On the Internet, using uppercase letters is shorthand for shouting. And Facebook has something to say with its redesign. The company’s new corporate logo is its name in all uppercase letters. The redesign is Facebook’s most visible attempt to distinguish the social media app and website from its eponymous corporation, which also owns Instagram, WhatsApp and other entities. The new logo is meant to convey “optimism” while the re-branding effort is focused on “clarity,” “empathy” and “creating space,” according to a company Web page. The Facebook app will keep its current logo.
US presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who has been a vocal critic of Facebook’s business practices, was critical of the move. “Facebook can rebrand all they want but they can’t hide the fact that they are too big and powerful. It’s time to #BreakUpBIGTECH,” she tweeted.
Some marketing experts say the re-branding effort is similar to what Google did with its parent company Alphabet, changing its marketing as the company’s product offerings become increasingly diverse. Others have speculated that the campaign – which also includes adding “from Facebook” on all of its apps and launching a new website in the coming weeks – is its latest effort to convince users that it has moved past its spotty track record on data privacy, security and other issues.
The most notorious of those scandals is the one surrounding Cambridge Analytica, the political consultancy with ties to the Trump campaign that improperly accessed the data of tens of millions of Facebook users before the 2016 presidential election. More recently, Facebook has been criticized by 2020 presidential candidates and others for allowing politicians to lie in advertisements.
The company says the move is focused solely on clarifying its operations to the public. “Branding changes are [a] normal course of business and marketing strategy. For us, this brand change is a way to communicate a simpler and clearer company narrative to people and businesses that use our services,” said Facebook spokeswoman Lisa Stratton in an email.
Lisa Marie Nelson, a San Francisco-based marketing and branding professional, says the company’s re-branding is likely about “restarting the conversation about the brand.”
“It could be an opportunity to draw attention away from things,” said Nelson. But it could also be a way to signal that they are coming out with new products that might not fall under the old logo. “It’s a way to say, ‘We actually have another horse in the race, and it’s over here.’ “
Facebook’s new logo’s color is only occasionally blue. It changes depending on its surrounding context and sometimes includes a gradient or solid fill. The new font is minimalist and contains relatively large spaces between the letters.
Some Twitter users were underwhelmed. “Someone spent millions on that,” tweeted Edward Hardy of the “Hardy Report” political podcast.
Logo lettering can make a difference. Uppercase letters have been used by banks and other types of financial institutions to communicate a sense of security, says San Francisco-based typography expert Carolina de Bartolo.
“The typical ‘feeling quality’ that all lowercase has is sort of friendly and small,” said de Bartolo. “The ‘feeling quality’ of something all caps is something more formal, upstanding and a little more strong.”
Though Facebook says its new design is aimed at clarity, de Bartolo says all uppercase letters are often less legible than the standard uppercase-lowercase mix. That’s because most readers scan word shapes instead of looking at each individual letter, she said.
She says she has recently seen some tech companies change their logos from the lowercase letters popular in previous tech waves to uppercase versions, while others have moved back to standard capitalisation. Uber, for example, rolled out an uppercase logo in late 2016 only to replace it with mixed case two years later.
Other branding trends of the past decade include removing articles like “a,” “an”, and “the” from organization names and products, according to The Wall Street Journal. Among the companies that fall into that category: Facebook, which was known as TheFacebook for several months after its launch in 2003.
The logo redesign comes several months after Facebook changed the aesthetics of its “big blue” app, as the platform is known within the company. That redesign replaced busy interfaces with more streamlined pages and switched out blue borders for white ones. The adjustments came as the company shifted its public messaging toward corporate transparency and user privacy.