When Mark Zuckerberg announced last month that Facebook was changing its name, the company released an elegant online animation that showed the logos of all of its apps and products merging to form a shimmering vision of the future: a blue infinity symbol. two-tone next to the word “Meta”.
The new symbol and name change were a nod to Mr. Zuckerberg’s plans to refocus the Silicon Valley giant on what he sees as the unification of disparate digital worlds in the so-called metaverse, l immersive and interconnected online space largely enabled by augmented and virtual reality. . “The metaverse is the next frontier for connecting people,” he said in an announcement.
For design experts, the change from a scandal-ridden company was the latest example of efforts by American companies to create brands that are less unique and ultimately less offensive. It was also a reflection of the growing challenge for corporate identities to exist in many different digital sizes and settings at once, from VR headsets to smartwatches – a challenge that is magnified for Meta as it tries to ‘establish an identity for something that doesn’t. does not yet exist.
“It ticks a lot of boxes,” said Michael Evamy, author of “Logo,” an anthology of corporate brands and logos. “It’s very simple. It’s very visible at all scales. It’s blue.” (Blue, he noted, is historically a color associated with safety and reliability. The infinity symbol, devoid of jagged corners and edges, can be considered non-threatening.)
“But in a way, it looks exactly what you would expect,” Mr. Evamy added. “A little disappointing and risk averse.”
Users and lawmakers around the world are increasingly scrutinizing the broad reach of Facebook, whose products, including Instagram and WhatsApp, are used by more than 3.6 billion people each month. Even though Facebook has grown into one of the most valued companies in the world, it has spent the last few years going from one embarrassing scandal to another. More recently, a former employee turned whistleblower released a vast mine of internal documents, claiming that Mr. Zuckerberg and Facebook routinely put profit ahead of people’s well-being.
Mr Zuckerberg said last month that the name change reflected the evolution of Facebook. “Right now our brand is so closely tied to a product that it cannot represent everything we do today, let alone in the future,” he said.
Facebook has long been associated with its tiny “f” logo – a simple brand that has become globally recognizable as Facebook has grown. The company’s other apps also have bold and colorful logos, which remain as part of the rebranding.
Because Mr. Zuckerberg’s future vision is based on virtual reality, the company wanted a new, more dynamic and immersive logo. In March, the company began developing a logo focusing “solely on exploring concepts with movement, dimensionality, and perspective,” Zach Stubenvoll, Sam Halle and Marian Chiao, members of its in-house design team, said in an email.
When using a VR headset, people often use a controller to draw the boundaries of their virtual experience. The designers at Meta said the new logo’s color loop that ends up transforming into an infinity symbol was inspired by these dividing lines.
The design community’s response to Facebook’s change has been largely muted.
“This symbol doesn’t get you excited about the Metaverse,” Mr. Evamy said. “The opportunity they missed is to produce something truly exciting and transformative in their own way.”
Many other brands have very similar infinite symbol logos, including those for web development software sold by Microsoft, a Top Flite golf ball model, a wealth management company, and the rock band Hoobastank. A service owned by Meta called Boomerang also uses an infinity symbol.
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“An infinite loop isn’t exactly unique,” said Jessica Walsh, founder and creative director of design studio & Walsh. “However, unlike many brands, they are in a privileged position where they do not need to rely on the distinction of their logo for it to be memorable.”
Paula Scher, a partner at Pentagram, a design consultancy whose clients include Bloomberg, Citibank and Tiffany, said she has seen a growing push for corporate brand logos to have movement and be multidimensional. Several years ago, for example, Google added animation to its logo. But Ms Scher pointed out that making a logo more flexible could make it less recognizable.
Rodrigo Corral, a book cover designer who has also worked with rapper Jay-Z and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, often incorporates animation into his design work for his clients. “But the logo must be autonomous,” he warned. “It has to function without movement first.”
In recent years, brands have had to adapt their logos and identities to a wider range of digital platforms. As websites once only viewed on desktops gave way to smartphone apps, logos had to work in increasingly smaller contexts – tiny squares and circles in social media feeds or miniature dots on smart watches. Virtual reality offers another platform that brands can adapt to, a platform that is inherently defined by movement and 3D.
Mr. Evamy noted that the new Meta logo was a break from a time when corporate branding was much more evocative. “The big companies were producing symbols that were very brave, exciting, striking, and stopping you in your tracks,” he said, pointing to IBM’s iconic stripes or the arrow hidden inside the FedEx name.
But while a company like FedEx has traditionally had to worry about branding on the side of a delivery truck and in TV commercials, Meta mostly lives in the digital world on various platforms.
It is relatively unexplored territory. There is little precedent for corporate logos that can exist in 3D in a virtual space where they can be interacted with and manipulated by a user.
“Our Meta design system is designed to grow and evolve with the business and as the metaverse is created,” the Meta design team said in the email. “We needed to perpetuate the symbol. “