Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook meta, strives to concentrate most on the larger picture. As a result, the recent decision to rebrand the different products of his company under a new umbrella moniker, Meta, was understandable.
He attributed his decision to his faith in the potential of the “metaverse.” But, a closer look indicates that many reasons, including several years’ worth of serious issues, drove the organization formerly known as Facebook and its CEO.
What has been happening with Facebook is an excellent example of how difficult and complicated rebranding can be, particularly on intellectual property (IP).
In the wake of a dispute, rebranding
On October 28, 2021, Facebook declared a redesign of its corporate image. While the parent business now refers to as Meta, the corporation’s primary social network still bears its old name, as do well-known services like Instagram and WhatsApp. A pale blue rendition of the mathematical sign for infinity that has been false to resemble an “m” has replaced the once-iconic white-on-blue, lowercase-f logo.
Even though the statement came out of nowhere, I can hardly describe it as random now. For Facebook / Meta, 2021 has been a year of a major scandal. Although the corporation and Zuckerberg personally are not new to criticism from the public, this time has been much more intense:
Facebook meta was nearly new as a communication tool by rioters who attacked the US Capitol building due to technical problems and inconsistent moderation by senior leadership.
President Joe Biden severely condemned the social network for its inability to stop disseminating misleading information about COVID-19 and the vaccines that fight it, claiming that such platforms were “killing people.”
Former Facebook data scientist Frances Haugen testified before the US Congress and revealed how the social media platform’s algorithm boosted hate speech and misinformation by prioritizing engagement.
Before Haugen’s most recent testimony revealed evidence that Instagram seriously affected adolescent girls’ mental health, it kept the company’s research under wraps.
The information about Facebook meta that surfaced last year is a small sampling. So many media sites have written multi-part article series of the scandals due to the volume of it.
An established, albeit dubious, precedent.
Zuckerberg has maintained his claims of being laser-focused on the metaverse in all his public comments surrounding Meta branding. The metaverse is the company’s name for a largely hypothetical collection of interconnected digital universes that users explore with virtual avatars. He asserted that the announcement’s timing was coincidental in an interview with The Verge on October 28 and that, in a perfect world, he would never change his branding during a negative news cycle.
Of course, we cannot pass any final judgement on Zuckerberg’s reasons for this branding. But it’s undeniable that the now-named Facebook Meta firm has spent the whole year embroiled in scandal. It’s also true that some businesses have tried significant rebranding efforts or, at the very least, renamings in the wake of scandals or legal challenges. Several notable instances:
In recent years, Uber has undergone some brand changes that, like Facebook’s, have drawn some criticism.
After receiving criticism for significant price increases in 2015, Valeant Pharmaceuticals changed its name to Bausch Health in 2018.
Midway through the 2010s, after acquiring Intel, cybersecurity software provider McAfee briefly changed its name to Intel Security to distance itself from its eccentric (and since deceased) founder.
Philip Morris, a manufacturer of cigarettes, changed its name to Altria in 2003 to emphasize a broader range of goods.
In 2003, WorldCom, a telecommunications company that was the target of the worst accounting fraud in American history, changed its name to MCI.
Were these initiatives a success?
The response is typically not a straightforward yes or no:
Uber: Its reputation has taken a hit, but it is still thriving and had a high-value initial public offering (IPO) in 2019; Lyft is its sole significant rival.
Bausch: Since 2019, the business formerly known as Valeant has been the subject of lawsuits and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigations. The company had to pay 1.21 billion USD to shareholders for deceiving them. Still, it brings in about 8.6 billion USD annually.
McAfee: By 2019, the software firm had entirely reverted to its former identity and logo while being majority-owned by the organization that sought to distance itself from John McAfee.
Altria: Altria’s branding only focuses a little on the consumer. The tobacco division of the business is still known as Philip Morris USA, and its portfolio of brands, including Marlboro and Parliament, stand out to customers. Even the company’s business, Kraft Foods, failed, raising whether the effort to separate itself from the stigma associated with tobacco use was worthwhile.
WorldCom: This rebranding was a total disaster, which is appropriate given the shocking levels of corruption involving WorldCom’s leaders. Even after completing all its responsibilities during its bankruptcy, the scandalous corporation fired tens of thousands of employees. In 2006, Verizon owned it.
It is too early to predict whether Zuckerberg’s Meta relaunch will be successful. The business may be “too large to fail” shortly, if nothing else. But if the dominant social network faces more regulatory scrutiny, this can hurt its metaverse initiatives. Regulators will impose stringent regulations on virtual e-commerce. Thus, it is still workable that the rebrand will be either net neutral or negative in the long run.
Strategic factors for rebranding
Of course, the majority of rebranding campaigns avoid using extreme shame. Many of them need to be like to an urgent business rule. But speculating how the Facebook Meta branding might develop is challenging due to the complex elements involved. But, because of the particular conditions, it is only sometimes a strategy that should imitate.
Reconnecting an organization’s branding components, such as names, logos, or other trademarks, with its fundamental mission can motivate successful rebranding initiatives. A rebrand can help expand into new global jurisdictions and target a more extensive client base with novel goods or services. The goal is to refrain from rebranding hastily or without reasonable commercial justification.
We at IP Docketers appreciate and comprehend trademarks’ strength and capacity to construct or restore a business identity. As you work to build and register the IP that links your organization’s ideas and goals with your customers, we can help you with all areas of trademark filing, prosecution, and management.