Lisa Merriam

Facebook Brand and Email: Brand Extension Lacks Permission or Purpose

Facebook’s launch of a new email client runs smack-dab into brand problems:

1) The Facebook brand lacks consumer trust:
It seems like every week, Facebook faces charges of releasing unauthorized user data or of making sneaky changes to user settings to exploit information on users without permission. How many people will trust Facebook with their email contact lists?

2) Facebook’s brand is about wasting time, not productivity:
All Facebook, the authoritative blog about Facebook strategy, functions, uses, points out that “Facebook would be suddenly moving into the world of productivity, something which until now has been the antithesis of Facebook.” Time wasting on Facebook is such that over 3000 people like Ziploc and connect to get tips on using plastic bags!
3) Facebook has a product that doesn’t address a need:
You can already send messages to people on Facebook. You already have a choice of hundreds of perfectly good email clients. What is the need is not already being addressed? People complain of being “too connected”–having to check voicemail, text messages, Facebook, Linked-In, Twitter, email, etc. Is there a burning need to swap one of these out or add to them?

Facebook’s brand doesn’t include trust or productivity, so it lacks permission to extend to offering an email client. The lack of product purpose further un-clinches the deal.

Check out the comment thread on the Huffington Post. Get past the bashing of Jeffrey Zuckerberg, and the response is overwhelmingly negative for Facebook in the trust department.