Elon Musk's now infamous rebrand of the Twitter platform has received a roasting from the creative community and large portions of its user base, but will X mark the spot of Twitter's ultimate demise? And what does it say about the wider discipline of rebranding?
First of all, context is key. We are dealing with an eccentric, billionaire ego the size of the moon that Elon Musk is flying one of his rockets to. He courts controversy and likes to be seen to buck trends, so the furore around Twitter’s rebrand will most likely please him no end. At the time of writing, he has already updated the X logo and then changed it back again. The unceremonious dumping of the iconic Twitter identity and very public ‘rebrand’, seemingly done on a whim, feels like it’s being done to deliberately cause a stir.
It’s the blatant disregard for any kind of creative process that has got the design community in a twist. Launching a logo in isolation, without any thought given to comms or wider brand language, is a recipe for disaster. And design by committee is a sure-fire strategy for failure. We’re seeing a public rebrand being done on the fly.
If a good enough X logo is posted tonight, we’ll make go live worldwide tomorrow
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 23, 2023
The branding process is all about developing an identity that is built on the values and story of the organisation, cultivating a style and language that resonates with the intended audience. Rebranding represents an evolution of this identity, breaking new ground whilst retaining the equity around the existing brand. People form emotional attachments to brands, particularly ones that integrate with their daily routines. For many, Twitter has become a habitual space for them to follow world events and engage with a community. With Musk’s rebrand, we’re not being taken on a journey; we’re being asked to start a relationship from scratch. This is a risky strategy as it gives people the ideal opportunity to jump ship. And with the emergence of Threads, Meta has an alternative community ready and waiting. It also raises the issue of brands no longer seeing the platform as a safe place to market and there have already been some rumours of them struggling to retain advertisers, who themselves had bought in to the Twitter brand.
But, and it’s a big but, this is Elon Musk we’re talking about. And the mass exodus and destruction of the platform may be premature. You’re typical client doesn’t have millions of followers, or such a ready command of the media’s attention. So this may afford him the opportunity to take the dismissive approach. It’s also perfectly possible that Musk sees himself as the brand and believes that everyone will come along for the ride. He’s also stated that X will become an ‘everything app’ and the biggest financial system in the world, with payment, video and coin features. So perhaps he’s merely looking to leverage the community, albeit insensitively, to create an entirely different beast.
Twitter was acquired by X Corp both to ensure freedom of speech and as an accelerant for X, the everything app. This is not simply a company renaming itself, but doing the same thing. ” — Elon Musk
Maybe we’re all looking for logic where there is none. Or perhaps there is a big master plan that will reveal itself in time and we’ll all embrace the X ‘everything app’ once the full extent of its capabilities are made available to us. One thing is for certain and that is that Elon Musk is a unique case, which other brands would be wise not to follow when it comes to developing a new brand identity. Like us, I’m sure you’re fascinated to see how it all plays out.
Thinking of rebranding? Get in touch and we’ll be happy to discuss your project.