While the Facebook platform is all too familiar, mired in data privacy and election interference scandals, its parent company of the same name is less so: A recent Pew survey found that less than a third of Americans know that Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp.
The company recently sought to change that via the creation of a corporate logo that’s markedly different from the lowercase, blocky wordmark that’s become synonymous with its namesake social media platform.
The corporate logo, which “uses custom typography and capitalization to create visual distinction between the company and app,” according to chief marketing officer Antonio Lucio, will begin making appearances in the coming weeks on Facebook’s subsidiaries, among them Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and Oculus.
It also appears in different colors depending on which platform it’s being viewed on, a bid to more tightly integrate Facebook the corporation with its various properties.
Since debuting earlier this week, the logo has received reactions ranging from the good, the bad and the ugly. Armin Vit, co-founder of graphic design firm UnderConsideration, described it as “a design exercise solved well,” albeit with the caveat that “nothing Facebook does right now will be considered positive” amid its ongoing privacy and consumer trust issues.
“Shoving all of the heavy, stinky baggage aside, the new logo is very good,” he wrote in a post on Brand New. “It may be boring, and it may be unimaginative, but this is a corporate parent brand, not a consumer-facing brand. This is what Alphabet is to Google or what PepsiCo is to Pepsi—corporate brands that support a multitude of consumer brands, each with their own identity.”
We’ve rounded up some more takes—some hotter than others—from designers and creatives in the industry, many of whom agree that the timing of the rebrand is curious, considering Facebook continues to face intense scrutiny from users and the government alike.
Jan Eumann, creative director, Wolff Olins
As a logo for a holding company, it’s neutral enough, well-drawn, and the fact that it can adapt to its product brands is a nice flex, especially if the role of Facebook becomes more apparent within each product. Facebook’s overall direction though—different story.
Kelli Miller, creative director and partner, And/Or
As far as corporate wordmarks go, this is a very nicely designed one. The typography feels familiar while also being unique and ownable. Some honest-to-goodness design craft went into the creation of the logo. It feels considered and contemporary, and has the flexibility to work nicely amongst the suite of Facebook brands without competing with them. The name confusion is going to be the biggest and most glaring challenge with this brand decision. It’s a pretty big head-scratcher.
I appreciate the effort to reframe the brand image of FACEBOOK (do we have to do that now? All caps?), but it feels like terrible timing. It might have been more successful if they had worked on regaining the public’s trust in real, actionable ways versus using marketing and branding as a tactic to reposition themselves. People are very savvy about these things. It’s going to be hard to use a nicely designed logo as an olive branch.
Dave Snyder, chief creative officer, Firstborn
It’s nice. It’s well crafted. In particular, I’m a fan of the “K” and the shape the leg makes off of the stem. I also find the ever-so-slight bulge found on the “A” quite smart. It’s simple and very well balanced.
I do think they should have considered a name other than Facebook for the corporate brand. That being said, by introducing a new name, they may open themselves up for an easier federal push to “break them up.” I have to imagine this was discussed.
Stacey Chapman, senior art director, Tom, Dick & Harry Creative
The new logo accomplishes a lot for me in an understated way that feels appropriate for a corporate logo. At first glance, it’s strong and simple, but close up, you can see there’s a lot of air and bubbliness found in the details. The subtle bowed character of the ‘A’ and ‘K’ feel thoughtful and unique. Is it groundbreaking? No. Does it appropriately respond to a complex brief? I think so.
Phil Koh, director of strategy, Without
The rebrand would seem to be an attempt to distance the group from the toxicity of the social network. From Cambridge Analytica to Russian election manipulation to explicitly allowing political advertising known to be lies, the Facebook brand tracks pretty negatively in current public discourse.
Perhaps by associating Facebook more obviously with more popular services like Instagram and WhatsApp, the ambition is to dilute the negative view of the corporate group (it’s a way of saying “we’re not all bad”). All the more important given their attempts to get their cryptocurrency Libra off the ground, in the face of hostility from governments around the world.
The risk of the new branding is that instead of detoxifying Facebook, they raise questions about privacy and security on Instagram and WhatsApp. It’s more likely that these services are tarred with the same brush as the social network than for positive associations to flow the other way.
Anne Swan, partner, Dear Future
I was underwhelmed, even though I understood the context behind the identity. The design team succeeded in creating a mark that does recede and become part of its environment. What they lost in the process was the intelligence and humanity that the brand should express.
Like Google’s Alphabet, I do believe that Facebook needed to redesign its parent company logo to be more inclusive of the brands they own. The idea of “From Facebook” is an interesting one, and they could have taken that idea further than just a sign-off.