Rebranding is an essential marketing strategy businesses often undertake to revitalise their image, stay relevant or expand their customer base. When executed successfully, rebrands can breathe new life into a company and strengthen its position in the market.
On July 23, Elon Musk tweeted that he intends to replace Twitter’s ten-year-old blue bird logo with a brand-new one that features an “X.” It’s the business tycoon’s most recent attempt to phase out Twitter’s branding, which hundreds of millions of users worldwide have grown accustomed to over the past ten years.
Since the $44 billion acquisition of the social network, Musk has made a series of changes. From controversial staff layoffs, to the launch of a subscription-based system called “Twitter Blue”, Elon Musk has firmly established himself as a disruptor – for better or worse.
The initial phase of Twitter’s rebrand begun when the company was merged with Musk’s firm X Corp in April. In the past the billionaire has indicated that his purchase of Twitter would be an accelerant in creating a highly ambitious “everything app”.
Musk envisions an “everything app” akin to China’s WeChat—a comprehensive platform encompassing messaging, voice and video calls, social media, and payment services. He visualises this platform as a “digital town square” that fosters user engagement, with potential integration of cryptocurrency and fiat-based payments.
Creating a US-based “super app” would be no easy task, especially given the number of heavy hitters with similar ambitions. Facebook and Instagram have pushed into e-commerce, for instance, while Amazon has extended into several facets of everyday life beyond book sales, like manufacturing and cloud computing.
Musk’s fixation with the letter X started 24 years ago. The entrepreneur co-founded an online bank called X.com in 1999, which later merged with another company to form PayPal. In 2017, he reacquired the domain name X.com from PayPal for an undisclosed sum, tweeting that the domain held “great sentimental value” for him.
It was suggested by writer, Leon F Seltzer that Musk appreciation of the letter stems from its malleability. It can be birth and death, cancellation and multiplication, nothing and everything.
Meanwhile, Musk founded SpaceX in 2002, and via his car company, Tesla, released the Model X in 2015. He even named one of his sons “X”!
The decision to rebrand to “X” has received criticism from marketing consultant Gareth Turner, who deems it a risky move that discards the decades-long equity associated with Twitter’s iconic blue bird logo. Turner argues that successful brands maintain consistent visual assets to ensure mental availability and recognition.
From a logo change management perspective, the rebranding process has been labelled as “amateurish,” lacking a cohesive transition across all interfaces.
On the other hand, it has been suggested that Twitter’s shift to the “X” logo might intentionally narrow its user base, fostering a more engaged community with deeper interactions and enhanced user satisfaction. This aligns with Musk’s philosophy of prioritising meaningful connections over widespread appeal.
The move to X would be in line with Musk’s stance that it’s important to filter out noise and focus on what truly matters. Rather than trying to be everything to everyone, Musk’s vision of the new X could potentially resonate with a more specific audience that would attract like-minded users who appreciate this new direction.
Only time will tell if Musk’s gamble will have lasting results, but it certainly challenges conventional thinking in business and brand strategy. That, of course, is a quintessential Musk move.
At Cordis, we understand that rebrand can be essential making a product or service feel fresh – but it needs to be executed with precision. With expertise in strategic marketing, design, social media management, events and videography – we can ensure that your brand hits the mark.