Elon Musk this week revealed a new logo for Twitter, a "minimalist art deco" X. 'Tweets' will also apparently be replaced, with posts on the platform set to be called 'x's'.
The letter features in large parts of Musk's business portfolio and is the name given to a "super app" he has pledged to make since taking over Twitter in October 2022. The concept of such an app is based on WeChat, the Chinese platform that users can interact with in numerous ways, such as messaging, paying bills, shopping, ordering public transport, and more.
"X is the future state of unlimited interactivity – centred in audio, video, messaging, payments/banking – creating a global marketplace for ideas, goods, services, and opportunities," tweeted Linda Yaccarino, CEO of Twitter, on Sunday. "Powered by AI, X will connect us all in ways we’re just beginning to imagine."
The X rebrand also comes off the back of Meta's own Twitter challenger, Threads.
LBB's Addison Capper spoke with social media and branding leaders from across the advertising industry to get a temperature check of its feelings towards the change and its implications for brands.
Head of social strategy and innovation at DDB Chicago
Since signalling his initial interest in purchasing the company over one year ago, Musk had made clear his intent to transform the service from a text-first messaging platform to a ‘super app’ that could compete with the likes of Weibo in China. In his estimation, the service can only reach its full potential by allowing its users (including brands) to do everything from consuming content to shopping and banking, hence his focus on verifying the true identity of each user on the platform.
However, this approach risks further alienating the core users who have long sustained the platform for over a decade and have been especially critical of the changes Musk has made up to this point. With the introduction of Threads, this group finally has an alternate place to express themselves to an audience of similar scale, and much of X's user base will likely use this rebranding as an excuse to fully commit to Meta's newest platform.
For advertisers, this latest change will only further cement the 'wait and see' approach that many have taken since Musk took ownership of the company last autumn. Even brands that had long used Twitter to hone a unique brand voice were already shifting focus to other platforms with more users and an established focus on video, such as Instagram and TikTok.
This change in name signals the true beginning of Musk's vision as owner, but the longer it takes X to successfully launch the product features it's supposed to signal, the more ground it will lose with advertisers who will continue to invest resources elsewhere.
Executive creative director at Mother Design
It's not surprising at all. From the beginning it's been clear that he's going to change the company and make noise doing it. Ditching the bird and 10 years of equity for a mysterious, cold, sharp, serious logo is another statement that he'll do what he wants. It aligns to his personal aesthetic and fits into his portfolio of companies. From a design perspective...it's an X. It's the universal shorthand of an anonymous placeholder, time will tell if there's a deeper meaning. Maybe there is, maybe he just thinks it's edgy.
Senior director of social marketing at Crispin Porter + Bogusky
Nothing surprises me with (the social platform formerly known as) Twitter anymore. I personally believe that the rebrand is not a strong move and may have deeper roots in Musk’s personal branding efforts than it does in business strategy. For those who don’t know, Musk’s 1999 banking project that merged with PayPal was named ‘X.com’, so it may be safe to theorise that he’s carried a torch for that, ever since.
Musk’s plan to bring an ‘everything app’ to Western markets isn’t a bad concept at the core. TenCent’s WeChat is the best example of an everything app and sees 1.2 billion monthly active users across its services. But rebranding your flagship product and throwing away 20 years of branding seems to run counter to that goal. It harkens back to the sudden ‘Meta’ rebrand back in 2021, but X appears to be based even less on goals versus a concept of future-proofing and grabbing up hypothetical market share in an everything-app arms race. Based on the precedent set by Meta, it's quite possible that Twitter could remain the product name in some capacity.
Designer at Re (Part of M&C Saatchi Group)
Elon Musk's move here is pretty obvious. A company in crisis, fierce competition, so what's the solution? A rebrand! Musk defaults to his usual monochrome, 'slick', and minimal aesthetic, but it is remarkably less considered than what we've seen with Tesla or SpaceX. Gradually releasing brand elements, like changing the logo when the rest of Twitter is focused on 'Tweet'-related content, also doesn't make sense. It's a massive shame to discard years of brand building, and I sympathise with all the creatives behind that work. The big question now is, will this push more Twitter users towards Threads? As for me, I know where I'll be.
SVP, creative lead social and digital at MullenLowe US
Analysing decisions at X without addressing Elon Musk's marketing style is challenging. The whole philosophy is exposure without spending. If you accept the philosophy, this could be a brilliant move. Switching the name and making lofty proclamations about creating an 'everything app' will provide X weeks of content. The internet is abuzz. Mission accomplished.
Yes, the launch was a hot mess. I mean, SFPD stopped them from changing the logo at headquarters because they didn't have a permit. However, the Twitter name and branding likely have too much baggage to go where he wants. The X name might be a bit draconian, but it is a decent handle. And if you squint and believe in Musk's proclamations, which many do, one can imagine where X could go. X can do a lot as it's applied. It's a variable in experiences, a connector, spot marking, etc.
Ultimately, the question this change left me with is, when will X have the team in place that allows Musk to practice his unique marketing style and execute the vision product-wise? X needs to develop products people love and be able to partner with companies selling things. That seems dead in the water right now. He's amazingly successful, but it seems to me, that success hinges on the talent he surrounds himself with. This launch only reinforces the open question of whether Musk has the style (and maybe EQ) to run a company that relies on media-style partnership. The jury is still out on that.
Group strategy director and head of PLEX at TBWA\Chiat\Day LA
While the company formerly known as Twitter is trying hard to drive direct consumer business from subscriptions, the vast majority of its revenue is still based on a B2B business model. The data couldn't be more clear, brand matters more than ever to the health of B2B organisations. And in this case, we're looking at a pretty serious self-inflicted injury. Love or hate the old blue bird, it was iconic, instantly recognisable and brought a sense of simplicity to the chaos of digital media. The human truth is that the brand kept Twitter top of mind for marketers as they managed their budgets, and reinforced the human connections that the brand spent time and resources building over the years. Now, all that equity is at risk.
At their best, B2B brands are the ultimate disruptors, driving innovation at the intersection of technology and commerce. There was a time, not that long ago, that Twitter embodied all of that and more. Rediscovering that DNA and re-energising the brand could have been a disruptive path forward. Scrapping the bird altogether? Seems more like an act of destruction.
UK CEO at We Are Social
In most circumstances, getting rid of a very visible global brand comes with a large amount of risk - and this is no exception. However, the difference with Twitter is that Musk has already done such a huge amount of damage to the brand through his very public management of it, that there’s not a lot left from the original brand to be destroyed.
He will undoubtedly lose those final loyal Twitter users in this shift away from the original product as he moves into the direction of creating a WeChat for the Western world. Ironically, so many of the original Twitter fans may welcome this change because it finally signals the death of a brand they loved, but today bears little resemblance to the aspects they loved about it.
Director, paid social at GALE
Elon is turning Twitter into an everything app - mimicking WeChat. While this wasn’t necessarily discussed when he initially acquired Twitter, this vision likely fuelled the purchase. He envisions X as a future state characterised by boundless interactivity, primarily centred around audio, video, messaging, payments/banking, and the creation of a worldwide marketplace for ideas, goods, services, and opportunities. It aims to become an all-in-one hub, providing seamless access to a diverse range of features and functionalities. He will most likely leverage and integrate all data from Twitter (X) into his family of data-aggregating machines (Tesla, SpaceX, ) to have a better understanding of the universe. There's also an association with Elon's previous venture X.com which got renamed to PayPal after the merger, and then there’s SpaceX, Tesla's Model X, etc. This pattern tells us a lot more.
However, rebranding Twitter to ‘X’ feels like another distraction surrounding the downfall of Twitter after the takeover.
In the short term, rebranding to X does not change much for the immediate future. Twitter - or X, whichever you choose to call it for now - still has much to figure out, such as how to contend with Threads, how to appease sensitive brands who have not resumed advertising on the platform, managing user privacy, and figuring out its monetisation strategy which has pivoted numerous times since the platform’s acquisition late last year.
Global executive director of growth and innovation at VMLY&R Commerce
X MARKS THE SPOT?
Elon Musk has rebranded Twitter to 'X', having suggested he might do so on the very same platform a few days earlier. If you ignore the questionable branding for one moment, in isolation there’s vague logic in the move. Musk wants Twitter to be a super app and the multiplier nature of an 'X' invites the sense of options in a way that a little blue bird does not.
However, rebrands like this need to be planned and carefully communicated - none of which has happened here. As such, it is unlikely that the internal loss of identity issues felt by staff will have been considered; nor the obvious market assumption that this is a knee-jerk reaction to Threads.
All-in-all, it may be a good idea but it's wrapped up in terrible timing and messaging.
Head of social at Wunderman Thompson Commerce and Technology
Rebranding Twitter as 'X' may be Elon Musk’s ticket to success, but it's also a huge gamble. Twitter is a recognised global brand and one wonders if the 'X' moniker will carry the same weight; brands thrive on awareness and the Twitter name has that in spades. It’s yet to be seen whether X will be able to command the same pull, both from an advertising campaign and audience retention perspective.
The upheaval isn't going unnoticed either. Musk's continuous tinkering with Twitter has caused frustration among its loyal users. The imposed limit on the number of tweets that can be read daily was met with ire from both users and marketers, sparking a boom for Threads to amass 100 million sign-ups
within five days of launch. We mustn’t forget the influence of established apps with Meta’s dominance evident, and shoppers preferring to shop via Facebook (27%) or Instagram (20%) over other channels.
With 67% of global shoppers
already turning to social media for purchases, and 53% intending to increase spending via these channels, Threads is in a prime position to capitalise on Twitter’s unpredictability. And as the era of social commerce develops, Threads may just steal the show.
Senior manager, search & social at M&C Saatchi Performance
Elon Musk has big ambitions for Twitter, and the decision to rebrand as ‘X’ can be seen as a signal of his plans to take Twitter from a standalone platform to a dominant digital business. The shift to become X opens doors for potential diversification within the company.
Having said that, the precise direction Twitter will take remains unclear, and perhaps rushed. It's possible that Twitter aims to emulate China's multi-functional WeChat app, offering users a comprehensive ‘super-app’ experience. Alternatively, Twitter could venture into a broader range of digital products, similar to Meta's strategy.
Leading with the name change, Musk is putting forward his confidence in Twitter's transformation. Whilst the past months have seen a plethora of changes for the platform, this rebrand may serve as a stepping stone to evolve into a multifaceted company, redefining its role in the ever-changing social media landscape – even if we inevitably keep calling it Twitter.
Social associate director at M&C Saatchi Talk
The rebrand to X is perhaps the most controversial change introduced by Musk since he bought Twitter last year. Having long spoken of his plan to turn Twitter into an ‘everything app’ modelled on WeChat, X will soon become a platform for every type of communication and even financial management.
Despite Twitter never coming close to reaching the user base of its competitors, it quickly created its own vernacular with its tweet and retweet set up. Users took to it, and it became part of modern culture. This update makes all that brand building a thing of the past. Tweets will become X’s, which doesn’t feel like it has the same potential to be part of culture.
Whether X is the next step in the future of social media or Musk’s own personal branding exercise will remain to be seen but as brands have already cut Twitter from their media budgets, this rebrand puts the platform’s future into even more danger.
While all eyes were on this update and the countless brand reactions (Channel 4’s being a personal favourite), TikTok announced a new text-based format. Another example of how platforms homogenize so quickly, whether users want them to or not.