Creative X on how it formed Facebook’s new Meta brand

In an exclusive interview, the designers from Meta’s in-house agency tell us that they focused on how the identity would be experienced in 3D and sculpting the logo in VR.

Date
8 November 2021

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have heard by now that Facebook is taking to the metaverse and has rebranded itself as Meta – this refers to the parent company which owns Instagram, Whatsapp, and the Facebook app and website.

Creative X is the creative agency within what’s now known as Meta and its designers were given the monumental task of creating a new brand for Facebook. Marian Chiao, the lead designer on Creative X, Sam Halle, the lead brand strategist, and Zach Stubenvoll, head of design, explain to It’s Nice That how logo development was “pioneered in print” before being “perfected for the screen.” The team says that they wanted to “go a step further and design our new symbol to dynamically live in the metaverse our company is helping to build,” embracing the heavily virtual nature of the metaverse into the creation process.

“As we crafted the Meta symbol,” the three continue, “we focused on 3D experiences, motion behaviour, and sculpted the shape in VR using Quest. Drawn from a single, continuous line in space, the Meta symbol forms a continuous loop that works seamlessly between 2D and 3D contexts.” The logo is designed to be in constant motion, and hopes to invite participation. Users can interact with it and “move through it as a portal to another dimension. It can resemble an M for “Meta,” or even an infinity sign to symbolise infinite horizons in the metaverse,” the designers expand. Whilst the Meta word mark was designed for “simplicity, approachability and performance across a wide range of applications.” It uses the company’s bespoke typeface that was introduced in 2019, “with an exaggerated x-height and single story ‘a’,” the team continues.

The team says that because the shared name made it hard to meaningfully differentiate the Facebook company from the Facebook app, they believe they can more clearly represent that “the company is more than one product as we help bring the metaverse to life.” The team believes that Meta represents “the next evolution of social technology.” This vision, they felt, needed to be represented in the Meta brand system. So they developed a “symbol first” system, making use of a conceptually driven symbol that could “behave and communicate the infinite possibilities of the metaverse”.

“This was a partnership of design efforts from across the company," said Teemu Suviala, the director and head of brand design at Reality Labs, “bringing together design and creative work from Creative X, Reality Labs and Product teams, to develop a timeless brand system.”

Gathering inspiration for such a brand system from architects like Zaha Hadid, installation artists like Olafur Eliasson, and artists like Isamu Noguchi, Anish Kapoor and Jose de Rivera, the team says that the Meta system is an evolution of the same company system that it launched in 2019, and they also drew inspiration from “products and experiences the company has been building to enable social connection in 2D and 3D environments”.

Above

Courtesy of Meta

Noticeably, a great deal of inspiration came from the new name. “In addition to the obvious connection to the word metaverse,” the designers say, “we were inspired by the fact that “Meta” can mean “beyond.” This next chapter will take us beyond the constraints of screens, beyond the limits of distance and even physics,” leading to the infinite loop symbol of the new brand, which changes and evolves as the user moves around it whilst also symbolising the letter “M”.

However, rapid iteration was a challenge. Chiao, Halle and Stubenvoll wanted to build a brand system that was able to grow with the Meta company over time and could perform in “existing and future formats of the metaverse.” They built in a process of “constant prototyping across formats, while strategically focusing on introducing the minimum number of design elements, ensuring the Meta design system can grow with our company,” the explain to us. Utilising collaboration from across the company, they were able to bring together design, brand and strategy teams from around the company who didn’t often have the chance to work together. This meant that designing remote, also a challenge. Since the team could not be together in the same room, they developed a process of “constant communication across the design and strategy teams,” where they held forums for open discussion and used a range of collaboration tools.

Simplicity was key when redesigning the brand for what is now known as Meta. The team believes that the brand will have a relationship with people in software, hardware and metaverse contexts. Therefore, they aimed to develop the system to have a set of “core fixed elements (Meta symbol, wordmark and name) to ensure that anyone at our company could activate the Meta design system with consistency across communications and context.” Getting all of this done within the seven-month timeline was a challenge in itself also, so they prioritised the core elements of the Meta brand system, “while planning to continue building the Meta brand system after introducing the brand to the world”.

It’s hard to ignore that the Meta branding also uses the blue gradient as a nod to Facebook, which the team says was a way to connect the company’s origins to its future. “But the symbol can also take on infinite textures, colours and movement,” continue the three designers, “capturing the creativity and imagination of a 3D world. In motion, the Meta symbol can pull in the colour of our core products, drawing from the FB monogram from our previous system.”

Above

Courtesy of Meta

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Courtesy of Meta

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About the Author

Dalia Al-Dujaili

Dalia joined It’s Nice That as a news writer in July 2021 after graduating in English Literature from The University of Edinburgh. She's written for various indie publications such as Azeema and Notion, and ran her own magazine and newsletter platforming marginalised creativity.

dad@itsnicethat.com

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