A name change won't be enough to shield Facebook from the latest backlash prompted by leaked documents
- Facebook will reportedly unveil a new name for itself Thursday to its metaverse goal.
- Experts said a rebrand won't be enough to solve its problems.
- Facebook has to do the "fundamental work" and win the consumer's trust back, experts told Insider.
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Facebook is reportedly announcing a new name for itself Thursday, but that won't be enough to shrug off widespread backlash and a PR nightmare that's only grown worse in recent days.
The new name will reflect CEO Mark Zuckerberg's goal of becoming a "metaverse company" instead of just a social media platform, according to The Verge. The main Facebook app will likely exist under the new name, similarly to how Google is housed under the Alphabet umbrella.
The rebrand and Facebook's increased focus on the metaverse are welcome distractions for the company after former employee-turned whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked internal documents - known as the "Facebook Papers" - to the press and testified before Congress. She said Facebook prioritizes profits over people's safety, and many of the internal documents appear to back up her case.
But experts agreed that a simple name change wouldn't magically solve the company's main problem, which is "the governance of the Facebook social media platform," Erich Joachimsthaler, founder and CEO of consulting firm Vivaldi, said in an interview.
Facebook has to do the "fundamental work" and address the problems that have plagued its social service, Anne Olderog - senior partner at Vivaldi with 20 years of brand strategy experience - told Insider. If not, those same problems could seep into the metaverse.
And while the name change is exciting and creates momentum, Olderog said the public "can definitely see through things like that at this stage." Especially after past missteps that the company has weathered before.
"We've already seen this since the day of the cigarette companies, with Altria and company rebranding themselves trying to get away from toxicity," Olderog said. "This is exactly what Facebook is trying to do right now."
What Facebook's name change could do, however, is save its other projects - like Horizon - from being associated with the bad press that Facebook has gotten, Ashley Cooksley, managing director for North America at The Social Element, told Insider.
"If it's only the holding company that changes its name, it's presumably more about distancing the parent company from the Facebook product so that any toxicity in Facebook stays within that one product, rather than 'infecting' other brands under the parent banner," Cooksley said.
But at the end of the day, it's about whether the public can put its faith in Facebook and its rebrand, which can "solve a world of pain for a brand," but only if it's done correctly, John Weiss, co-founder and partner at the branding and communications agency, Human, told Insider.
"The biggest issue Facebook faces is a lack of consumer trust that it has a greater purpose," Weiss said. "Simply unveiling a new brand will only serve to reinforce consumers' fears that Facebook is only concerned about itself."
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