The tweeting of Twitter’s iconic bird logo went silent on the 23rd of July, 2023, when the new owner of the social media platform, Elon Musk, decided to rebrand it to a simple X.
This move has sprouted many conflicting opinions as to if this move is that of a genius playing the long run or a catastrophe that will eventually lead to the downfall of the once successful platform.
Twitter: A Strong Brand
A strong brand doesn’t occur overnight; it takes years of careful planning, execution, and research to build an image that you want to resonate with the target audience. Imagine spending your whole afternoon building an impressive sandcastle, only to watch it be torn down by another kid as soon as you leave it unattended.
The Symbolism and Connotations Behind X
A strong brand identity means a lot when it comes to credibility and trustworthiness. The mysterious X symbol that has appeared in the blue bird’s place can to some appear a little unsettling because of many of the negative connotations associated with the letter X.
Some of these negative connotations can be its similarity to logos like, unironically, X-rated content and adult content sites. It also feels confusing to use on digital devices, considering X is often the symbol used for closing down windows or exiting programs.
A large red X is often associated with failure, errors, or warning signs, and can give off an unpleasant feeling. X is often associated with an ending, like an ex-partner, or ex-CEO, although in this case the X is accompanied by an E beforehand.
But there are also positive connotations to the letter X, like how the television show “X Factor” defines it: “The title refers to the undefinable, “something” that makes for star quality.”
X is symbolized with something unknown, like an unknown variable in a mathematical question, or an unknown person. It can also be used to symbolize something known, like an X to mark a spot on a map.
Perhaps this is what X represents to Elon? A social media where X marks the spot, but is undefined and contourless from other social media with defined purposes.
The History of X
Elon has long wished to create a site called x.com. In 1999 Elon owned a digital banking site named x.com, which eventually merged with Confinity which offered Paypal as a service, before rebranding to Paypal in 2001. Elon Musk was allegedly fired and replaced by someone before Confinity’s rebrand to Paypal. For a more in-depth look at Elon Musk’s role in Paypal, check out this article from Snopes.com.
It seems like Elon Musk has always had a fascination with the letter X, considering he tried to use X for his previous banking business, X Corp, SpaceX, Tesla models containing X in their name, and even his child X Æ A – 12. Rebranding Twitter to X doesn’t seem to be off-brand when it comes to Elon Musk himself.
But what does this mean? Why should anyone care if this branding move was bad or good? If we look at this from a marketing perspective, Elon has managed to be on everyone’s tongue lately, giving relevance to his platform and discussion around his brand. But is this enough in the long run? Will people come to terms with the change and will ad spending increase?
Will Twitter’s Rebrand Affect Ad Spending?
Considering how you will now have to pay a subscription fee to become a verified user, spending money only to spend more for the ad itself has left a sour taste in the mouth of ad spenders.
Since anyone can buy these verification symbols, it has lost a lot of its trustworthiness. Anyone can register an account on your business and add a verified check to it and impersonate your business. To combat this, X launched an “Impersonation Defense”, for only the small fee of 1000 dollars per month, or 12 000 dollars a year.
Branded Words Will Lose its Meaning
Twitter’s brand is known for the verb “Tweeting”, which is used for posting short texts to their platform. With the recent rebrand, saying “tweeting”, “retweet” or “tweet” doesn’t make sense anymore. Alternatives like X-ing haven’t caught on yet, perhaps because it somewhat sounds like performing a certain adult activity, but time will tell if X-ing will successfully replace tweeting.
What is X Supposed to Become?
What is X supposed to be? Elon Musk says that Twitter was acquired to ensure freedom of speech and as an accelerant for X, the everything app, heavily inspired by the Chinese social media “WeChat”. In the context of how Twitter will no longer consist of short 140-character messages back and forth, a new name and brand doesn’t seem as far-fetched anymore.
Linda Yaccarino, Chief Executive Officer at X Corp, made a statement about Twitter’s future:
Although, the execution and choices made by Elon Musk for this rebrand are still up for discussion by brand professionals and Twitter’s user base. What most people seem to agree on is that X has a lot of work to do to rebuild trust within its audience and user base.
A complete rebrand of such a well-developed brand as Twitter is sure to be hard and confusing to the creatives behind the brand material. Imagining how many updates the creative team has to perform on their brand sounds like enough to ask for an extra day or two of vacation.
Twitter is no longer birds tweeting back and forth, it is now every social media and more in one. The core brand image is gone and the Twitter team must adapt.
To adapt quickly and efficiently to such a strong change in their core brand identity, digital solutions like a digital brand guide can assure every member of the team and their collaborators has up-to-date assets and guidelines, making the transition from Twitter to X as smooth as possible.
brandguide.io is designed to ensure that brand guidelines and brand assets are always up-to-date and readily available to creative professionals, your clients, and your partners. With all branding materials in one centralized location, even something as overwhelming as a rebranding of a renowned company will become less of a hassle to deal with.
If you’re hungry for more, take a look at our post about social media branding in the digital landscape here.