The brand formerly known as Twitter
(Or, what not to do when a chaotic billionaire is in charge)
Each fortnight, one of the Rock Team shares their insights on a topic of interest. In the latest, Emily offered her thoughts on the Twitter rebrand and we decided others might also appreciate an overview – or catch-up – on what happened with Twitter, and why we now have X – the brand formerly known as Twitter.
When one of our key services is branding – the example of X offers a great (and comic) lesson in what not to do. And for anyone looking to understand the level of thought and consideration that goes into the rebranding process, there’s so much to gain from this bin-fire of a case study. Strap in.
A brief background for context
Elon Musk bought Twitter in 2022 for 44 BILLION DOLLARS.
Since then he’s been open about his aim to transform it into a “super app” – kind of like WeChat that’s predominant in China and expands from messaging into banking, shopping, and a full range of online activities.
He also has a persistent fascination with the letter X, one that he’s been entirely public about. His initial venture, X.com, eventually became PayPal following a merger. Then there’s his space exploration enterprise, SpaceX; his AI app, xAI; the Model X, a Tesla original; not to mention the name of his child: X Æ A-XII. And, in case you’re still wondering, he explained on the Joe Rogan Experience that the pronunciation of his son’s name is “just X, the letter X.” Does that help?
That brings us to X, the brand formerly known as Twitter. At this stage it’s just a name change – no new features have been introduced.
But, let’s be clear, a name change does not a rebrand make, and here’s where Elon seems to have missed that memo in his fixation with a letter of the alphabet.
X has an identity crisis
Such a significant rebrand typically demands considerable time and effort, which has clearly not been afforded to the X team. Want to see a few examples?
X is ‘Happening now’, but you can join Twitter today – one detail of too many
Elon says posts on X should now be called ‘x’s’, here’s an ‘x’ making some great points
And another for the designers out there
The height of inept rebranding
Design details are one thing, but compounding this travesty of a rebrand is a pivotal element to the transition: the X.com domain being only partially functional at the time of transition.
It should have been seamless, but supporting the idea that Musk made a rash and hasty decision was the fact that X.com was not fully working when the changeover was made. The DNS update failed to propagate for users and many were greeted with a GoDaddy domain name parking page.
But wait, there’s even more
The Twitter sign and the well-known blue bird logo was only partially removed from the headquarters building in San Francisco due to the absence of necessary permits. Consequently, the letters ‘er’ from the word ‘Twitter’ remained.
Meanwhile, an illuminated ‘X’ was installed on the roof of the building only to be taken down just days later after complaints about the unauthorised structure.
Some final (funny) Tweets for your amusement