Rebranding Facebook as Meta has earned the company plenty of scorn, yet rebrands are almost always met with negativity. Criticism is easy and people generally hate change. Yet rebranding the company behind Facebook makes strategic sense.
Some have suggested the name change is a great strategy for distracting attention from negative stories and lawsuits. The distraction strategy, however, never works. In fact, it always draws MORE attention to the problems, with name change stories always highlighting the negatives the company is trying to run from.
Some have suggested the name change is part of a strategy for rejuvenating the brand to appeal to a younger generation. Unfortunately, a name can’t fix a brand any more than fresh paint can fix a crumbling building. Younger users have been fleeing Facebook for a decade. The company’s purchase of Instagram tried to stem the tide. Spend any time with people in high school and college, however, and you will see TikTok and Snapchat are the social media choices today. A name change will not fix that trend.
The real strategy win in rebranding Facebook comes when talking about brand architecture. By divorcing the company name from one of its products, the company has greater strategic freedom. Facebook is tied to social media at a time when the company is investing in virtual, augmented, and mixed reality technologies. The company has announced a strategy of creating an immersive “embodied internet” experience. Doing that will require strategic brand considerations like making acquisitions—and also selling off—pieces of its business.
Having a company name that is free from a single product and that can be infused with new meaning is the strategy win in rebranding Facebook here that matters.