draws a clear line between the products of the company and the company itself. Only time will tell how successful this rebrand will be.

When it went wrong

Trillion-dollar companies spent millions of dollars on rebranding. But they often fail to capture the true essence of the change using the visual identity. Here are a few examples of when rebranding exercises went wrong.

Mastercard

One of the biggest names in the financial realm, Mastercard, decided that it was time to rebrand and change its logo as part of the process. Unfortunately, the iconic and simple two circles turned into a confusing mess of three interlocking circles. The entire overhaul cost a whopping US$ 10 Million. Eventually, design consultant Pentagram cleaned up the clutter.

Master Card Logo's

Gap

An all-time favorite clothing store for the family, Gap had it wrong too. The failure of their rebranding exercise has become a textbook example of what not to do. When the company made the change, customers immediately shared that they didn’t like it. As a result, gap changed its logo back only six days after the logo was redesigned.

Kraft

Kraft had one of the simplest in-your-face logos. Unfortunately, many saw the company’s redesign as a disaster. The new logo was regarded as generic, and some commentators even saw it as bland. Consumers viewed it as distant, unfamiliar, and lacking identity. Six months later, Kraft changed their logo back, but the damage had already been done.

A lesson for all of us

Rebranding is a tricky and costly exercise that needs to be well thought out; otherwise, it could lead to irreparable damage. The exercise demands strong leadership, a clear vision for the future rooted in the accomplishments of the past, and is bound by realizable ambitions.

Company leaders are advised to think deeply about their visual identity and are counseled to keep it simple yet powerful. Strive for minimalism and at the end of the day, make sure that was you reflect visually aligns with and augments what your company stands for.