The Metaverse is here
Updated: Nov 12
Today, Facebook unveiled its new brand identity; Meta.
This is a huge moment we need to talk about. For tech, for branding, for marketing - and for the future of our lives, let's be honest.
Before we dive into our marketing analysis and brand critique, let's back up a few steps:
For months now, the Zuck and his merrymen have been touting the concept of the metaverse. Repeated over and over again like a life-depending, spiritual mantra, the self-fulfilling prophecy of the virtual world is the hottest thing in tech right now. Blockchain, NFTs, cryptocurrencies... These "New Age" buzzwords are dimmed by the metaverse.
Just look at Bloom client, Gatherings by Mesmerise, the B2B virtual reality solution for large-scale conferences connecting people in more, and better ways than before.
So, cleverly-timed with their own buzzy, word-of-mouth campaign in the run-up to the reveal, the new name is announced against a backdrop of Frances Haugen whistleblowing, corporate scandals, and debates on which planet Mark Zuckerberg actually originates.
Naturally, this has led all the critics to say this rebrand is a strategic attempt to distance the company away from its recent negative press. The branding & marketing flippant among them have shockingly dismissed the sheer importance of the whole new identity, going as far to comment that re-brands are a total waste of time & money. Of course, we beg to differ.
Politics aside, we're here to deep dive on the new Meta brand identity from our creative marketing in technology perspective:
Stephanie Melodia, MD & Founder of Bloom, is in favour of the move and a fan of the new direction.
For one, a whole new identity divorced from one of the apps in its portfolio is just sensible brand architecture. Facebook in itself is a ridiculous name anyway (come on). Dropping the "The" was about as far as they could improve the brand during its natural evolution, but as the business amassed and acquired other tech products, it left a gaping hole for an umbrella identity that was yet to be considered in isolation - i.e. a brand identity for the holding company for what it is, not an inherited name from 19-year-old Zuck's college dorm.
Next, despite 'Meta' meaning 'dead' in Hebrew (I'm dead), I like the name. It's punchy, simple, nicely-balanced with just 4 letters, neatly following a consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel formula (no thanks, Carol), it's easy to say in most languages, there's little room for mispronunciation - not to mention the irony in the definition of "meta" for something calling itself Meta.
The name also demonstrates their commitment to the metaverse - the concept pushed in the run-up to the reveal. It's totally separate from all the other names in its portfolio now; Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus... None even start with the same letter; my inner Monica is feeling very zen.
From a design perspective, the new logo carries the simplicity expected of a top tech player today. Simple, no frills, black sans serif typeface nicely balanced with curvature and colour in the accompanying icon. Ok. Does it remind me of the Movistar logo? Yes. Yes, it does.
The symmetry in the looping 'M' icon represents balance, eternity, and - what I like to deduce as - the representation of the real world on one side, the metaverse on the other. (Mark Zuckerberg talked about the future of technology delivering seamless-ness between the online and offline worlds in today's annual Connect event, conjuring ideas of attending a festival with a friend while one of you is at home in your pyjamas, for example).
And what about those mangy critics?
Of course, every person and business has a moral obligation to do good - especially big firms and top tech companies that wield the mighty power. And especially with so much surrounding controversy. We know that. What we don't all know is how performative and superficial this re-brand is for the business. Was this re-brand exercise conducted in a way that dug in and got under the skin of the people and culture to serve as an authentic catalyst for more socially responsible behaviour moving forward? One that authentically defined the true vision, mission, and purpose of the business, before outputting the visual we all know and come to recognise as "a brand"?
(Side note: a brand is not a logo. A brand is the core essence of your company and how its communicated with its audiences).
Sophie Jones, Account Executive at Bloom, believes the rebrand clarifies the new direction of the company and lifts others.
I think that Meta was a good move by Mark and his team. It draws a line in the sand and shows everyone the direction the company wants to move in. Facebook was stuck and suffocated by its name. It’s time to let Meta free, free to innovate and change the way we communicate.
I’m happy for Meta but I am happier for other companies currently operating in this space, they finally have the mainstream media talking about what they do. The average person might have had no idea what VR even meant before. Now they are asking questions about the Metaverse and about virtual reality. Personally I believe that the best part of this whole rebrand is the chance for smaller companies to gain more users than they previously would have had BM (before Meta).
Alyssa Johnson, Strategy Director at Bloom thinks this is a brilliant brand move and about time for Facebook to shine a light on the exciting metaverse - although she urges an exercise in caution.
Facebook have been reviewing the company's stature for a while now. The brand was starting to stagnate and losing relevancy - and in one swift move they've regained their exciting status as a tech leader.
Part of the excitement is not only the untapped potential of VR/XR but the huge portal that's now been opened by Facebook (now Meta) for the hundreds of other companies also creating exciting solutions in the metaverse - firmly validating what they know from years ago. Now everyone's paying attention and talking about the metaverse at large, those smaller names who weren't so well-known now have a huge wave on which to ride this wave.
That being said, there is a real potential for the metaverse to take people even further from reality, and brands will now have a responsibility to learn how to balance exciting new innovations and technology while still reminding their audience that this is not reality and encouraging responsible usage in moderation.
Strongly taking one side without addressing the consequences or alternative potentials is unfounded. We all (including Facebook) still have a lot to learn, and I for one will be watching brands closely to see how they handle these new opportunities responsibly.
I think this will also further validate our favourable thoughts on the topic and that we’re considering all sides.
What tech was capable of 15-20 years ago - with platforms like Second Life - are met with an inclination to proceed with caution, no matter how exciting the potential seems. We still know so little but I'm excited to see where we're headed!