Designers Side-Eye Facebook’s New Corporate Logo

Corporate rebrand comes as social giant strives to rebuild its image

the new facebook corporate logo
Facebook's corporate logo aims to distinguish it from the social media platform.
Facebook

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.

Like It

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.

It’s OK

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.

Simon Chong, associate creative director, Gretel
It’s difficult for a logo to carry the weight of a brand and all that it needs to express. Functionally, the logo works. From a typographic point of view, it manages to act as an effective counterpoint to the app’s logo, far removed from its blocky, lower-case wordmark. It creates a tone of strength, reliability and maturity.

However, possibly to imbue the name with the equity of the other products, the decision for a contextually aware color palette is curious.

Overall, the design feels like a functional exercise to tie their products closer to Facebook, rather than a reevaluation and articulation of the parent company’s higher purpose.

Stephen Clements, chief creative officer, Y Media Labs
Full transparency: My wife works at Facebook. So I’m risking my marriage here. But, here goes. It’s OK. I certainly don’t love it. I don’t particularly like it. But I don’t hate it. It looks like Facebook put all the trendy Silicon Valley redesigns of the last few years—Airbnb, Dropbox, Thumbtack, Uber, etc.—into an AI blender, put the “Safe” and “Corporate” dials at max, and this is what the algorithm churned out.

At least it doesn’t look like a sexy body part. But it doesn’t look like anything. It’s hard to care.

Ugh

Paul Levy, designer, Grady Britton
While I’m not a fan of generic wordmarks, I can tolerate them when they are the primary mark for a brand. What’s particularly confusing about Facebook’s new corporate mark is that it has to co-exist with the brand mark that, presumably, will continue to live on the platform. Creating a corporate mark that doesn’t leverage, or at least pay some kind of homage to, the brand mark seems confusing, bordering upon design malfeasance.

Jessie McGuire, managing director, ThoughtMatter
Facebook’s new logo doesn’t just distinguish the app from the larger company, but also manages to divorce itself from what it represents. Here’s a conglomerate using design to express its far-reaching influence—to declare who runs social media on this side of the world—but doing little to help us protect ourselves in an online, data-driven environment rampant with privacy breaches and manipulation (problems it helped create in the first place.)

The new corporate logo is a visual humblebrag to gain innocence by association, and bank on the popularity of its other relatively untarnished products without sacrificing the brand salience of its name.

Facebook’s rebrand sparks an interesting dialogue for the creative community on the role of design in creating or erasing associations. The new corporate logo can be seen as a genuine attempt to integrate all its services and establish corporate transparency while honoring its legacy, or a pointless exercise in vanity that potentially backfires.

Andrea Dunne, copywriter, Reed Words
As a company with such a sordid reputation, why have they resorted to shouting at us? There’s a trend of youth-focused brands like Made.com, Schuh and Adidas using either all uppercase or all lowercase letters in their name. But uppercase only works if you have something to shout about—which Facebook does not.

With trust at an all-time low, it’s unusual for Facebook to want to spoil the illusion people have with Instagram and WhatsApp. Some people forget that Facebook even owns these crisis-free, much cooler apps. Is putting their logo in uppercase at the bottom of these platforms Facebook’s attempt at being super clear and transparent? Or just another giant conglomerate reminding us they’re still in control?

David Prusko, adjunct lecturer, The New York City College of Technology
There is nothing interesting, unique or impactful [about] the new Facebook corporate logo in its execution or application, which could be a sign of the things to come. Or, an attempt to be a benign presence looking to ward off focused government scrutiny as Facebook’s shameless actions and manipulations come to light.

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