Facebook has unveiled new corporate branding as it looks to unite its family of apps and make it clearer which platforms and services it owns.
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.
“This brand change is a way to better communicate our ownership structure to the people and businesses who use our services to connect, share, build community and grow their audiences,” Lucio explains in a blog post.
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.
Facebook has been slowly introducing its brand to its services, with a version of the ‘from Facebook’ messaging appearing on WhatsApp and Instagram since March. This is the first time the corporate entity has had its own branding, however.
The move comes as Facebook faces increasing scrutiny from regulators and governments over the extent of its power and influence online. In the US, the Federal Trade Commission is investigating its ownership of Instagram and WhatsApp, while prominent politicians such as Elizabeth Warren, who is running for the Democratic nomination for president, have suggested she would look to separate the services.
It could also help to clear up confusion among users. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, just 29% of Americans know that Facebook owns WhatsApp and Instagram, 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.
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.
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.
That has led to its brand value decreasing – by 2% to $158.9bn according to Kantar BrandZ data – despite the continuing growth of its ad business. Instagram, meanwhile, was one of the fastest risers.
While there are benefits to Facebook of being more closely associated with Instagram and WhatsApp, the reverse is also likely true. As our columnist 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.”