Will Meta brand make much of a difference to consumers?

(Will Meta mean anything ultimately?)

Editor’s Note: It’s official. Facebook changed its name to Meta. One branch of the company will devote itself to its apps (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp) and other to its VR and AR capabilities. In 2014, Facebook purchased gaming headset company Oculus for $2 billion, and it has been building out a virtual social platform called Horizon.

“We are at the beginning of the next chapter for the internet, and it’s the next chapter for our company too,” Zuckerberg said during his address.

While the company is experiencing its “Big Bang,” creating a metaverse, the question remains will the rebranding have the same impact on advertisers and consumers as say, The Marvel Cinematic Universe, The DC Entertainment Universe, or Universal, even? Robertson Engelsman, SVP Head of Strategy & Relevance at Annex88 (a part of Havas).

On its face, it makes total sense for Facebook to be at a stage where it wants to create a newer, cleaner identity from which to do the majority of its operations. Facebook the website has been just one part of a vast enterprise for a while now when you consider all of the different pots that the company has its hands in.

I’ve seen a lot of comparisons to the move Google made when it introduced Alphabet a few years ago, and I think that’s a fair comparison in the sense that again this is a company that’s name currently represents just one facet of a very complicated organization.

The reasoning for this change – that it is meant to reflect the rising conversation and investment in the metaverse – feels less clear at the moment, and may in the end just be a fancier way to say it’s doing what others like google have done before.

REELated: Facebook rebrands itself as Meta

Silicon Valley (and its investors) love a good buzzword, and to be frank, right now the metaverse is much more buzzword than reality for the majority of people in the world. It’s a shrewd move because to investors it signals that Facebook is looking to the future, while to everyday consumers it won’t make much of a difference to their immediate experience using Facebook’s most popular apps (FB, IG, WhatsApp mainly).

The irony in all of this is that what Facebook is essentially trying to do is uncouple its reputation from its future works (or works already in progress), while at the same time there is a growing movement to literally uncouple the apps that make Facebook’s reach and integration into daily life so powerful.

There is little likelihood that either move (a new name, or the political pressure to uncouple) will erase the immense impact Facebook has already had on society, so I’m sure that whatever this new name or structure turns out to be will be met with healthy skepticism as all Facebook decisions are.

Lastly, for marketers, this is another reminder to not get distracted by the new shiny things but instead focus on what value you can provide consumers. There are a lot of flashy buzzwordy things in culture right now and a lot of brands are floundering trying to keep up instead of keeping an eye on how these things actually impact the day to day of the consumers we care about.

In the case of the Meta, I’ve yet to see why the majority of brands need to be investing time and energy in the space until it matures and is more widely understood & engaged with.

Robertson Engelsman, SVP Head of Strategy & Relevance at Annex88 (a part of Havas).