I love a good logo, I spend hours going through guidelines and designs. I think everything a logo can stand for and the messages it can put across are absolutely amazing. There are, however, sometimes when you shouldn’t introduce a new logo, or even rework an old one.
I mean, we all remember what happened when GAP gave it a go right? Some things should never be messed with. This kind of messy introduction brings me to what I wanted to talk about: Facebook.
Facebook has an interesting history, from breaking user privacy to potentially leading to the election of Donald Trump and the breakaway of the United Kingdom from the European Union. This has led to some trust issues in the Facebook platform, which isn’t a good look if you want to become one of the most valuable companies in the world.
This distrust doesn’t just stay within the one branded platform though, because Facebook’s tentacles are spreading further and wider with the purchase of Oculus, WhatsApp and Instagram in recent years with many more likely to come in the future. They needed to think about a way to minimise brand damage.
First they tried some really weird adverts, after the Cambridge Analytica scandal they ran adverts apologising and they wanted to make sure users could trust them again. They made a big deal of their privacy changes, with Mark Zuckerberg writing a blog post about the future of it on the platform.
Their final step was to introduce the Facebook rebrand, as a parent company that could separate itself from the bad past of the social media platform. Much like Google’s parent company Alphabet, it could help manage everything from an arm’s length and distance itself and its other brands. Something that showed its users that each app has its own mind and they called this parent company…. Facebook.
Billed as a way to separate social media platform and parent company into two entities. One riddled with the bad history and one to manage the subsidiaries.
The Facebook rebrand is an interesting concept and I definitely like the style of it. A single typeface, with a gradient to match its products which makes it a generic logo for a parent company like the MARS group. It does a good job at what it needs to be.
It is however so bizarre that after all of these years they decided that the name of the parent company would be the same name as the most popular product which has a sketchy past. Which doesn’t accomplish separating their sub-brands and what they already are perceived as.
There’s also the problem of having two logos for exactly the same thing. Social Media currently has an incredibly terrible habit of keeping their logos really inconsistent because everyone uses them. A look at Twitter’s brand guidelines just shows you how hard it is with logo varieties popping up all over the shop, including weird Larry the Phoenix remixes and their first bubbly logo.
I can already forsee a future problem, which I thought the people of Facebook would have seen coming. Bringing in a new logo with exactly the same name as its current logo means that this will be used instead of the Facebook “f” and their social media platform logo, completely rendering their decision to separate the two with a new logo completely redundant.
It’s an interesting conundrum for Facebook to have. They’ve got one of the most popular social media platforms in the world, with that will come with a lot of brand distrust. It’s not a unique thing, look at all of the urban myths around Coca Cola. When you’ve got a brand used by so many people then it’s not going to be plain sailing. Managing a smaller brand makes it so much easier to maintain positive perceptions.
Facebook should have known this and learnt from other companies and followed the lead of people like Unilever. Creating a parent company that echoes one of your most used brands is not the way to go, because you will alienate users who do not like your main brand. Unilever is the best example in this scenario. Looking at its ice-cream brands: If Walls ever goes into disrepute and people don’t want to fund that business for whatever reason, they swap to a company that’s the polar opposite – like Ben and Jerry’s, which is also owned by the same parent company.
Creating smaller brands that are completely unrelated to the parent, right down to ETHOS, tone of voice, and teams gives the perception the brand isn’t at all involved with the parent in any shape but the parent still reaps the benefits (profits).
Naming the Facebook rebrand after one of its sub-brands so openly is a mistake. It makes every brand you own seem like they run off the same ETHOS. This is completely the opposite of what they wanted to do. Coca Cola and Mars Group do this slightly different because all of their sub-brands are so loosely connected to the parent brand they can get away with it. However, as soon as someone realises the connection, the trust almost immediately evaporates.
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