Even snakes have to shed their skins.
Facebook is reportedly changing its company name in an effort to rebrand itself in keeping with CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of “building the metaverse,” according to The Verge. It wants to be known for more than being just a pretty Facebook, but it’s Instagram, Oculus, WhatsApp, and other products too.
Facebook’s name has been more like “Mud” these past few months.
In the same way Google suddenly became a subsidiary of Alphabet, Facebook could even create a holding company called Holy Bible, but a damaged brand is a damaged brand. Back in March, Facebook was tied with TikTok as the tech giant Americans trust least.
Facebook could rename itself, but that route would merely be cosmetic. The very DNA of the Facebook brand has to do an about-face before Capitol Hill and angry parents show up at 1 Hacker Way with pitchforks and kerosene lamps.
Here are three possible branding paths Facebook may consider to lift its reputation:
Facebook becomes a purpose-driven brand. To stop problems before they begin, Facebook would have to move its morality compass closer to the younger generations it covets so much. That means genuinely morphing into a brand with purpose, like Ben & Jerry or REI.
In this scenario, Facebook would recruit a group of individuals known for their wisdom, integrity, and admiration to join its board, take senior advisory positions, and steer the company into truly benefiting the world. Enlist MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” recipients or TED speakers.
Erect a paywall around Facebook, drop the advertising, and make it a premium media product. Despite Zuckerberg denying Facebook is a media company to Congress, its algorithms decide what news and videos the world sees on its feeds. Why don’t they just come clean and model themselves after one?
As long as the bar to entry is zero and Facebook is supported by ads, controversy will hound every moment of its existence.
A better plan: Swap ads for a paywall, while transforming to a full-fledged media company focusing on friends and family, groups, and live events and chats. Instead of begging for controversy with outside content providers, the company hires its own editorial staff led by award-winning journalists.
It would be like merging a current media business model like Business Insider or The Wall Street Journal with a community-focused social network.
Facebook actually becomes a technology company: Mark Zuckerberg once told Congress: “I consider us to be a technology company.” The media pushed back, saying he didn’t determine what Facebook is, and it all went downhill from there.
The debate could stop altogether if Facebook spun off its social network (including Instagram) to a responsible group and walked the walk as the technology company Zuckerberg says it is. That leaves the new company to focus on its Oculus virtual reality headsets, augmented reality studio Spark AR, and whatever little metaverse hardware dreams Zuck wants to pursue -- with a new name, of course.