WATCH: Is Facebook’s rebrand a bid for relevance?
JOHANNESBURG – Facebook has just announced that they are going to rebrand as FACEBOOK, with a new logo and design schema to match their all-caps iteration.
While the change has mainly elicited what can only be deemed as eyerolls from major media outlets, the brand is clearly trying to distance itself from the numerous scandals it has faced including allegations of data breaches, manipulation of the police force, criticism from former employees and shareholders, abuse of employees and of course, accusations that the brand has directly fueled a genocide.
The rebrand extends to the more popular apps owned by Facebook: Whatsapp, Messenger and Instagram, which will soon be labeled as “brought to you by Facebook”. Some have argued that this is the brand’s bid to become more transparent (and avoid fines) while more cynical brand experts feel that the company is cannibalizing the healthier reputations of their apps to improve public perception.
It’s also important to remember that the average Facebook user is 40.5 years old; on Instagram, 65% of users are younger than thirty. If Facebook hopes to remain relevant, they have to bring back a demographic that probably had not been born when the company first launched fifteen years ago.
What Facebook has essentially discovered is that it’s much harder to make positive headlines when you are peppered with negative publicity: they’ve donated millions to science programs (and threw a million towards Wikipedia) and their charity causes have amassed $2 billion. Very few of their positive news stories make headlines the way their competitors’ do. A new logo is a guaranteed way to get consumers talking about the brand again.
Whether the more popular brands tossing them a lifeline will pull them out of a terrible PR year or merely see them dragged along when the next crisis hits remains to be seen.
Estelle Nagel is head of marketing at Gumtree SA.