Deciphering Elon Musk’s Radical Rebrand of an Iconic Social Media Platform
Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter, has made another significant change to the social media platform, replacing its iconic bird, one of the most well-known logos in the tech industry, with a black-and-white “X.” The move is part of a rebrand he announced last month, saying: “And soon we shall bid adieu to the Twitter brand and, gradually, all the birds.”
The effort hit a snag on Tuesday when the brightly-illuminated sign of the new X logo, recently installed atop the company’s building in San Francisco, had to be removed due to the lack of a building permit. It is the latest chapter in what’s been a chaotic time for the company under Musk’s leadership. Even today it remains unclear what exactly the rebrand means. Will we still tweet or will we X? Will the company’s domain name be changed? Exploring these questions will take more than Twitter’s original character limit, but we’re prepared to go the distance.
What We Know So Far
Musk purchased Twitter in 2022 for a mind-boggling $44 billion and has since been outspoken about stepping away from its bird-related imagery and transforming it into an “everything app.” Even though he has provided little information about his vision, it is assumed he is referring to apps like WeChat, the most popular app in China.
WeChat is a one-stop shop for its 1.4 billion users, providing a wide range of services, from text and voice messaging to social networking, video conferencing, gaming, mobile payment and even food delivery.
Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino spoke about the company’s expanding goals on the platform last week, saying: “It’s incredibly rare in life or business to get a second chance to make a big impression. Twitter made a huge impression and changed the way we communicate. Now, X will go even further, transforming the global town square. X is the future of unlimited interactivity, centered on audio, video, messaging, payments/banking, and creating a global marketplace for ideas, goods, services, and opportunities. Powered by AI, X will connect us all in ways we’re just beginning to imagine.”
Yaccarino is certainly offering an ambitious vision, but it is yet to be seen how a company that fired 70% of its staff and had to set a daily limit on viewing tweets plans to build an AI-powered app that delivers on all of those promises.
What Are Marketing Experts Saying About the Rebrand?
Many believe that abandoning the Twitter brand is an unnecessary risk for Musk, as it could cost the company anywhere from $4 billion to $20 billion in value. “It has become a verb,” said Forrester research director Mike Proulx. “That’s the holy grail. It’s a brand that has secured a place in our cultural lexicon. Musk has wiped out over 15 years of brand equity in the Twitter name.”
The pivot to X has been disjointed to say the very least, with X.com leading to a GoDaddy “for sale” page during its launch. Musk has also said that “tweets” are to be referred to as “Xs,” but Twitter’s branding and terminology remain peppered across the platform. And, despite Twitter’s ability to survive a year of outages and the loss of more than half of its ad revenue, serious rivals are emerging. Elon’s ambitious vision will be a difficult undertaking.
Boston College Communications professor and branding expert Michael Serazio presents a sobering summation of the X rebranding effort: “How many times has that worked in the past, where there is a big rebrand based on an original product failing? Where they rebranded to a larger strategy and pulled it off? None come to mind.”
While a seismic shift like Twitter’s makeover won’t ever be a consideration for most businesses, Baer Performance Marketing has the tools, knowledge, and experience to leverage the full potential of any brand, guiding it successfully through transitions, rebranding, or minor tweaks in strategy. (Even billionaires need to seek outside counsel in times when marketing expertise and insight would be instrumental.) If your business is ready to have that conversation, give us a call at (920) 632-7648 or email the Baer Performance Marketing inbox (or should we say x-box?!). X marks the spot for better branding at Baer Performance Marketing!