Facebook needed a new corporate face, now it has one.

Maybe it’s a sign of the times, but we’re surprised by the critical piling on among marketing professionals over Facebook’s new corporate brand, Meta. I mean you can dislike the company, but still admire the approach. Unquestionably, Zuckerberg and team made the right decision to create a corporate brand distinct from their products (Facebook, Instagram, etc.). If anything, they should have done so sooner. But the company has fallen out of favour with some — although you wouldn’t know it talking to advertisers — so it’s popular to pan.

Separating a company and product brands is hardly a novel approach. Google did it with Alphabet in 2015 to good effect. Meta’s brand architecture approach is worth noting here — the brands are distinct from one another. This model is referred to as a house of brands, where portfolio brands are unrelated. The other end of the spectrum, where brands are closely related, in a branded house. It makes sense that Meta has distinct brands. First of all, the product brands deliver unique experiences for users, and channel options for advertisers. These are the customers that matter to brand managers.

Meanwhile, the corporate brand has other duties. The company hasn’t been doing itself any favours dragging Facebook through high-profile regulatory reviews and negative press. So yes, sometimes companies separate the corporate brand to insulate product brands from reputation risk. But this isn’t the only reason. The company also has to deal with a myriad of other stakeholders like investors, employees, media, partners, regulators, and others. Makes sense to have a corporate brand to host corporate stakeholders, especially at the global scale of Meta. Lastly, this enables the company to introduce future product brands, which it’s hinting at.

As for the name and logo, the company will be successful with the identity. Sure, lots of companies use the infinity symbol in their logo. So what? Meta will outspend them all and dominate association with the symbol. As for the name, it’s at least fine. It’s short, easy to pronounce, and hints at a future digital era while being general enough for whatever actually transpires in the metaverse. Again, the product brands are the money-makers that consumers and advertisers will be focused on.

In our experience, brand portfolio design and brand architecture strategy are among the most complex and least understood aspects of brand management. Probably because most brand managers have experience managing a single brand, while fewer are responsible for multiple brands. The equation is further complicated when dealing with both product and company brands. And, it’s never a one-size-fits-all solution. The good news is that there are well-established best practices and use cases to consider. If you’re wrestling with questions about your own brand portfolio, contact us for an assessment.

Coupland & Company Ltd. is a boutique business-to-business brand consultancy specializing in commercial, industrial, and professional service firms. We assist leaders charged with business transformation, growth, and the integration of newly-acquired companies. Our clients are private-sector businesses that strengthen Canada’s economy and global competitiveness.

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