Twitter Becomes X, And Breaks Its Brand

How many times have you asked someone for a Kleenex, when you really meant a facial tissue? How about a Band Aid when what you actually wanted was an adhesive bandage, or you thought you were getting into a Jacuzzi, but what you were really doing was lowering yourself into a bubbly hot tub? These are all examples of brands who’s names became a generic term. Even better, when a brand is so strong that it becomes a verb, as in “googling” something or someone. That’s what Twitter just gave up in its rebranding as X.

Twitter to X rebrand

Think about how powerful the Twitter brand is/was. It’s another one that’s been turned into a verb, as in you “tweet” someone or “retweet” a tweet that you like. Does it now make sense to read an “X” (as in post), or to “X” someone? It certainly can be taken multiple ways, which would never happen with the word “tweet.”

About as bad is the change in logo. The blue Twitter bird was made of round, unthreatening shapes. It’s open and inviting. The new X logo is dark and angular. It gives the subconscious impression of a skull and crossbones – which may be more appropriate for what the platform has become, but not exactly the feeling that you want to invoke in getting someone to post something personal or to advertise a product.

Twitter the company gave up 13 years of brand building in a blink of an eye. While that may not be as bad as the recent rebranding of HBO to Max, it’s pretty close.

Rebranding Can Be Useful

So what are the possible reasons for such a drastic rebrand?

  • The brand has reputational damage. While Twitter has certainly has gone downhill in that regard after the Elon Musk takeover, I never felt that the intrinsic brand was that severely damaged. There was still enough good will attached to it that it could have been rehabilitated.
  • You’re going after a new audience. Twitter (X) needs more users, and the user base was indeed flagging since the takeover. That doesn’t mean that a rebrand would immediately have potential users looking at it in a different way though. In fact, probably quite the opposite will happen.
  • Your branding doesn’t accurately tell your story. That may be true here, but X doesn’t portray much of a story either, and what it infers is rather negative.

An immediate downside of the rebrand is that X does not carry the same weight with advertisers. As a result, the company is now providing 50% discounts on ad packages in an effort to get more of them in the door, or keep them from abandoning the platform altogether. Price alone won’t be enough of an incentive though. An advertiser is buying eyeballs, and right now I don’t think that X can provide enough of them to be worthwhile to a major advertiser.

Considering the repercussions, you have to wonder whether there was any thought behind this rebrand or if it was just a knee-jerk reaction by its owner.

Regardless of the reason, this is one more reason why the platform will never thrive the way it could have. As long as it lasts, it will continue to be a mere shell of its former self.

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