Facebook’s big rebrand to Meta had the exact opposite effect most rebrands are meant to have, according to a new report from The Harris Poll, a company that monitors brand trust.
Meta was in a PR crisis before it announced its new name. In September The Wall Street Journal started publishing leaked company documents from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, who revealed her identity on October 3.
According to The Harris Brand’s data, the company’s trust score started to fall from 16% once The Journal started publishing stories based on Haugen’s leaked documents, and hit a low of 5.8% in October — the same week Haugen testified before Congress.
The company managed to claw back some trust, climbing back to 11% in late October. Following the rebrand announcement, it dropped back down to 6.2%, per The Harris Brand’s data reported by Fast Company.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the rebrand had nothing to do with the onslaught of bad press resulting from Haugen’s leaked documents, telling the The Verge the current rough patch Meta found itself in had “nothing to bear” on the company’s decision.
Meta has emphasized its rebrand is designed to re-position it as a “metaverse company.” The word metaverse is a term borrowed from science fiction and refers to a version of the internet that people access using virtual-reality and augmented-reality headsets.
Zuckerberg started publicly talking about making Facebook a metaverse company in July, months before the Facebook PR crisis.
PR and branding experts told Insider the name change likely wouldn’t be enough to shield the company’s reputation, and that the company would have to do “fundamental work” to win back trust with consumers. It’s also possible Zuckerberg’s high public profile will interfere with any efforts to wipe Meta’s slate clean.