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Storyboard | Facebook’s brand Meta-morphosis is not a quick fix

Facebook / Meta is focusing on its future growth plans rather than getting its house in order, say experts who think the change will not impact the company’s individual brands.

October 29, 2021 / 02:54 PM IST
June 2020 photo taken outside Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California. (Image: Unsplash)

June 2020 photo taken outside Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California. (Image: Unsplash)

On October 28, Mark Zuckerberg announced the rebranding of Facebook Inc. as Meta, to include both the company's "social experiences and future technology" focus.

The new identity is meant to reflect the company’s increasing focus on building a ‘metaverse’ and other next-gen tech. The metaverse is a digital world where people can move between different devices and communicate in a virtual environment.

Read more: Facebook unveils Horizon plans; interoperability key

Facebook Inc’s (now Meta's) CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been trying to make ‘metaverse’ the next buzzword in the world of technology and communication. The company has already earmarked billions of dollars to develop the metaverse, which will also include its virtual reality and augmented reality hardware offerings such as the Oculus VR headsets, AR glasses and wristband technologies.

So, what’s the hot take on the new brand?

Senior advertising executives, and design and digital specialists say Meta’s first task would be to demystify the technology to its user base without changing anything about its individual brands.

Ashwini Deshpande, co-founder and director, Elephant Design, a Pune-based strategic design and innovation consultancy, says, “It makes absolute sense for Facebook to become a house of brands.” She says changing the parent brand name was a “logical step that mitigates risks” of individual apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and others.

Read more: Meta narrative: Facebook by any other name

The company name Meta wouldn’t change the lives of the users on these apps, she adds. However, “it would be an attractive space for innovators as well as investors,” says Deshpande.

The Meta view

Rayomand J. Patell, chief creative officer of Idealake, says ‘Meta’ fits in well with the company’s new direction.

“One of the founding principles of the net was to connect people and minds. From the earliest days of text-based bulletin boards to Star Wars, where we’ve seen holograms of people talking to each other one way or the other… while that’s science fiction, using technology to connect people is what Meta’s stated ambition is,” Patell explains.

Meta in the long run will represent, “an aggregation of services and tech that builds a universe”, says Patell.

Not a quick fix

Across the world, the social media giant has been facing intense criticism and scrutiny from regulators, lawmakers and the public for its practices and impact on people, communities and countries. Will the company’s brand refresh help fix some of the cracks in its brand?

Kunel Gaur, founder and creative director of independent creative shop Animal, says, “In the midst of scrutiny and a call for decentralisation of the opaque conglomerate, they decide to do the exact opposite. Solidify and cement all their existing entities ‘inwards’ and call it Meta.”

Gaur also thinks the identity itself is dated, and “a sad reminder of the most used symbol in branding history, starting from the '90s, just with better graphics and visualisation.”

Breaking connections   

Omkar Joshi, founder and chief creative officer of the digital-first consulting shop, hybrid>, says that for the company, “future growth plans” is more important than “getting their house in order”.

Joshi adds that for the “long term, this will prove to be a smart move because while the name Facebook might be targeted and hated, Meta is no longer connected to that legacy.”

While the jokes and memes have started doing the rounds, Gaur says Facebook will succeed “because of hard and sheer capital, but not in creating a culture around the future of the Internet and all the promise it brings to us.”

Priyanka Nair is Assistant Editor of Storyboard. Storyboard is Network18's flagship platform focussed on the advertising & marketing community and a leading source of news and analyses on the business of brands
first published: Oct 29, 2021 02:43 pm