Facebook is hoping that by differentiating its company brand from its flagship application, it will address the argument that many consumers of the company's applications don't understand that those apps are all owned by one big parent company, and that if they did, they might consume/behave differently.
I don't think this branding really makes any difference, except giving them the ability to say, "Hey, we did SOMETHING."
But what I think we can say for sure is that this is not just a typical new branding announcement.
"People know we are one company" isn't a defense against monopoly power.
Just because Google doesn't have that specific aggravating factor and there is still a question of whether they have monopoly power, doesn't mean that said aggravating factor doesn't count for something.
If so, I don't think it's a distinction with a difference, as antitrust attention is going to focus on the umbrella, regardless of its name. I'd say your FB example has already been dealt with in the horizontal instance of Internet Explorer, while the Google collective is more vertical. Different flavors of umbrella, but that's what gets dismantled.
IANAEconomist, but hopefully my point comes through.
Anyway thanks for explaining.
A lot of companies dominate their markets but don't engage in overt anti-competitive behaviour.
I don't think they've ever been enforced to serve some political end, like punishing companies for not serving some greater democratic purpose to appease the political parties.
Of course, healthy competition & pricing is a core issue here (duh). But power, in all its forms, is also a key issue. The founding fathers were very concerned about a corporation gaining too much power and interfering with democracy .
In addition, Facebook is constantly engaged in anti-competitive and unacceptable behavior, including buying multiple competitors (anti-competitive) and lying about its product (the recent inflated-ad-views scandal, which was literally a scam). The antitrust case against fb is complicated by the nature of the business, but there are plenty of very good reasons for the gov to investigate fb for antitrust violations .
Matt Stoller has done some good writing on monopoly, so has Binyamin Appelbaum. Both of them have books worth reading.
: In 1816, Thomas Jefferson, principal author of the Declaration of Independence, said he hoped to "crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country." (https://www.stamfordadvocate.com/local/article/Angela-Carell...)
Like many of Jefferson's quotes, this one and yours are both out of context, with yours being in reference to a wealthy elite dodging taxes illegally. That context is a bit different than wanting the government breaking up a social media company because you disagree with it's methods of managing free speech.
The US sees anti-trust as necessary when consumers are negatively impacted. The EU sees anti-trust as necessary when producers are negatively impacted.
The latter is, of course, always colored by politics.
I will also note that the nature of the social network market, with its network effects, means that a large enough system with a closed API is, under those constraints, by definition anti-competitive - certainly to producers, and possibly to consumers.
This statement is interesting, considering what it implies about the purpose of existence of producers for each respective side. With this stance, US is more like "producers exist to satisfy needs of customers", while EU is "producers exist just to compete with each other".
Once basic life needs are met, optimizing for customers tends to only good for someone who is living off their savings/welfare/etc. Optimizing for employees is good if you, like the majority of the people on Earth, have to work for a living, or are supported by someone who has to work for a living.
Everybody eats food, pays taxes, pays tariffs, and benefits from the protection of the military, but 300 million people who pay marginally fewer taxes and tariffs, eat marginally cheaper food, and enjoy the defense of a marginally more effective and efficient military are often "outvoted" by geographic concentrations of tens of thousands of people who have substantial vested interests.
Given this inherent bias in democracy, I think it makes sense for policy to at least try to favor the consumer over the producer, just because producers do a good job taking care of themselves already.
That wasn't always true. The US was once fond of trust- busting.
Note: I’m not American, I’m not in the USA, but this applies to most postal services worldwide.
Why? The biggest USPS customer base (unsolicited bulk mail) got pissed.
If you saw how much spam I get via snail mail maybe you’d understand a little more.
And as mentioned elsewhere, it was broken up, and then allowed to recongeal.
>We've never had communications platforms so centralized
Oh sure you may have the option to elect a few select people at different levels but the vast majority is not subject to your whims or even large groups of people.
the reason is simple, in facebook's case and other companies which provide people a new way to assemble is that politicians do not control the message and that is intolerable to many of them. they pretty much had the news industry in their back pocket for generations but the internet blew that away when anyone could be the news.
so don't subscribe to these fear tactics that big bad companies are taking our privacy and freedom, government is just jealous because it has all that and never had to share
Also, I believe your comment is in violation of the guidelines: "Please don't post insinuations about astroturfing, shilling, brigading, foreign agents and the like. It degrades discussion and is usually mistaken." and "Don't be snarky. Comments should get more thoughtful and substantive, not less, as a topic gets more divisive."
If you think about it, corruption is legal in the US through lobbies, and the larger and more powerful a company is, the easier it is for the company to influence policies and how the country is being run.
Well, whether we go so far as to say lobby = corruption, I think the idea is to bring more transparency and accountability to the general problem.
Any society with free movement of capital is going to have issues with accumulated economic capital impacting politics.
A democratic republic such as the USA hopes to address this issue by formalizing the channels the public can access the government.
Right now I'd give us a 5/10 on that scale.
Where's China on that scale? I don't have enough info to say...
Most agree it was effective when the government broke up Standard Oil, and when they broke up AT&T, among others. Microsoft was not broken up (although it got really close), but they sure got a slap, partly from the EU.
And they changed their behavior, rather dramatically, for the better in the years since.
The idea being that more competition is better.
I think the first question you should be asking is "why do free market economies need antitrust enforcement?" And then take it from there.
Personally I think that free markets just don't work with products that are zero marginal cost. I don't necessarily have a solution, but it sure seems like the rules just don't work well anymore.
Still, breaking up any company for being too successful is a great way to keep your economy from growing. I don't imagine sane politicians will actually follow through, especially since breaking up trusts in the past did almost nothing to help the consumers it was supposed to.
Trustbusting is a very blunt instrument and there's not much data that it actually drives the results it intends. It would be better to address the market conditions that drive the industry to a monopoly.
I know that Facebook + Twitter political ads are "powerful", as well as "fake news" spreading when it is relates to politics. I'd be curious to hear any other examples if you have them.
Remember Twitter gloating about its role in the Arab Spring? They’re a psychological weapon that can overturn societies overnight. And they’ll do it just for a few more ad clicks.
Keeping aside the question whether FB should be broken up or not, having such power is incredibly dangerous. And they brought it upon themselves, by making a big push for being the primary conduit for all aspects of people's lives, Friends, Family, Events, News, Opinion, Shopping, etc.
If they haven't done it (yet), it's only because they've decided not to (so far).
Just because they were giving some support to the Republican party, doesn't disprove my assertion at all.
Empathy is a human characteristic. To think that a word mark can have (or even create) it is patently ridiculous. In fact, I'd say it cheapens the meaning of the word to the point where true empathy means less.
This press release contains a type of language specific to our current time that will age like milk.
The rest of the world has very strong negative reactions when confronted with a product branded like this:
...and they have very positive reactions to a product branded like this:
How could the reaction be so different when we're just talking about a few lines, curves, colors and aesthetics?
It turns out, most humans are emotionally stimulated by visual associations and stories. This is the definition of branding. Empathy would be understanding that most people are not like us.
I think you're both engaging in and are affected by mythologizing and branding right in your comment so perhaps neither you nor the people you're referring to are as 'hyper-rational' as you imagine. I doubt anyone is particularly emotionally engaged by Slack's inoffensive hipster-corporatist design language and for a work tool, that's probably both intentional and about right. Vim, on the other hand, is one of the closest things programmers have to a full-on impractical fashion trend, a sort of aspirational zoot suit. There are even special ribbons for the pork pie hat:
However, I'm also certain the hipster-corporatist brand aesthetic of products like Slack is exactly part of the appeal. It definitely signals that slack is a tool used by a certain "tribe." And if you aspire to be in that tribe, this tool is for you. Call it the tribe of life-work optimizers and the open office, if you will.
Slack's branding certainly has a purpose but I think it's more about broad acceptance than individual aspirations - it has to look like something people use at work. There's a whiff of 'tech' and even playfulness to it but it's sensibly calibrated to be business-anodyne. There is also an element of edginess but it's neatly and entirely contained in the name. By this point, though, 'Slack' has almost become a generic term for 'work chat' so there's little danger anyone with purchasing authority is going to confuse it with one of the foundational concepts of the Church of the SubGenius™.
Slack's branding is more akin to the logo you see on the side of the floor buffing machine building maintenance workers guide around the office at night. That's not there to inspire anyone to join the hardworking tribe of building maintenance workers.
Of course typography expresses character, tonality, emotion. The shapes used evoke openness, are humanistic & soft - lots of human traits you can associate with them.
But in the end it's about describing expression. Calling a certain curvature "empathic" on the other hand is a whole load of marketing bs.
The difference is important. Influencing does not necessarily imply malice and exploitation. Manipulation does.
They don't "result" in empathy, but the design is meant to reinforce that.
In our inherited tradition of typography, the modernist era inspired so-called geometric letterforms based on very few basic shapes, and while those letterforms were very distinctive, clear, and straightforward, they lacked the familiar structure, that "human" and "organic" feel that comes out of handwritten letterforms.
This brand chosen for facebook is, at its core, geometric; it reinforces and puts center the notion of clarity that it intends to communicate. This clarity and simplicity is actually quite practically demonstrable: you see that the branding team demonstrates it in various shades superimposed on all kinds on stock branding photos and video, and yet it is recognizable and easily identifiable. Not all marks of companies can be used in this way; some are so inflexible that they can only be displayed in one palette in fixed Pantone colors before a white background.
Nonetheless, as they are proud to state, the mark deviates from the geometric paradigm in a subtle yet clear way in the curved strokes of the A and K. It is not so overdone that it obscures the inherent clarity and simplicity of the geometric paradigm, but clearly present to show a conscious acknowledgement and recognition.
Ironically, in the branding videos with the FB mark superimposed, the extreme versatility and yet extreme distinctiveness of the FB mark highlights a very FB-ish behavior. They want to, and want to be able to fit into all kinds of social space that you have, and to do so without losing its distinct FB identity, so that you are aware of its presence in all kinds of social activity that you experience.
To a large extent, it has accomplished that (e.g. use of FB and IG in marketing and organizing events).
for reference, the coca cola brand is worth an estimated 57 billion USD, and at the end of the day it is just a curvy font and some colors. It's worth at least a few million to maximize brand recognition by choosing the right curvy font.
Letters that have human like shapes generate empathy and becomes easier to read. That's one of the first thing they taught us. You need a touch of organic feel to the letters shapes for the words to flow better.
Fonts like Futura generate less empathy and are harder to read subsequently because it's all made of pure geometric shapes. Any designer with taste will never use this font for long text.
This is a very basic typographic concept. Which imo make sense as a marketing speech for a brand that try to not offend anyone. Pure corporate blandness
This reminds me a little of the ‘Apple TV’ vs. ‘Apple TV’ article running around recently.
If Facebook wants to differentiate their company from their service, a rename makes sense and also wouldn’t hurt their reputation when they create new products.
I think the choice to keep the main company as "Facebook" could be seen as hubris or overconfidence in the lasting trust in the name.
There's no question the company itself has been under attack for privacy, impact on social behavior, its profit and negligence in running ads that undermined integrity of the 2016 US Presidential election, and impact on the open web by making FB logins a universal user auth federation etc.
So creating a new super company name, like Alphabet, which sounds a lot like Altria (phillip morris) to me, that isn't directly tied to the other companies would have been a sensible direction.
Since he's the ultimate decider, it's hard for me to see this choice "Facebook's product: Facebook" as an extension of the personality and ego of the guy at the top.
Which is to say, the company does not believe the brand has been significantly undermined by various controversies. Or that it has but thinks it can recover and is fighting back in a way by keeping the name.
And admittedly, I suspect "Facebook" and its companies have a better idea of the moods of internet users than anyone else.
Kinda off-topic, but I feel like such corporate renamings should be illegal, or at least heavily scrutinized and subject to regulatory approval. Brands are socially useful to help track both positive and negative perceptions. Personal name changes often cannot be performed to "to avoid the consequences of a criminal conviction" , and I don't think the a company should be able to use them to avoid the reputational consequences of their actions.
 for instance: https://law.justia.com/codes/colorado/2017/title-13/change-o...
An interesting point, especially given the notion of their “personhood” in the United States.
Renaming a company also seems like a large hassle that is likely to get more press and attention, not less. I'm not sure this is a legitimate fear.
This reads as the kind of toothless branding exercise that was probably initiated in an out-of-touch-with-reality board-meeting as a thoughtlessly easy attempt at some positive PR spin.
I speak from personal experience.
They could allow sites to white label the fb identity system, and offer their own isolated dir. They could sell anti-evil(spam/hacking)-as-a-service. They could sell localization. They could sell messaging infrastructure and image hosting.
What does this even mean? What kind of human could even write such a sentence?
Source: Have triple bid projects to some of the biggest identity design (branding) firms in NYC before.
The rates are more like $250/hr.
However, if this was done in-house...it was probably a massive boondoggle (see Uber's 2nd to last rebrand led by Kalanick for more info) and giant waste of money. Too many emotions and stakeholders involved. Better to farm it out to an independent 3rd party and control costs with a fixed project-based agreement from the beginning.
What's interesting to me is why anyone would bother with tweaks like that. The logo looks like a generic san-serif block letter logo, and I only noticed those details after they were explicitly pointed out. Even after looking at it several times, the bent lines register as defects to me rather than as an aesthetic design choice.
Could there be some legal basis to those tweaks, like to make the logo trademarkable?
I didn't notice the A being bent outward until it was pointed out either, but i did notice a sense of informality and friendliness in the mark, and that comes from details like the A being bent.
I don't doubt that a typeface as a whole can convey an emotion (through pre-existing associations with the font), but I'm highly skeptical that the tiny tweaks in a novel context on display here can actually do that.
For the record, I didn't pick up on any feelings of "informality or friendliness" when I saw their new logo, and I still don't.
But maybe this stuff is a private design language the graphic designers and typography fans share between themselves (e.g. bent lines == friendly), which they've convinced themselves is generally understood when it's not.
They probably spend millions in design per year and have to keep their designers team working. At that scale nothing is left to chance, they A/B tested their logos for months &. If it makes them looks .1% better and improve signups by the same amount they're golden.
> I only noticed those details when they were explicitly pointed out.
And that's exactly how it should be, good design is imperceptible, bad design sticks out like a sore thumb.
I have trouble imagining that any sort of measurement tying signups to the logo would have a margin of error smaller than that. I assume this is just a made-up number to signify how much they care about slight changes, but I think the general point that they realistically would have trouble getting any amount of useful signal from slight tweaks like that still stands.
Yes it is, I have no idea what they monitored but I'm sure they didn't chose randomly.
I doubt it; I could instantly spot jagged edges of their design, it looks more like a rush job.
One is going for authoritative, while the other is going for nonsensical.
I agree that it's strange to go for friendly-authoritative with the company logo since most conglomerates typically go for innocuous, but it may make more sense in the other app UIs.
Also it's a bit over-spaced and the letters swell outward as though it's puffed up to look extra imposing and dominating the space around itself.
If Deiter Rams were to critique this he'd tell you that it so bad, that it would be categorised under a new hurricane category since it is actually "re-designed" the definition of a disaster.
Bad logos change to often. The 'F' logo stood the test of time and ticks the boxes of Dieter Rams design principles which is respected globally by designers. The last time Apple and IBM changed their logos was more than 40 years ago. If the "U B E R" capslock logo was dumped, so would the "F A C E B O O K" capslock logo.
As far as I understood, the new logo will be used for the company itself, as opposed to its core product - the Facebook platform - which is still going to use the blue/white 'F'.
I think that is a really good idea. Changing Facebook the social network to a different color would be disastrous. Keeping Facebook the company blue would defeat the purpose of separating the two, by branding them far too similarly.
EDIT: Reading some of the other comments, it seems like facebook the company logo is supposed to be blue, when shown together with Facebook the social network, rainbow coloured when together with Instagram, etc.
In that case, I don't think the new branding will help convey that there is a social network and a company called facebook anymore than the old branding does.
Red is better.
Anecodtally - of the 120 icons on my phone's home screen:
- 50 are blue-white logos (eg twitter)
- 14 are red-white or red-black (eg youtube, netflix)
- 12 green-white or green-black (eg, whatsapp, spotify)
- the rest are a mixture of colours.
I agree with this. This is a good gesture of FB warning new and current users signing up/using the service with a screaming all caps logo, given the amount of spying, data mishaps and misinformation reputation they are slowly accruing over the years.
Other than that, this logo looks corporate enough that it should fit nicely with Facebook Workplace's logo.
> Instead of the company owning a single color, we designed the brand to be responsive to its context and environment. This system allows the wordmark to take on the color of our individual brands, creating a clearer relationship between the company and the products we build.
I think they're being disingenuous here (it's Facebook, so I guess that's expected). If their new brand takes on the colors of its environment, it sounds more like camouflage than "creating a clearer relationship."
If they really wanted to create a clearer relationship between their products, they should draw attention to their brand logo, and the highly-recognizable and visually jarring blue Facebook logo would do that far better than what they're proposing here.
Having freedom of colors helps a lot I think.
CNBC reported the other day that 71% of Americans are unaware.
But, am I the only one to think that this is not very good? Shortening the name to its equity ticker? What kind of message does that send to your users? But beyond that, it’s all caps in a font that’s really not original. Is that all?
This looks like it was made by a cheap automatic logo design app...
Perhaps making it easier to sacrifice the product as it gets more radioactive, leaving the company intact.
After all modern ads and cookies on every site, they just keep finding new ways to make my browser experience even bore abhorrent.
Not declaring a brand color and instead saying that it’s ‘empathetic to it’s context’ is reminiscent of A Scanner Darkly.
> Facebook started as a single app.
Is that even true? I thought it started as a website.
Oh come on. Has anyone ever looked at rounded corners in a font and thought "wow, that sure is optimistic!"
I'm all about custom design and thoughtful branding but let's not get ridiculous about it.
Tiny subconscious nuance is one of those reasons. Did you know that their app icons (and phones themselves) don't have perfectly rounded corners?
"Mama mia! It's a Fache Book!"
The comment was just mean and didn't give any value to the readers.
I apologize, my bad.
Is there anything i can do now to delete it?
Could you please read the site guidelines? They ask you not to post like this about astroturfing.
Lots of explanation about why: https://hn.algolia.com/?query=by:dang%20astroturf&sort=byDat....