Is Rebranding a Good Idea?

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By: Dr. David Bridwell, People Scientist and Jake McKenzie, Chief Executive Officer

Facebook has been in the news lately for changing their corporate name from Facebook to Meta. Of course, the Facebook app will remain the same for Facebook’s social media users, but the company that overlooks the app (along with many others) will now be called Meta. 

With this new change to the Facebook corporate name, many marketers might be considering changing the name of their own brands, so we wanted to take a moment to argue for being thoughtful about this choice. Here are a few important things to think about before changing your brand name:

People don’t like change. When it comes to memory science, it’s important to understand that the brain does not like change. Change takes effort, so we often default to our prior experience and knowledge in order to make quick, effortless, decisions. When our brain does make changes to long-term memories, it’s usually a slow process and it’s often done begrudgingly. 

Brand names don’t have to be descriptive. When our brains store brand names, we don’t store them literally, but semantically. This means that we remember what we think the name means, not what it literally means. For example, when we hear the word Amazon, we most likely think of the huge online retailer and not the river in South America. 

Brand managers often recommend that companies use non-descriptive brand names because they give companies more flexibility in the type of products and services that they offer. The associations that people have with the brand don’t have to come from the brand name itself, instead, they can be developed through experience with the product and through marketing and advertising.

Brand names fit within the brand architecture. When considering a new brand name, it’s important to think about how it fits within other brands within the parent company. In the case of Facebook, you can argue that their initial decision to name their corporate identity Facebook (after the social media app) was ill advised. Many people carry beliefs about the social media app that might not be beneficial to their corporate identity. Going forward, Facebook needs to be strategic about the associations that they would like to make (and not make) between the Facebook identity and the Meta identity. 

Overall, marketers will often be tempted to make drastic changes to a brand logo or brand name, but it’s often a bad decision. An understanding of marketing psychology and consumer decision-making can help. Feel free to give us a call at 833-578-1314 or email us at [email protected] to discuss how we can help with your marketing challenges. In addition, sign up for our newsletter to stay in touch with the latest insights in marketing psychology.