November 13, 2019

Our thoughts on Facebook’s rebrand…


The Innovation team at Instinctif harness the best of the future to deliver market-leading ideas in the present. The team’s specialism spans digital strategy and marketing, data & analytics, and strategic brand. This fortnightly update shares top tips to help you foster creative and challenge the status quo and summarises the news that matters.

Our thoughts on Facebook’s big rebrand 

Last Monday, Facebook announced a new brand, called… FACEBOOKThe new FACEBOOK is now the parent company of Facebook (the app), Instagram and WhatsApp.

In our experience, there are roughly five key moments when a brand should consider a rebrand or brand refresh:

1. When they want to tap into a new demographic
2. When they outgrow their original mission
3. When the market is evolving quickly
4. When all they’ve got is a name and they need to cement their identity
5. When they want to shake off an old and untrusted image after having paid a record-breaking $5bn fine to the US government for violating the privacy rights of their customers and the New York Times say their product may have helped enable an actual genocide...

So here is FACEBOOK’s new look and feel – which has its work cut out for itself – wiping clean our collective memory.

The new identity is typeset in a bespoke sans serif spelt out in all caps which has been drawn by London’s own, Dalton Maag. The wordmark is elegant and as sophisticated as it is modern. The letterforms are harmoniously crafted of well-considered and consistent stroke weights. The terminals of each letterform have the most subtle nuance of a rounded edge which helps soften the heavy horizontal axis that UPPERCASE tends to create. The softer edges are also reminiscent of a time when almost all things were designed to be ‘appy’ with everything appearing framed in the centre of a round-edged square.

Maybe most important to note is the bucking of the tech trend to systematically tone-down their stern corporate screeds to that of an informal dialogue or even a cosy chat with their customers. This new wordmark does not do that, at all.

FACEBOOK says that cultural integration was important as it strategically included a diverse group of people ” … from across the company to design and work together.” Alongside the internal brand team and Dalton Maag, FACEBOOK worked with brand consultants Saffron to uncover their three creative routes, which culminated in the formation of ‘three design behaviours’ that informed the new brand system. These are defined by FACEBOOK as:

  1. Clarity: a brand that simplifies and builds understanding
  2. Empathy: a system that is respectful of context and environment
  3. Creating Space: design that supports

We share our thoughts on these three ‘design behaviours’ below:

1. Clarity
On their blog, chief marketing officer Antonio Lucio makes the case that “this brand change is a way to better communicate our ownership structure to the people and businesses who use” their “services”. We understand their bullet point on ‘clarity’ succinctly and effectively – as we can now clearly see ownership of FACEBOOKS’s products in situ. A gesture that was previously seen to be a cover-up, likening it to applying cheap perfume, when only of August this year it decided, in the smallest size in the history of mobile type, to state Facebook’s legal ownership of its products.

2. Empathy
About their second point, empathy has been a brand buzzword used by designers and marketers for the last 10 years, but we have never before seen it associated aesthetically with ALL CAPS.

The typographic trend which FACEBOOK has veered from is the modern convention of the setting a brand’s namesake in Sentence case and lower case type treatment. This practice has long been defined as a means to ‘empathetically’ align with a company’s audience, with how they speak and how they communicate. Setting the wordmark in ALLCAPS defies this.

The wordmark is somewhat stylish as it kinetically adapts to the master brand palette of the product it is featured on. As a visual identifier, graphically, it’s not progressive or state-of-the-art, but it is transparent and in such a complex digital world like today’s, simple is nice.

3. Creating space 
The ‘creating space’ –  which is addressing and registering the gaps (or chasms) in corporate culture – this is not the task for type alone. No ‘type’ of logo (UPPERCASE, Sentence case or lower case) is enough to fix this kind of an issue. With 47 state Attorney Generals currently investigating them for corporate blemishes, the veneer of an oscillating green and orange to purple gradient is likely to wear quickly…

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