Letting the dust settle before diving in with a comment is often the best policy. One week in and the dust is still swirling around the Twitter rebrand like a cyclone in the desert. One wonders if calm will ever be restored at Twitter, or X, with Elon at the helm.
In case you've been taking a sabbatical in a monastery, On July 23, 2023, Elon Musk announced that Twitter would be rebranded to X. The move surprised many, as Twitter's iconic blue bird logo had been in use for over a decade.
Look at your phone's home screen now and you'll see the familiar blue icon has been replaced with a white X on a black background. That's going to take some getting used to.
The rebrand has been met with mixed reactions to say the least. A large majority have expressed consternation at the change and nostalgia for the old logo, although there have been some pockets of support.
What does the rebrand mean for Twitter?
There's no two ways about it, the rebrand to X is an immense change for Twitter and you'd like to think there is a strong commercial rationale behind it.
A significant shift from a company's old branding normally signals a change in direction for a business, a desire to draw a line under the old and move into a new space with new energy.
All of this could be said to be true.
Musk has said that the rebrand is part of his plan to turn X into a "super app", which offers a variety of features, including payments, audio, and video. He has also said the new logo is more "modern" and "minimalistic."
He obviously wants to do things very differently to the founders; and he surely see the Twitter name and identity as deeply rooted in the founders' values and not his own.
But alongside all this, there is also more than a hint of suspicion that Elon has done what Elon often does and just followed his instincts. Some might call it acting on a whim.
My word is this risky. To completely drop one of the world's most recognised brands needs balls of steel, or a complete departure from one's senses, depending on which side of the argument you sit.
Twitter was acquired by X Corp both to ensure freedom of speech and as an accelerant for X, the everything app. This is not simply a company renaming itself, but doing the same thing.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 25, 2023
The Twitter name made sense when it was just 140 character messages going back and forth – like…
“It could turn out to be the foundation of considerable commercial success or the point at which $30bn is thrown away.”
What does the rebrand mean for users?
The rebrand to X is already having an emotional impact on users. Some profess to be excited about the new logo and the potential for Twitter to become a more comprehensive platform. Others - the majority - are vocal in their disappointment and are threatening to vote with their scrolling thumbs.
The Twitter brand was arguably successful because the users felt they "owned" it to some degree - it was their conversations, their profiles, their opinions. The friendly logo and the language of the "tweet" supported this sentiment (which isn't to be naive about it evolving into a pretty poisonous place at times).
Now, users have been reminded, in no uncertain terms, that it is not theirs at all: it is owned by a very rich individual with an unpredictable streak that nobody has yet worked out how to handle, and he will do with it whatever the hell he likes.
That's fair enough, but the impact on users, and user numbers is phenomenally important to the platform's commercial success. Advertisers old and new will be watching the numbers like hawks.
And so too will the branding industry. The rebrand will either prove what they have been saying all along, that a brand is a precious commodity to be disrespected at the owner’s peril, or that you can create an identity for a business in whatever form you like, customers really don’t care.
What do you think of Twitter's rebrand to X?
It is too early to say what the long-term impact of the rebrand will be. However, it is clear that Musk is serious about changing Twitter, and the rebrand is a sign of that.
It could turn out to be the foundation of considerable commercial success or the point at which $30bn is thrown away. Time will tell.
What do you think? Is the rebrand a good idea, will it be successful?
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