Social media and branding: what needs to change?

Facebook recently introduced a new logo. But is a rebrand enough to change people’s perceptions of the company? As social media enters an inflection point in its history, Koto’s James Greenfield examines the deeper changes these brands need to make

Two weeks ago Facebook introduced a new look and feel for the Facebook company, not the app, but the company, in an effort to bring clarity about the products and services which make up the Facebook eco system. A new logo to “better communicate our ownership structure to the people and businesses who use our services”. I’d ask if a logo is the best way to achieve this and if having two things, a company and an app with the same name is confusing? To understand how this example of social media’s difficult relationship with branding came to pass, you have to go back in time to look at the medium’s birth.

During the 20th century the social groups we created around us were commonly based on circumstance and shared interests. Social networks came to prominence after the millennium as platforms in a world that believed it had moved away from this established order. Newspaper sales were dropping, smartphones were just emerging and tech was seen as a positive instigator of change within our societies.

A more open and connected world than ever before, supported by utopian visions like Facebook’s “to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together”. We saw a shift change from being the audience for the monolithic media brands of the past, to being an interactive part of these open platforms of the future. Everyone was ready for their 15 minutes of fame. What could go wrong?