Can a new name save face?

Rumours are swirling that Facebook’s parent company is set to launch a new name. But is renaming enough to surmount our growing distrust of social media/the metaverse?

By Amy Scott, Writer - Re

Nov 2021

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Facebook. It’s arguably one of the most recognisable and influential brands of our time, and its name was spawned from drunk frat boys rating the hotness of women in an online forum.

Earlier this week, a source from the nearly $1 trillion company told The Verge that Facebook’s parent company will be renaming, in order to “reflect its focus on building the metaverse.” From social media to metaverse, it appears more than just the company name is getting a linguistic makeover.

The timing is indeed interesting. When you look at the lay of the land, Facebook is currently facing threats from all sides – a damning whistleblower scandal, mounting scrutiny from policymakers, and general distrust from users wising up to the pitfalls of social media.

Working in brand, we see this kind of brief a lot. What started as one thing (a website ranking women by appearance) became another (a multinational tech conglomerate set on building the mythical metaverse). The name does not reflect how far the brand has come. Thank god for progress.

All things considered, a new name for the parent brand makes sense. It’s a smart move to clarify the company’s brand architecture, putting ‘the big blue app’ on a level playing field with other sub-brands like Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus.

It’s a chance to rearticulate Facebook’s brand purpose and its vision for the future. And we’d be remiss not to see it as a powerful opportunity to move past the reputational damage inextricably linked to the Facebook name.

The cynic in me senses a play straight out of the tobacco and petrol industry handbook – changing a name to distract from the issues at hand. But my competing inner optimist hopes for a true reset, and perhaps a more ethical internet on the horizon.

If there’s one thing to take away from it all, it’s that a name – no matter how sexist or limiting it may be – will not hold you back from taking over the world if your vision is strong.

Written by Amy Scott, Associate Verbal Design Director at Re|Sydney

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