Late last year, Facebook changed its name to Goalostensibly to reflect its focus on virtual reality spaces known as metaverse. The ad was reminiscent of Google’s 2015 name change, when it became Alphabet.
It doesn’t look like the Meta name change has been internalized by users, just as the name of Alphabet was not. Just ask anyone on the street if they know Meta or Alphabet. Certainly the answer is very different from if you are asked if you know Facebook or Google.
Then… Why do companies change their name?
Reasons why companies change their name
Sometimes, the name doesn’t really reflect the direction the company is taking. Other times, the company seeks to get rid of some aspect of its past.
In addition to Facebook and Google, other tech companies have changed their names in recent years. In 2016, Snapchat has became Photographand in 2017, Tesla dropped the “Motors” from its name.
There is another reason for a company to change its name: Be a victim of your own success. The company launches a successful product that gives the company its name, but over time it launches many other products, some of which are not tied to that original product.
Google and Facebook started with a unique and successful product and then grew, both organically and through acquisitions. Each newly acquired Facebook product, from Instagram to WhatsApp, has come with its own brand and reputation.
What led Facebook to change its name?
In the case of Facebook, the company said it would become a Meta in October 2021, the same month that the platform strategies to publicize fake news and hateful messages, without taking any action.
It is very likely that the move from Facebook to Meta was largely to make up for the bad reputation the company was earning.
In the hour-long name change announcement video, CEO Mark Zuckerberg presents the company’s vision for the metaverse. It’s very well produced, but it doesn’t make reference to the problematic media situation that was going on.
On the other hand, renaming can also search send a message to the competition or investors. The choice of Meta reflects a clear effort to gain a pioneering advantage in this space.