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Since Elon Musk acquired Twitter in October of last year for a modest $44 billion, he has terminated approximately 80% of its staff and introduced different changes to the platform that have been good and some controversial.
About a month ago, he announced limitations on the number of posts and DMs within the platform, primarily targeting users without the blue verification mark.
However, this time, after a mysterious series of tweets on Sunday night, Musk revealed on his own social network that Twitter is rebranding as “X.” He then unveiled the new logo, featuring a black and white “X” instead of the old “blue bird.
Reasons And Motivations Behind Twitter’s Rebranding
Elon Musk has been talking about his intention to create what he calls an “everything app” for quite some time now. When he acquired Twitter, he tweeted (am not sure if “tweeted” is still valid) from his account: “Buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app.”
He was proposing something similar to the Chinese WeChat, where users can not only find entertainment but also make purchases and conduct other financial transactions.
According to Walter Isaacson, who has been writing Elon Musk’s biography even before the Twitter acquisition, Musk texted him, saying, “I am very excited about finally implementing X.com as it should have been done, using Twitter as an accelerant!”
But why replace the brand name? Why remove the bird logo?
Isaacson also recalled that in the early 2000s, Musk had already intended to use the “X.com” brand for what later became PayPal, but he failed to convince his investors at that time.
Nevertheless, Musk reinforced his mysterious desire to use the letter “X” in one of his brands. In 2002, he named his aerospace company SpaceX.
As usual, Musk clarified this to Twitter users (now already known as “X”):
“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.
The Twitter name made sense when it was just 140 character messages going back and forth – like birds tweeting – but now you can post almost anything, including several hours of video.
In the months to come, we will add comprehensive communications and the ability to conduct your entire financial world. The Twitter name does not make sense in that context, so we must bid adieu to the bird.”
Linda Yaccarino, the recently hired CEO of Twitter (now X), further added, “X is the future state of unlimited interactivity – centered on audio, video, messaging, payments/banking – creating a global marketplace for ideas, goods, services, and opportunities. Powered by AI, X will connect us all in ways we’re just beginning to imagine.”
What Are Experts Saying About Twitter Rebranding?
Since Musk announced the rebranding, many marketing experts have criticized the decision. Some of them are adamant that the move would be a big mistake. Let’s take a look at some of these opinions:
- Becci Salmon, design director at IPG-owned ad agency FCB London: According to The Drum, Salmon says “There’s a lot to be said for brand equity – Twitter’s reputation and recognizability weren’t created overnight,” and. “Twitter, tweets, tweeting – it’s all part of the vernacular, a familiarity that’s been built up over 17 years. [Musk is] ripping down a brand that’s been a cornerstone of social media … my gut reaction was that this is something only a billionaire on an ego trip would do.”
- Mike Proulx, research director and VP of Forrester: “While Musk’s vision is to turn ‘X’ into an ‘everything app,’ this takes time, money, and people -— three things that the company no longer has,” and also added Musk “will have singlehandedly wiped out over fifteen years of a brand name that has secured its place in our cultural lexicon,”
- Richard Michie, CEO and founder of The Marketing Optimist: Michie called the rebrand “absolute marketing suicide” and said that “Elon Musk has been giving a masterclass in how to kill a brand with death by a thousand cuts.”
- Mark Ritson, Ph.D. in Marketing and former professor in MBA programs of leading business schools including London Business School and MIT: Ritson wrote an article for MarketingWeek listing “12 reasons why Twitter’s rebrand to X is a mistake” and said “He is making these decisions alone. Running naked through the night. Fuelled by ego and a trenchant desire to make his mistaken acquisition a success.”
What Does This Rebranding Mean To Marketers And Companies?
A little over two weeks ago, Musk himself tweeted, “We’re still negative cash flow, due to ~50% drop in advertising revenue plus heavy debt load. Need to reach positive cash flow before we have the luxury of anything else,” responding to users’ recapitalization suggestions.
But what could be causing this uncertainty among advertisers?
A survey by the Pew Research Center, published in May, provides some data on the behavior of American users on the platform that concerns marketing professionals about the platform’s potential. It’s worth noting that the United States ranks number 1 in the number of users on Twitter.
The Pew Research Center survey highlights two main points:
- Those who used Twitter in the last year reported taking a break from the platform during that time.
- A quarter says they are not very or not at all likely to be on Twitter a year from now.
The fact is that with people considering leaving the platform, companies are hesitant to invest in advertising on Twitter. In an attempt to address this, it seems like billionaire Musk’s social network has been taking some quick actions.
For example, shortly before the rebranding announcement, Musk posted that a monetization plan will be available to anyone who joins the verified account.
This means that users will have a chance to earn money from ads on their profiles, as long as they pay for having a verified account.
X.com’s Uncertain Future
It seems to me that now X.com is still making a desperate attempt to keep the “two birds in the hand.”
With this, the company assumes a position of attracting both users of verified (paid) accounts, making membership more attractive, especially for content creators, and, consequently, more investment by advertisers in the platform.
In the midst of all this, other social networks may benefit from the moment and gain the attention of advertisers, including the recently launched Threads.
After experiencing a significant drop in active users recently, the rival app created by Meta and integrated with Instagram has a great chance of growing again amid the crisis experienced by what is now known as “X”.
In a nutshell, the road ahead for X.com remains uncertain. The choices they make in the coming months will decide if they can hold their ground in the cutthroat social media world, or if their competitors will seize the moment and gain an edge. So, stay tuned to see how this all plays out!