Facebook is changing its name to Meta as it shifts its focus from social media to the metaverse. Meta, which also means "beyond", represents the next chapter that is a future created by everyone that will take society beyond what digital connection makes possible today - beyond the constraints of screens. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said:
From now on, we will be metaverse-first, not Facebook-first. That means that over time you won't need a Facebook account to use our other services.
This rebranding also means Facebook will start trading under the new stock ticker, MVRS, on 1 December. Its corporate structure remains the same and Meta plans to report on two operating segments: Family of Apps and Reality Labs beginning with results for the fourth quarter of 2021.
The new symbol is blue in colour and drawn from a single line in space, forming a continuous loop that works seamlessly between 2D and 3D contexts. It is designed to be experienced from different perspectives and interacted with. It can resemble an "M" for "Meta" and also at times an infinity sign, signifying infinite horizons in the metaverse.
According to Facebook, the Meta symbol was designed to "dynamically live in the metaverse", where one can move through and around it. It can also take on infinite textures, colours and movement, capturing the creativity and imagination of a 3D world. At the same time, the symbol also takes on a blue gradient and pulls in the colour of the company's core products.
The Meta wordmark was designed to be simple and effective in a wide range of applications - from the smallest in-app use case to the immersive world of the metaverse itself. The wordmark uses the company's typeface that was introduced in 2019.
It will still take a few more months for Meta to fully roll out the brand across all the relevant products and surfaces. Some of Meta's most popular apps and products, including the Facebook app, will keep the same name, while some of the others will be changing. For example, Facebook Reality Labs will become Reality Labs, Oculus Quest from Facebook will become Meta Quest; Oculus App will become Meta Quest App. This change means they are all now from Meta, not Facebook.
"Right now our brand is so tightly linked to one product that it can't possibly represent everything we're doing today, let alone in the future. Over time, I hope we are seen as a metaverse company, and I want to anchor our work and our identity on what we're building towards," Zuckerberg said. Facebook follows in the footsteps of rival Google, which created holding company Alphabet in 2015.
While the mass adoption of the metaverse and other related technologies might not happen any time soon, AdColony's SVP, Asia Pacific, Tom Simpson, told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that Facebook wants to start building credibility and work closely and collaboratively with other businesses, governments, regulators. "Facebook isn't attempting to build THE metaverse - it is building FOR the metaverse. Like the early days of the Internet, this is an open ecosystem many companies will develop for," he said.
He added that the shift from Web2 to Web3 represents an existential question for the centralised platform-era businesses of Facebook, Amazon and Google. "It is interesting to see how they balance revenue and shareholder demands with the challenges and opportunities of a more open and decentralised ecosystem," Simpson said.
Similarly, Conductor's VP of marketing, Lindsey Hagan, also likened the metaverse to be like the Internet in the early 90s, adding that it is still not considered mainstream and it’s barely on consumers’ radars. "Having Facebook put a stake in the ground around AR/VR could help accelerate its ubiquity in the market by making hardware and software that consumers will adopt and find value in," she explained.
Meanwhile, the ticker change to MVRS has caused a flurry of activity on social media, with several users asking if FAANG - the trading acronym for Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Alphabet - will now be called MAANG. Some cheekily said they will call it MANGA instead.
Meanwhile, some netizens also poked fun at the new name. One said the only Meta users acknowledge is former NBA player Meta World Peace who was previously known as Ron Artest. Another said the company should stop trying to make meta happen.
News of Facebook's potential rebranding broke last week, with media outlets such as Reuters and The Verge reporting that the move was likely to position the flagship Facebook app as one of the several products under a parent company with brands such as WhatsApp, Instagram, and Oculus.
It also comes at a time when Facebook is engulfed in a media firestorm about the harm its platform poses to users and the impact it has on teenagers' mental health. Former Facebook employee and whistleblower, Frances Haugen, also leaked internal documents to multiple news outlets including the Financial Times and NBC News after first revealing it to The Wall Street Journal.
Bob Hoffman, author of Advertising For Skeptics and an influential figure in the ad scene, said in a recent LinkedIn post that the move "could not come at a worse time" for Facebook and that every report about the new brand will reference and rehash the series of allegations against the company. "The reported rebrand and Zuckerberg’s obsession with the metaverse is a last-ditch effort by Zuckerberg to rescue his image as a fumbling, flailing one-hit wonder, and reposition himself as some sort of futuristic 'visionary'," he said previously.
Agreeing with him was Mike Proulx, Forrester's VP and research director, who said while it will help alleviate confusion by distinguishing Facebook’s parent company from its founding app, a name change does not suddenly erase the systemic issues plaguing the company.
"If Meta doesn’t address its issues beyond a defensive and superficial altitude, those same issues will occupy the metaverse," he said. According to Proulx, the success of Meta's metaverse strategy boils down to trust.
Citing its proprietary data, Proulx said Forrester found that 41% of online adults surveyed in the US say they trust the company. In the UK, this number only stands at 26%. "If the majority of online adults don’t trust Facebook as a social media company, why would they trust it as a metaverse company? Without trust, Meta’s metaverse plans are already at risk," he added.
Meanwhile, Rishad Tobaccowala, author and Publicis Groupe's former chief growth officer, told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that the name change puts some distance between the reputation issues of Facebook and the newer brands that are well regarded, such as Oculus. "The rebranding also reflects the reality that the Facebook brand is now smaller than the combined Instagram and WhatsApp brand, and is growing slower and is the least important part," he explained.
Earlier this week, Zuckerberg said during its earnings call that metaverse is "a major investment" for the company and an important part of its strategy. He first began talking about transitioning from a social media to a metaverse company in July this year. Subsequently, Facebook invested US$50 million in a XR Programs and Research fund for a period of two years to collaborate with industry partners, civil rights groups, non-profits and academic institutions to build the metaverse responsibly.
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