I got a LinkedIn message from a Washington Post journalist:”Hi Joanne, I’m writing a story about Facebook’s rebranding and would love for you to weigh in.” Hours later when I saw the message, it was after the Post’s cut-off time so my input didn’t get to be quoted in the Post’s article, so I’m sharing my thoughts in this blog post.
Facebook announced that a new, all cap FACEBOOK logo for its corporate parent company, the holding company for other social media apps such as Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, etc. The Facebook App’s blue and white logo remains unchanged, but “from FACEBOOK”, in matching colors with visual identities for Instagram and WhatsApp, will be added to these apps to remind users about FACEBOOK’s parental role in their acquired brands.
This is what I call the “umbrella brand”. The strategy for holding the umbrella is to let all the “sub brands” or “kids” be gathered under the overarching parent brand’s identity, in this case, the FACEBOOK company. What prompts FACEBOOK to have this facelift in three colors?
Is this move related to the antitrust settlement with FTC, to show that FACEBOOK is transparent (rather than deceptive, as alleged by the Federal Government) about its acquisitions and operations of Instagram, WhatsApp and other acquired brands? Will stamping “from FACEBOOK” on all its acquired apps make it harder for the government to break up FACEBOOK? Is it the initial step for FACEBOOK to create interconnectedness among all their apps for their users? If yes, this rebranding is more structural and strategic for the corporate organizational and management purposes, rather than a mere cosmetic change of font, color and style for a logo.
From the point of view of user-experience, Instagram and WhatsApp have been spared of Facebook’s tarnished reputation and negative brand association due to Facebook’s privacy violations and other controversies, until now: Having parent company’s new FACEBOOK logo noticeably displayed with Instagram and WhatsApp will “taint” what was previously untarnished brand equity of Instagram and WhatsApp.
Is it a facelift for a (terminally) ill patient, or a sincere step toward substantive rebranding of Facebook’s brand essence? Rebranding a corporate logo will not enhance a brand’s reputation and stature or inspire trust without completely rebranding FACEBOOK’s troublesome brand essence, core values and DNA to show what FACEBOOK stands for. FACEBOOK needs organ transplant, open heart surgery, blood transfusion. Mere plastic surgery to make its appearance look different is insufficient.
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© Joanne Tan, 2019.