Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Designing the Facebook Company Brand (facebook.design)
291 points by minimaxir 13 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 216 comments





Although a post about updated branding may seem benign, this is, I believe, a response to critics who believe the company should be broken up.

For example:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/03/opinion/facebook-antitrus...

https://www.wired.com/story/tim-wu-explains-why-facebook-bro...

https://www.cnet.com/news/can-facebook-be-broken-up-what-you...

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.


Another likely explanation: Instagram now represents a very significant amount of the company's revenue and most of its future value. The new logo is designed to capture that, rather than reinforcing the association with its legacy business.

Agreed. This is clearly a pivot to a younger user base.

The facebook brand has such negative feelings associated with it but the new logo is really refreshing.

The thing is, the differentiation that they tried to establish with the new branding is itself confusing. Using the same word just with different capitalization to specify between the company and the app is not going to help in any significant way since the two different logos can only be expressed differently in certain contexts. Which makes you wonder just how intentional that detail is.

I agree. The alphabet-google structure was much more convincing (Though they maintained the GOOG and GOOGL stock ticker symbol) I think at this point, they should be distancing themselves from the "facebook" brand since its popularity is in steep decline, and instead should have re-branded their larger business and software development infrastructure under a new name.

For some reason Instagram Social strikes me as more fun than Facebook.

The traditional method of differentiating the parent company from its eponymous application would be to rebrand the company as "Facebook Group". For example: "Expedia Group", "Match Group", "Zillow Group".

I could see Facebook taking the approach Google did with Alphabet, but one can only guess what that would look like.

That's a real reach. People are talking about breaking up Google also, and Google already calls all its stuff Google, and that's no defense.

"People know we are one company" isn't a defense against monopoly power.


It's not a defense, but the fact that many incorrectly think of them as separate entities can be an aggravating factor.

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.


But antitrust remedies are all about single companies, aren't they?

I'm not sure how that is relevant to what I said. Can you explain?

Maybe I'm not understanding what you're defining as the "aggravating factor," but I'm interpreting it to mean that FB, IG, WA are seen as separate entities while Google properties like Docs, Keep, Calendar, etc. are seen as products under a Google umbrella.

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.


Yeah I was accepting the previous poster's contention that presenting the company to the public as multiple independent entities was considered a bad thing. If not, ok. But if it is, my main contention was that it was one factor of many, and the fact that Google wasn't doing it (if they aren't....I mean YouTube is treated as its own thing by many people), doesn't mean anything.

Anyway thanks for explaining.


Why is the government itching to break up tech companies? I feel like it's a bad idea for them to get involved at all.

Because democratic societies generally dislike so much power concentrated in the hands of undemocratic institutions.

Anti-trust laws are there for economic reasons, ie, monopolies preventing competition leaving society worse-off as a whole than can be gained from efficiencies of a single organization. It also typically requires proof of anti-competitive behaviour, beyond just being the biggest in the market.

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.


Your last sentence does not seem right to me, and it also seems to be phrased in a disingenuous way. "punishing companies for not serving some greater democratic service" is a very weird way to describe a legitimate worry about consolidation of private power (which, by the way, has a very long history).

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 [1].

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 [2].

Matt Stoller has done some good writing on monopoly, so has Binyamin Appelbaum. Both of them have books worth reading.

[1]: 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...)

[2]: https://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?art...


Hey, Thomas Jefferson also said, "The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground."

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.


Government is put in opposition to liberty not because it's called government, but because it holds a lot of power, and any concentration of power limits liberty, whether it's in the hands of government or corporations. At least the government is accountable (in principle) to the electorate and not to a board of directors.

The founding fathers were also very opposed to a two party system.

You h types

Yours is a very US-centric viewpoint.

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.


>The US sees anti-trust as necessary when consumers are negatively impacted. The EU sees anti-trust as necessary when producers are negatively impacted.

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".


The EU, roughly, sees producers as a vehicle that exists to create jobs, and thus create prosperity for their employees.

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.


Even in America, often producers wield more political power than consumers. Farm policies are often dictated by the interests of farmers more than the interests of people who eat food. Tariffs have traditionally been a mechanism to protect domestic producers at the expense of domestic consumers. Immigration provides economic benefits but some of these come at the expense of individual workers who face more competition. Even defense policy is affected: decisions are largely driven by the goal of creating or protecting jobs in particular states and districts rather than by the actual needs of the military.

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.


> It also typically requires proof of anti-competitive behaviour, beyond just being the biggest in the market.

That wasn't always true. The US was once fond of trust- busting.


We've never had communications platforms so centralized, nor had comms companies with so much editorial control over peoples' exposure to information.

The United States Postal Service? Although it's illegal for them to open mail without a specific warrant.

The USPS is my go-to example of why “Net Neutrality” is a requirement for communication.

The USPS mail service is frankly bullshit. It exists to spam the hell out of you.

it actually exists to guarantee service of court documents and government records. Without it the courts and government couldn't function properly. it's so vital that the USPS has their own police force that punishes mail crime. Once I got a piece of mail about a postal worker who stole a $20 gift card in route to me. She got sentenced to several years in jail. I'd sooner screw with the IRS than the postal service.

How narrow-sighted can you be?! The USPS is the latest incarnation in a lineage of postal services that go back centuries and that for many generations served as a neutral, transparent, reliable, and capillary means of allowing epistolary contact between individuals.

Note: I’m not American, I’m not in the USA, but this applies to most postal services worldwide.


USPS disallows 3rd party Mail aggregation and sorting / scanning services.

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.


AT&T?

>editorial control

And as mentioned elsewhere, it was broken up, and then allowed to recongeal.


Which was broken up in 1984 via antitrust regulation?

Responding to this specifically:

>We've never had communications platforms so centralized


because politicians dislike it and scare their constituents and others into the same mode of thought. why can't we apply the same mindset to government because you have to be kidding yourself if you believe it is a democratic institution.

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


[flagged]


Just because someone disagrees with you while bringing up a pretty compelling point, they are definitely a shill.

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."[0]

0. https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


For you then, I believe the above comment to be not only uncompelling but also disingenuous

I mean, I personally agree with said comment. Would love to hear your perspective beyond "this comment is wrong".

This isn't a matter of right or wrong. Moreover that's not what I've expressed. The comment hasn't garnered any attention from anyone discussing this topic seriously and I should follow suit BR

You don't believe it's not at a possibility that politicians dislike losing control over their message?

I believe ginormous agglomerates of money and power backed by predatory (and probably with criminal intent) capital investors, with no other ethics than make money in any possible way are the root of all evil, politicians are just elected representatives of the people and live only a few decades.

Seeing something similar happening in China (CEOs of companies that get large are stepping down and being replaced by party members), I wonder if the US model is similarly threatened by large companies.

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.


"If you think about it, corruption is legal in the US through lobbies"

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...


Pretty much every major republican thinker (and by republican I mean in the tradition of republicanism, not the political party) has discussed the problem that these concentrations of wealth/power have for stable societies.

Most historical republics were defined and explicitly ruled by concentrations of wealth and power--Rome, Venice, Florence, Genoa, the Hanseatic League.

Because many voters think that they would be better off if the government enforced antitrust law more strongly in this area.

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.


The reason why the EU “slapped” Microsoft is instructive though: in a nutshell, the argument was as follows: it is so big that it can crowd out other smaller competitors because it can offer products for almost free (because their marginal cost is basically zero) whereas starting up and/or sustaining a small competitor (perhaps with a subset of functionality, for a lower TCO) is more expensive. Since producers are (as remarked elsewhere) seen as “vehicles for job creation”, this is a net negative.

Yeah and it is also a net negative for consumers if the big company offering things for almost free stops innovating once their competition goes away.

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.


I wish there was a corporate progressive tax, such that if you're business profit is between $0-$1M you pay no tax, and once your income gets into the tens of billions (in profit), the effective tax rate is over 50%. The big companies would just break themselves up to take advantage of the taxes.

Tech companies in particular have very concentrated employee bases - there is a lot of incentive to grandstand against them if your constituency doesn't get many benefits, especially if that constituency comes from places that don't have much in the way of technical literacy.

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.


Saying that the reason FB is being targeted for anti-trust is that they are simply too successful feels like a vast oversimplification of the situation.

True, but I hear these conversations brought up against every tech company, regardless of what they are doing or why. Amputation may be a valid prescription for a patient, but if amputation is always the prescription, I may assume we are diagnosing wrongly.

No you don't. No one is pushing to break up Basecamp, or LinkedIn, or even companies that have actual documented histories of anticompetitive practices, like Oracle. I haven't even heard much chatter about breaking up Apple, altho that might ramp up as they move farther away from hardware into services and other areas. The conversation centers around FB, Google, and Amazon, for reasons that are unique to each of them.

Elizabeth Warren has officially listed Apple as a company to break up.

Are you saying that breaking up the company is always the action from an antitrust case? That's entirely wrong. See for instance the antitrust actions against IBM leading to the 1936 consent decree and the 1956 consent decree, which changed IBM's behavior but didn't break up the company.

Breaking up trusts definitely helped - its the concentration of wealth and non-existent trust enforcement why there's so much consolidation and market concentration in a handful of firms.

Breaking up Microsoft didn't necessarily help any competitors, but it definitely made their products worse. Breaking up Bell turned one giant monopoly (with a well funded research division that drove innovation) into a bunch of regional monopolies that didn't necessarily drive better consumer outcomes.

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.


Breaking up Microsoft absolutely helped their competitors, but not in the PC software market. There was a time when Windows tightly integrated Internet Explorer throughout the operating system to the point that using a different browser was a hassle (and would never be done by their general audience). Microsoft subverted and contorted as many industry standards as they felt like it as they attempted to turn the internet into their own walled garden right from the start. The antitrust rulings that were made undid the clamped down version of the internet that Microsoft was trying to build. I highly doubt consumers would have somehow been better off the last two decades if this ruling wasn't made.

the nature of capitalist competition means that in the long-term markets will consolidate.

as the power of the big tech companies approach the power of the government, governments are naturally going to seek to limit their power.

Can you elaborate how Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/WhatsApp/Google/Microsoft/Apple are approaching power levels of the government?

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.


how Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/WhatsApp/Google/Microsoft/Apple are approaching power levels of the government?

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.


Not to mention Facebook's libra. The government doesn't look too kindly on you subverting its main method of influence

Seems like the common theme is they own too much data on us and it’s not clear that any number of apps might just be a subsidiary of a larger org.

It's because FB has enormous power in influencing who becomes part of the government.

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.

edit: Spelling


If they are undermining the fundamental purpose of government, then why wouldn’t the government want to do something about it?

It isn’t. Some political candidates are.

Why is that? Do you have an alternative?

It's a bad idea for them NOT to get involved.

Because big tech companies are now at the point where they can pick the winners in democratic elections, if they choose to do so.

Really? Doesn't seem like it worked out well for them during the last elections, given that people like Dustin Moskowitz and Larry Page were directly supporting and assisting the DNC campaign (with others assisting the campaign less directly).

I'm not claiming they've deliberately swung elections yet. But do you doubt Facebook or Google could easily do it? They self-evidently have the data needed to identify swing voters in key districts and the reach to control a large part of the media those people are exposed to.

If they haven't done it (yet), it's only because they've decided not to (so far).


Google[1] and Facebook[2] have sponsored the Republican party. Both have accepted ad contracts from Republican candidates.

[1] https://www.politico.com/story/2016/04/google-gop-convention... [2] https://fortune.com/2016/05/07/facebook-confirms-it-will-spo...


They accepted ad contracts from both sides, while the leadership directly supported DNC. The pendulum was definitely on the DNC side when it came to support from tech companies.

Just because they were giving some support to the Republican party, doesn't disprove my assertion at all.


What is your assertion?

My assertion is that "tech companies can choose the winners of the election" is an extremely over-exaggerated statement that holds no basis in reality. Some of the most powerful people in tech industry openly sided with and assisted DNC, and yet they lost the election. Yes, they sold ads to both sides, but the level of support (direct and indirect) that DNC received from big tech was incomparable to that of the Republican party.

I don't think anyone implied that Facebook et al. tried in earnest to sway the election. Facebook execs endorsed candidates and donated money to campaigns or PACs but that's the routine for any company that has a stake in politics. If Facebook wanted to, they could invisibly change the content recommendation algorithm on facebook dot com to only show negative news about the wrong candidate (or 90% negative) and only show positive news about the right candidate. They could have also made up excuses to ban right or left wing figures from facebook dot com. Stuff like that is possible to accomplish and get away with, but Zuckerberg was merciful to us this time.

Facebook has no imagination. That's the consistent message.

I know it is easy to be cynical on these types of "announcements", but I am having a really, really hard time understanding how curved strokes (or any branding decision) can result in empathy or "open space for peoples stories".

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.


You don't understand it because, like myself and most people on this site, you're probably a hyper-rational engineering type. We gravitated towards working in this field for a reason.

The rest of the world has very strong negative reactions when confronted with a product branded like this: https://www.vim.org

...and they have very positive reactions to a product branded like this: https://slack.com

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.


like myself and most people on this site, you're probably a hyper-rational engineering type.

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:

https://github.com/powerline/powerline


I think you are right! The whole identity of thinking of yourself as "engineering type" is likely fulfilling some emotional need to belong to a group you perceive as superior.

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.


And if you aspire to be in that tribe, this tool is for you

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.


That's a big assumption. I'm a designer, not too much of the distanced & "cold rational" guy, and to me a lot of that brand reasoning is cringy at best.

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.


It isn't ridiculous at all. Human feelings are very easily influenced by sights and sounds and other external stimuli. Every company out there is fine tuning their brand, advertising, logo, colors etc. to trigger specific emotional responses from you.

s/influenced/manipulated

The difference is important. Influencing does not necessarily imply malice and exploitation. Manipulation does.


I feel the irony is that a lot of the text arrangements in the examples do not have enough contrast to be universally accessible. So, I feel like even the designers are missing the point on empathy.

It's supposed to evoke these things, along with the the rest of the company's branding and messaging. Whether it does (or even can) is a different question but the idea behind this wooly-sounding stuff is not that the designs inherently have or create things like 'empathy'. It's a way to guide the design process and evaluate the designs. If a designer came up with an FB logo that uses the Doom font, the other people working on branding can look at it and ask 'Does this evoke empathy?'

> I know it is easy to be cynical on these types of "announcements", but I am having a really, really hard time understanding how curved strokes (or any branding decision) can result in empathy or "open space for peoples stories".

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).


What's sad is that either (a) the brouhaha is a either a lie ot justify an overpaid designer's pay, or (b) it's not a lie, and Facebook is openly bragging about covertly manipulating its users via branding.

This is how all branding works. It is, from what I can tell, the very point of branding. Certainly not limited to Facebook alone.

It's fine to critique the implementation of a brand, but it doesn't change the fact that branding has real tangible value. If they don't use a curvy wordmark, it would have to be some other arbitrary mark.

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.


I've passed by typographic classes during my art major.

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 is the answer the engineers are looking for, I think; thank you.

As a former brand designer, it's either simple word associations or post-hoc rationalisation.

Would’ve been better, IMHO; to pull an Alphabet and rename the company.

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 was thinking similarly. Not that it needed to rename it but that it was an obvious option available.

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.


> 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.

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" [1], and I don't think the a company should be able to use them to avoid the reputational consequences of their actions.

[1] for instance: https://law.justia.com/codes/colorado/2017/title-13/change-o...


> I don't think the a company should be able to use them to avoid the reputational consequences of their actions.

An interesting point, especially given the notion of their “personhood” in the United States.


People can change their names to avoid reputational consequences, and corporations are currently considered as such.

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.


I think if you ask 100 people what Altria is vs Philip Morris, most know and have negative associations w the latter.

You'd have thought Facebook would have seized the opportunity to rename the company, being as Facebook is an awful name for anything.

In case anyone else is wondering what Apple TV article the parent is referencing-

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21438152


Exactly.

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.


Facebook should split their engineering services into its own layer, similar to AWS. They can then sell social media services to fb, ig, wa, and any competitor willing to pay.

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.


This is a far cry from a rebranding. Restructuring into a parent/child company or redesigning a logo don't affect the day-to-day operations of Facebook employees. Shifting into a white label company does, and it's a huge risk for a company not built for it. Facebook is good at full-stack, and will take the approach that lets them work to that advantage.

They should call the new umbrella corp "The" so we get to say "The Facebook" again

> The brand comes to life in the context of people, cultures, communities and relationships.

What does this even mean? What kind of human could even write such a sentence?



Any context? Is it a real document or a parody?

This is real. My personal theory has always been that they decided to capitalize on the Obama For America campaign branding, typography, etc — and then made this doc as a kind of “parallel reconstruction” of how they got there.

Ugh, I had forgotten about that doc. Now my brain hurts.

You aren't helping... now I need to know WTF two things are!

That's crazy.


Dr Graeber, we have a “bullshit jobs” winner.

I'm as tired of marketing jargon as the next person, but what isn't clear about this? It's a simple statement, encouraging you to think of the brand and its relationship to people and culture, and all the different groups who use Facebook products.

Most marketing material like this makes my head start spinning after only a minute or so. I can only imagine what extended periods of _thinking_ in marketing/PR-speak can do to someone

The kind getting $600/hour to write sentences like that

No branding agency bills at $600/hr.

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.


This is the reason I could not cut it as just a designer. The amount of bullshit required to survive in the design industry disturbed me morally.

Basically that the brand should represent what Facebook is about. But in shiny, marketing oriented, words. I work as a consultant in Marketing and I still have a problem respecting creative people and their explanations. For me it's simple BS. But the reality is that they truly believe in it. We simply expect more science and less imagination from them.

The synergetic, horizontally-scalable kind. /s

It's all fluff mixed with virtue signalling.

As usual.


To think about it someone paid American college money to write meaningless stuff like this.

The "A" and the "K" are fascinating. Almost imperceptibly bent, they round and soften what would otherwise be quite an authoritative logo. The "B" also has a belly. The whole thing is definitely meant to look a little friendly and approachable.

> The "A" and the "K" are fascinating. Almost imperceptibly bent...The "B" also has a belly.

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?


Just because you don't think to yourself "oh, the A is bent and the B has a belly" doesn't mean you don't percieve it. The goal isn't to make you appreciate the typography, it's to make you think about the company in a certain way.

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 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.


It’s a nudge that people will react differently to. Someone who is close to making a decision about a company may because of slight changes in the communication they’ve received. Design elements are part of that communication.

> What's interesting to me is why anyone would bother with tweaks like that.

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.


> If it makes them looks .1% better and improve signups by the same amount they're golden

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.


> I assume this is just a made-up number to signify how much they care about slight changes

Yes it is, I have no idea what they monitored but I'm sure they didn't chose randomly.


> they A/B tested their logos for months

I doubt it; I could instantly spot jagged edges of their design, it looks more like a rush job.


A/B tests imply that people have different opinions.

FWIW I noticed the bend immediately as something being slightly “off” about the lettering.

And yet, it doesn't. Try setting the word in plain Helvetica - it will have a much different look & expression

Oddly seems to have been influenced by the Russian alphabet.

I'm not the only one that noticed that!

tin foil hat intensifies

Check out the difference between the new Facebook company and app logos: https://facebook.design/companybrand

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.


All I'm seeing is a monolithic in-your-face all-caps block font that screams BIG BROTHER.

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.


Not just that, it's pulsing in a way that connotes "I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that".

The "pulsing" is just a transition between the facebook, instagram, and whatsapp versions of the logo. It's normally a single one of those colors (or gradients, in the case of instagram)

This is probably a better link: https://facebook.design/companybrand

If you have the trailing slash on there, it takes you to the root domain. https://facebook.design/companybrand should work


Thanks for including the previous link in this comment, they're both good. Seeing it in the context of their apps is definitely interesting

much better article!

The logo is pretty bland (reminds me of Mark Zuckerburg, actually); but it's definitely a step in the right direction to label all products under the "Facebook" brand. Most people don't even know that Whatsapp and Instagram are all owned by Facebook.

I've seen logos that were worse than natural disasters, but if Paul Rand were to critique this "redesign", he would tell you that it screams treason in the design world.

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.


> 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.

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'.


Except that they have negative brand value. Usually when I tell people Whatsapp or IG are owned by FB they start thinking about how to migrate off of those apps.

I’m all for more explicit disclosure of Facebook’s involvement in Instagram and WhatsApp, but aesthetically…I’m not sure I like it. What was wrong with the original logo and the “Facebook blue”?

That is kept for the Facebook app.

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.


Blue is generally poor choice for logos, it is hard on the eyes.

Red is better.


Not to appeal to popularity, but if it's so bad, why do so many companies use it?

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 can’t stand blue logos. Not sure about red, but anything else is better. Makes it feel ancient to me (IBM, Microsoft in the 90’s...)

Not if you're colorblind

I’m not sure I’d agree.

> ...People should know which companies make the products they use.

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.


They aren't acting on their own accord. This is fueled by a new law that companies must clearly disclose what subsidiaries they own.

I'm curious also, what law are you referring to?

What law is that, and how does it dictate branding, and how does a curved K disclose anything?

No doubt, this is truly great design work, kudos to that team! However, I can't help but feel my massive distrust for the company overshadow this work, and give me a very un-easy feeling about the true intentions of this entire thing. For me, the "transparency" I want to hear about does not come from a font, but from open sharing of advertising!

I'm not sure how well this will help differentiate the corporate entity with the Facebook service from a public perspective. Might have been more effective to rename the corporate entity like Alphabet did. Besides that, kind of boring and looks like it was thrown together in 5 minutes, lol.

The multi-coloured gradient example on the Instagram app seems a bit odd to me. Are they really going to change the colours of the company brand depending on the context of the product/brand it's being used with?

Yes: https://facebook.design/companybrand

> 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.


> 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.


Isn't this against most brand consistency standards? I've seen so many branding guidelines be very strict about changing colors/backgrounds.

A side effect of that strictness is designers trying very hard to skip the logo or move it in weird places when it doesn’t fit what they’re doing (for instance a very warm, but light/pastel design. Marketing people often don’t prepare for these cases)

Having freedom of colors helps a lot I think.


I've believed for some time that part of instagram's continued success comes from the average consumer being completely unaware that it is associated with facebook in any way. This change risks facebook's controversies becoming instagram's when consumers realize they could boycott both/either.

is there even a statistic on the number of people boycotting facebook? id imagine it to be infinitesimally small in the grand scheme of things. partially because there isnt a single alt-fb they are all gathered in.

part of instagram's continued success comes from the average consumer being completely unaware that it is associated with facebook in any way

CNBC reported the other day that 71% of Americans are unaware.


Their font choice reminds me of the Fyre Media logo.

Those pictures of happy people remind me of the E Corp commercial from Mr. Robot[1].

[1] https://youtu.be/FZuOFdHKtF8?t=19


They added just enough of a curve to the 'A' and 'K' to irritate me, and not enough for it to be actively noticeable.

https://i.imgur.com/CmWWk2B.png


I am not a design person and I usually think that design people know what they’re doing. My opinion about design is usually as good as that of a 5-year-old looking at a Picasso.

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...


In my experience, the more time the word "clarity" is used, the less there is.

Great job! Hats off to them, I was only half expecting a see a sentence like "This truly captures the 'essence of Facebook', which we'll refer to as 'Mark' throughout the remainder on this document"

This really reminds me of "Tables" from the Silicon Valley TV show. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWOGbu5BcT0

It’s clearly positioning for a post-Facebook future, separating Facebook the product from Facebook the company.

Perhaps making it easier to sacrifice the product as it gets more radioactive, leaving the company intact.


They recently added splash screens to Instagram and WhatsApp apps which I presume was a step towards smoothly introducing the Facebook company logo to their app brandings with updates soon.

Why does following this link delete my history ?!?

After all modern ads and cookies on every site, they just keep finding new ways to make my browser experience even bore abhorrent.


friendly, empathetic, and approachable...in all caps?

Not declaring a brand color and instead saying that it’s ‘empathetic to it’s context’ is reminiscent of A Scanner Darkly.


I don't have anything insightful to add, but I dislike the wordmark aesthetically. The concept of empathy = dynamic style is interesting to me though.

Instagram and WhatsApp are the bought step kids of facebook and by all indications(ok just hearsay) are more relevant(read popular) than the original product i.e. the facebook. A sound investment but I can imagine how it feels for Zuckerberg. While recently trying to advertise on Instagram it became evident how desperately facebook wants to put itself in front of these products and brands. I kind of understand at a personal level but at the business level it doesn't make so much sense. I almost feel sorry for Zuckerberg. Actually I don't ;-)

I’ve always associated all caps with shouting. Not sure how an all caps logo with a few softening tweaks sends a message of empathy.

when big companies rebrand themselves it’s never about how their logo looks like. It’s a tiny piece of the iceberg’s tip. FB is trying to change its story and credibility with its users, advertisers and legislators. Im not very confident they’ll pull it off, but if they do, it’ll be a historic turnaround of events.

The implication that Calibra belongs in the same league as the Facebook app or Instagram is...premature.

First sentence:

> Facebook started as a single app.

Is that even true? I thought it started as a website.


> and the subtle softening of corners and diagonals adds a sense of optimism. [0]

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.

[0] https://facebook.design/companybrand


Yeah, it's flowery-design talk but I'd argue these nuances go a long way subconsciously.

I’m unsure if you’re serious, but I’d be interested to hear an argument for the subconscious nuances going a long way.

I personally think Apple's designs are still considerably better than their competitors.

Tiny subconscious nuance is one of those reasons. Did you know that their app icons (and phones themselves) don't have perfectly rounded corners?

https://hackernoon.com/apples-icons-have-that-shape-for-a-ve...


Not consciously, no. Subconsciously? Almost certainly.

    [citation needed]

_The Surface of Meaning_ by Robert Bringhurst is a good starting point

They should have also renamed the parent company to Face, Inc.

Upon clicking the link, Firefox popped a notification saying that they had blocked a 'social-media tracker' from running on the site. New typeface, same tricks.

Well this is a mistake, not from a design perpective but from a brand one.

It’s pretty ugly.

itailan accent

"Mama mia! It's a Fache Book!"


The Gap is back.

[deleted]


Could you please not unsubstantive comments here?

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


You're right.

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?


Ok, we've deleted it for you.

Then don't come around if he ever sneezes.

[flagged]


I don't believe so. Most of the votes have been from long-established users.

Could you please read the site guidelines? They ask you not to post like this about astroturfing.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html.

Lots of explanation about why: https://hn.algolia.com/?query=by:dang%20astroturf&sort=byDat....


This is an impressive response. Thank you.

Design in 2019: CAPSLOCK

I'm all for this kind of FB branding on all of their apps. Will be easy to know what not to use. Google should do the same.

This change was definitely needed after all of those fiascos to rehabilitate their image. Google also did the same with the Alphabet company restructuring before. Even though I dislike the practices they have with people's data, the Facebook as a company has undeniably contributed a lot in other fields such as deep learning.



Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: