Twitter’s ‘X’ Rebrand

14 August 2023 4 min read
Reading Time: 4 minutes

X-istential chaos: The wrong reasons to rebrand and how to avoid them

We’ve had a few weeks to think about it and… nope, X still hasn’t settled well.  It all just feels a bit wrong. Why has this social media rebranding failed to hit the spot?

Any rebranding can be complicated and carry huge risks. But if you’re considering a rebrand because your company’s vision, mission, values, and market are no longer reflected in your brand, then a rebrand might be the right decision. But was that the case with Twitter? Has anything other than the logo actually changed?

The Blue Bird

The Twitter bird logo, first introduced in 2010, has taken years to perfect and is arguably one of the most recognised logos on the internet. So much so that they even removed the name ‘Twitter’ from the logo in 2011. The final version of the blue bird, created in 2012, uses the ‘golden ratio’ to make it even more perfect and visually satisfying

The household social media name has even become a verb, with collective users ‘tweeting’ their thoughts, opinions and musings over 500 million times a day. It seems the Twitter branding had achieved what many brands aspire to do and that very few actually achieve. Global recognition.

Bumpy beginnings

In true Elon Musk style, the platform’s new owner has made the controversial move to rebrand Twitter to the illusive ‘X’ seemingly for all the wrong reasons, with YouGov reporting a 67% negative reaction amongst platform users. 

The rebranding of Twitter has had a  bumpy start. Here are the timelines so far:

We can’t see much here to suggest that X realigns the company’s vision, mission, values, and market. In fact, as our very own Amelia Strawson put it, “X to me is a placeholder, it doesn’t have any meaning or value”.

What is a good reason to re-brand (and what isn’t)?

As well as making a few effective brand tweaks to nail down your vision, mission and values, it may also be logical to consider a rebrand if a company is expanding into new markets. A rebrand may be beneficial here if the brand isn’t yet known or needs to be adapted to better suit a new audience, or perhaps there has been a merger and the new brand needs to incorporate another company. But aside from these very valid reasons to rebrand, there are also a number of reasons that it should be avoided: 

  • Boredom – just because you’re sick of seeing the same logo every day this isn’t a good enough reason to rebrand.
  • Covering up a crisis – a fresh start might be appealing, but if you’re trying to distance yourself from bad press or internal struggles your consumers and employees will often see straight through your rebrand. It’s not always a reason not to change your brand, but it usually is!

“Whatever the reason, rebranding in the middle of a crisis is usually a terrible idea. Rebranding is a hard trick to pull off in the best of times. It’s even harder when the organisation is already in disarray and customers are doubtful.”

Stefano Puntoni, Wharton Professor and Behavioural Scientist (LinkedIn)

  • Impact and ego – as a new manager (or owner, ahem) you might think the best way to make your mark is to rebrand, but in reality, the changes you implement are not enough to justify a rebrand. “More often than not, new leadership that insists on a rebrand is doing it more for themselves than the company.”
  • Looking for attention – maybe you felt threatened by a new social media platform being released by your arch enemy (awks.) and wanted to get the spotlight back on you? Rebranding for this reason” will at best create some short-term buzz and at worst you’ll lose whatever brand recognition you had and set back your sales and marketing efforts.”

“A logo change may get some buzz, but it won’t get user re-evaluation unless changes are made at the product/service level – and they ‘fit’ with the name change rationale”

Helen Edwards, Director at Passionbrand (Marketing Week)

Now this is starting to make us realise why X has fallen short…

Public opinions

It seems we’re not the only ones to think this with most labelling the social media rebrand as a risky and somewhat unnecessary gamble. The outcomes of which appear to be:  

  • Loss of brand equity: The famous blue bird,  established over the past 17 years, has been put in the bin. This has caused damage to its reputation and user base, making it all the more difficult for us marketers to reach the right people.
  • The lack of product/service clarity: If you’re able to give a detailed description of what X will offer then give yourself a pat on the back because most of us are none the wiser! With no clear explanation of what X is set to become, marketers will likely find it increasingly difficult to plan out how the platform will fit into social media marketing strategies moving forward.  This could be a real problem for X in terms of lost advertising dollars.

The onset of user backlash: We already know that the social media rebranding has put a bad taste in the mouths of many Twitter users, which could ultimately lead to a decline in user engagement in the long run. We’re already seeing this through a reported decline in traffic to the Twitter website last month, with users likely migrating to competing platforms such as Meta’s ‘Threads’.

What’s on the horizon

Will X swiftly become the “everything app” or could its controversial social media rebranding be the start of Twitter’s demise? 
There have been some hints towards Elon Musk’s new vision for X, including the creation of a more open and free platform for speech, plans to incorporate features stretching from communication to commerce, as well as heavy investments to increase advertising revenue and increase profitability. But, if you ask us, it all seems a little too vague…

If you’re thinking of rebranding then a Messaging Workshop can be the best place to start. Download our Guide to Running a Corporate Messaging Workshop now

We’d love to hear your thoughts on X across our social platforms, so share your pearls of wisdom on the controversial social media rebranding and make sure to tag us! Plus, if you’re looking for help with your marketing, we offer a free 30-minute session with one of our experts for whatever you need – whether you want to discuss your existing strategy or brainstorm new ideas, get in touch to book a free consultancy session today.