The brand formerly known as Twitter | Rock Agency

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,, 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

Screenshot of Twitter signup page after rebranding to 'X' saying 'X, happening now. Join Twitter today.'

Elon says posts on X should now be called ‘x’s’, here’s an ‘x’ making some great points

Tweet from @ IamHappyToast saying 'Desktop is just hilarious. School kids have a better understanding of brand roll out.' with a screenshot of all the old branding, 'tweet' references and logos on the app after rebranding to X.

And another for the designers out there

Tweet from @RossFloate with the caption 'So we got centred, optically-centred, and left-aligned all in the one modal. It takes *work* to fuck something up this bad.' and a screenshot of the sign in page of Twitter/X

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 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 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.

Screenshot of GoDaddy website saying is parked free, courtesy of and a button saying 'get this domain'.

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.

Tweet from @briancgrubb with the caption 'obviously other issues at play here but also worth noting that it makes the whole building look like a nightclub owned by a goateed vampire with silver hoop earrings who is about to get murdered with a sword by Blade in his own VIP suite'. The attached image is of a very bright X sign on top of a building

Some final (funny) Tweets for your amusement

Tweet from @dinosaur_dapper saying 'Now that #Xitter is a thing, I’m just here to remind you that “X” in pinyin (the current standard for Latinizing Chinese) is pronounced like “sh.” What this implies for the pronunciation of Xitter, should be fairly obvious.'

Tweet from @BrentToderian with the caption 'Very clever - the German ad says "protect wildlife before it's too late."' with an image of the evolution of the Twitter logo and the most recent logo being the new X

Tweet from @IamHappyToast with the caption 'Oh I get it now, it’s a graph' and an image of the new X logo with 'Twitter' at the top of the y-axis and 'Threads' at the bottom of the y-axis indicating the downwards trajectory of Twitter and the upwards trajectory of Threads

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