On November 4th, Facebook unveiled a new logo that meant to represent the parent company that owns Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and more. The logo just says “Facebook,” but in a really bland and generic font that looks like it would fit well on a credit card. A GIF shows the word mark displaying in different colors to represent the different brands — blue for Facebook proper, green for WhatsApp, pinkish for Instagram, and so on.
The changes will see Facebook introduce a company logo that aims to distinguish Facebook the company from Facebook the app. It has its own typography and capitalisation in a move that CMO Antonio Lucio says will create a “visual distinction” between the company and app.
The move highlights its effort to be more clear with consumers about the apps it owns. A recent survey by nonpartisan think tank Pew found that only 29% of Americans correctly answered that Instagram and WhatsApp are owned by Facebook, while 49% are “not sure” and 22% did not know.
This despite the fact that behind the scenes the three services are operating much more closely. For example, advertisers can now create Stories and share them across Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. That “interoperability”, as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg calls it, is only set to increase.
“You should be able to use any of our apps to reach your friends, and you should be able to communicate across our networks easily and securely,” Zuckerberg told analysts during its first quarter earnings call earlier this year.
The corporate Facebook brand will now appear on all its apps, including WhatsApp, Instagram, Oculus, Messenger and Portal. It will appear in prominent positions, for example users will see “from Facebook” appear on the log-in screen. This is the first time the corporate entity has had its own branding.
However, that increasing interoperability has not gone down well with everyone at the company. The founders of Instagram – Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom – reportedly left after becoming uncomfortable at the increasing role Facebook was paying in its operations. The same is reportedly true for the founders of WhatsApp, in particular Facebook’s different approach to privacy.
While there are benefits to Facebook of being more closely associated with Instagram and WhatsApp, the reverse is also likely true. There are other concerns about bringing the brands closer together. The Facebook brand has been tainted by a number of scandals over the past few years, most notably Cambridge Analytica.
As Mark Ritson wrote earlier this year: “The one obvious brand management implication would be keeping your current and future acquisitions ring-fenced from Facebook’s toxic brand image.”
Whether it’s good or bad to emphasize the unity and wholeness of all apps of Facebook company, we will wait and see.