Facebook just unveiled their new company logo on November 4th. No teasing, no big unveiling of the rebranding, just a relatively discrete update showing-off an underwhelming design of the brand’s iconic wordmark and… Well, nothing else.
A low radar update
Contrary to what many brands have been doing recently, and what facebook itself has done in the last F8 conference when it updated the look of their app, the low-radar update is a bit of a surprise given that the logo hasn’t changed much since 2005 and hasn’t changed at all since the 2015 facelift.
I guess we are used to seeing rebranding projects take much more publicity because they are, indeed, important. We’ve seen more excitement when Microsoft merely released the new icons of their Office suite. Heck, smaller brands like Slack and Mozilla generated a lot more news in their debut. Even Zara got more attention and they only changed the kerning on theirs.
So isn’t this rebranding important and newsworthy at all? Spoiler alert, it is.
Facebook went uppercase
If you’re not so much into silicon valley tech companies then this might not be a big deal for you. But here’s a bunch of tech company logos. Guess what they all have in common: Lowercase letters.
Yes, there are silicon valley companies with full uppercase letters. Netflix, Oracle, Tesla, Cisco (maybe?). Uber also used to have an all-caps logo before they ditched it, so did Evernote. But at least we can say that Facebook is the first of the GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft) to do it, and it’s a curious decision, to say the least.
Lowercase letters are a pilar of silicon valley. There has been much debate around this fact and the consensus seems to be going behind the idea that lowercase letters are friendlier and less Shouty. But I guess nobody put it better than Erlich Bachman from the popular HBO sitcom Silicon Valley who said in a comment about this exact subject:
“ Are you f*ing serious? Lowercase letters? Twitter, lowercase “t”. Google, lowercase “g”. Facebook, lowercase “f”. Every f*ing company in the Valley has lowercase letters. Why? Because it’s safe.”
I never thought I would quote Erlich, but he’s right (he’s wrong about Google’s G though). Is Facebook Taking the road less traveled here for a reason? Of course, they are. The question is why and the answer has got to be more than just for the sake of novelty.
The goal behind the rebranding
What we know for now is that one of the goals behind this rebrand is to draw a difference between the company and the app as say their chief marketing officer Antonio Lucio:
We needed the wordmark to establish distinction from the Facebook app and allow for a clearer connection to the full family of technologies. The new brand system uses custom typography, rounded corners, open tracking, and capitalization to create a visual distinction between the company and the app.
In that regard, I personally think that it’s a job well done and it’s actually a good idea. As Opposed to Google, Facebook doesn’t have a parent company like Alphabet, so it’s nice to see them trying to draw the distinction. I feel though as if this move is going to bring facebook as a company, not as an app, more to the average consumer’s attention.
We don’t know anything other than that for now, but it would seem to me that this has to have a connection with Facebook’s legal troubles. Maybe the company is trying to remind everyone that the apps that we all love and use are all coming from the same company. Maybe they’re trying to buy some slack there (no pun intended)? Nobody knows. It’s just speculation at this point
A very unoriginal rebranding
I guess the trend of going with wordmarks and dumb the symbols cannot be hidden anymore. This is reminiscent of Uber’s argument when they ditched their Uppercase wordmark + symbol combo in favor of a mere lowercase wordmark. They’re the idea behind that was:
“ Invest in a wordmark, not a symbol”_ Uber Design
The only reasoning they gave was “No need for a symbol”. I guess that’s also a trend that seems to be in action. We’ve also seen it from Godaddy and you could even say Instagram. You can be pretty sure that we’ll be seeing a lot of companies going with this approach in the near future.
From a typography standpoint, I must say I can’t see anything original, which is a good thing for a company of facebook’s size.
Facebook’s in house team developed a “custom” type for this wordmark. It does truly have some distinctive features such as the curved diagonal strokes of the A and K, the extended bowls of the B and the slight symmetry of the arm and leg of the K. I’m sure typography experts will have more to say about it, but I kind of like it. It’s appropriately discrete.
Can you see the book?
I might be overthinking this but I could swear I see a book in the logo. The Arms of the K are very reminiscent of a book’s pages and especially the symmetry between FACE and BOOK with the slightly tighter kerning of the E and B is making me imagine things.
So will Facebook’s new logo end all their struggles? Don’t be silly, of course not. I guess we all rather see them take serious steps towards becoming the “privacy centered company” that Zuckerburg promised us at his congressional hearing session
Published on Muzli