The New Meta: Facebook’s Rebranding

November 3, 2021 - 6 minutes read

Depending on who you talk to, the word ‘Meta’ could mean several things. In video gaming, calling something ‘Meta’ means that the community generally agrees the item(s) or strategy to be the best in the game at the time. Or, for use in search engine optimization, HTML ‘meta’ tags are used to gain visibility for a website.

For Facebook, Meta is the company’s new identity that also boasts the popular apps Instagram and WhatsApp. Or, to be more accurate, Meta is the beginning of what Mark Zuckerberg hopes will become the metaverse. His vision is nothing less than the reinvention or reimagination for the future of human digital interaction and social connection. A new and completely immersive internet that is beyond anything we currently have today.

This change seems like a somewhat direct rebranding and new direction for the company, but this major announcement has quite a lot to digest. As an Austin-based app development firm, closely tied to the technology space, we wanted to take the time to dissect this monumental change for Facebook. Let’s dive in.

What’s Changed?

The unveiling of Meta as the new name for the company formerly known as Facebook means more than just a better-defined corporate structure or a break from an embattled company image. “Right now, our brand is so tightly linked to one product that it can’t possibly represent everything that we’re doing today, let alone in the future,” Zuckerberg said.

 Zuckerberg’s vision is bold as the company name of Meta is tied to what he is calling the metaverse. No, this is not straight out of the Marvel cinematic universe or some other pop culture reference. Well, okay, technically, the metaverse is a science fiction reference. For Meta, however, the metaverse, in this case, references a new vision for our online world that leans heavily into virtual and augmented reality technology. In some ways, it’s hard not to draw a parallel to the world in Ready Player One.

 Want to watch a concert in Dubai with your friend, but you both live in Montana? No problem. In the metaverse, you can attend by slipping on your Meta Quest headset (Oculus is getting a rebranding too) and connecting through Horizon Home (yup, what was previously Facebook Horizon). Now you are virtually experiencing and engaging with the concert rather than just watching a live stream of it.

 “The next platform and medium will be even more immersive and embodied internet where you’re in the experience, not just looking at it,” said CEO Mark Zuckerberg said. “We believe the metaverse will be the successor to the mobile internet.”

Leaving the Past Behind

However, it is hard not to be a little skeptical that the timing of the Meta rebranding announcement wasn’t entirely coincidental. A change of this stature isn’t done on a whim (usually) and takes some time to get all the pieces in place before the big reveal. But any observer with a critical eye will wonder if the leak of Facebook Files by Frances Haugen didn’t push up the timeline for Meta’s reveal.

 The criticisms leveled at Facebook for the troubling information that made recent headlines by the leaked internal documents is but a series of missteps the company has made in recent years. Facebook continues to struggle globally with how it handles (or doesn’t) the spread of false and misinformation.

 Aside from a wise business decision to divorce Facebook as the focal identity of the entire company from a corporate perspective, Meta is an attempt to provide a new umbrella of which Facebook (and Instagram and WhatsApp) are merely entities of.

Meta’s new logo still incorporates the familiar blue from the Facebook logo, but the ‘F’ on the blue block is replaced by a blue, infinity-like image in the shape of an ‘M.’ Almost like the infinity sign was pulled down on the bottom. The new Meta logo also resembles the shape of an Xbox controller. It’s simple, familiar, and memorable like all good brand logos should be.

How Will This Affect you?

In the short term, aside from new images, cosmetic upgrades, and Meta advertisements, your daily experiences with Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp will essentially be the same for the immediate future. Each application will retain its name and brand identify, for now at least. Application interfaces will remain the same, as will how you interact with them.

 The vision behind the rebranding to Meta seems to be more about the future, from both a corporate vision and technological standpoint, as much as it is a break from the Facebook brand as the entire company’s identity.

 It is hard not to draw parallels to when Google named the parent company Alphabet as part of its rebranding and corporate restructuring. However, for you, the daily user of either Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp (or all three), not much will be different. And for sure, Zuckerberg hopes you continue to engage with the Meta applications, one post, photo, or message at a time.

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