Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Facebook’s Name Change Won’t Fix Anything

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When Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook, in 2004, it was a mere listing of scholars at Harvard: The Face Book. Two many years, 90 acquisitions, and billions of {dollars} later, Facebook has change into a family identify. Now it needs a brand new one.

Zuckerberg is predicted to announce a brand new identify for the corporate subsequent week at Facebook Connect, the corporate’s annual convention, as first reported by The Verge. This new identify—meant to embody Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, and the remainder of the household—will make clear the corporate as a conglomerate, with ambitions past social media. The Facebook app is likely to be the cornerstone of the corporate, however Zuckerberg has been very clear that the way forward for the corporate belongs to the metaverse.

But what’s in a reputation? In Facebook’s case, it comes with robust associations, some reputational harm, scrutiny from Congress, and disapproval from most people. The Facebook identify has led to a “trust deficit” in a few of its current endeavors, together with its enlargement into cryptocurrency. By renaming the mother or father firm, Facebook may give itself an opportunity to beat that. It wouldn’t be the primary company behemoth to hunt some goodwill with a brand new moniker: Cable companies do it on a regular basis.

Still, branding specialists—and branding amateurs on Twitter—aren’t satisfied that renaming the corporate will do a lot to appropriate reputational issues or distance itself from current scandals.

“Everyone knows what Facebook is,” says Jim Heininger, founding father of Rebranding Experts, a agency that focuses solely on rebranding organizations. “The most effective way for Facebook to address the challenges that have tainted its brand recently is through corrective actions, not trying to change its name or installing a new brand architecture.”

Facebook’s determination to rename itself comes simply after whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked 1000’s of pages of inner paperwork to The Wall Street Journal, exposing an organization with out a lot regard for public good. The paperwork spurred a hearing on Capitol Hill, the place already Congress has, for years, been discussing the opportunity of regulating Facebook or breaking apart its conglomerate.

A brand new identify may give the corporate a facelift. But “a name change is not a rebrand,” says Anaezi Modu, the founder and CEO of Rebrand, which advises firms on model transformations. Branding comes from an organization’s mission, tradition, and capabilities, extra than simply its identify, brand, or advertising and marketing. “Unless Facebook has serious plans to address at least some of its many issues, just changing a name is pointless. In fact, it can worsen matters.” Renaming an organization can create extra distrust if it comes off as distancing itself from its popularity.

Modu says renaming does make sense to make clear an organization’s group, the way in which different conglomerates have. When Google restructured in 2015, it named its mother or father firm Alphabet, to replicate its development past only a search engine (Google) to now embody various endeavors (DeepMind, Waymo, Fitbit, and Google X, amongst others). Most individuals nonetheless consider the corporate as Google, however the identify Alphabet is a sign for a way the corporate matches collectively.

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