top of page

X Marks The Spot: Twitter's Re-brand

By David Ginsburg, Digital Marketing Manager


Twitter has been many things over its 15-year lifespan: a digital watercooler; an indispensable source of breaking news; a real-time customer service portal; a platform for the most extreme voices of our political divide; and the hub for the Very Online to share memes, bust chops, and argue endless minutiae. In doing so, Twitter built an enviable brand, including the iconic bird logo and “tweet” becoming a verb. “Let me tweet that.” As an agency that specializes in building brands, this is an epic achievement. Or, it was an epic achievement. Until Elon.


You may have heard by now that Twitter, under Mr. Musk’s rather unique managerial style, has gone through some changes. Ending the legacy verification system, replatforming the most extreme—and toxic—voices, amplifying misinformation, and restrictions on data consumption has made Twitter a no-go for clients other than monitoring for customer service purposes. Twitter’s ad revenue is down 59% year over year. That $44 billion dollar purchase is now worth about $15 billion.

So what does Elon Musk do to turn the ship away from the iceberg he’s steered it into? He dumps the Twitter name and logo in favor of his long-held dream of an “everything app” called X. It’s intended to be the digital town square, entertainment district, shopping center, and financial institution all in one.

Does this rebranding to X resolve any of the major issues facing the platform? Not yet. Does it inspire confidence that this dynamic vision will become a reality soon?


Nope. As of this writing, it’s a desperation bid to shift perceptions without addressing any of the underlying causes of Twitter’s decline in the first place (read: the problem is Elon). Will agencies like Hollywood advise clients to invest in the platform as currently constructed? Also no. Is it too soon to write Twitter’s obituary? CNN doesn’t think so. But the patient is on life support...and hopefully not with one of Musk’s ventilators. Steve Saleeba, Hollywood Agency’s Vice President of Media Relations and a one-time power Twitter...er, X, user himself, weighs in:


Raise your hand if you’re not at all surprised by Musk’s decision to re-brand Twitter. The rebrand concept has long served as a go-to in the Silicon Valley tech company playbook.


Some have done it better than others, but it seems to be something all the cool kids are doing or have done as of late: Meta and Alphabet, for starters. While not as large, I’d be remiss not to mention Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey’s company, Block (formerly Square and probably best known as CashApp).


I’d let out an exaggerated yawn here, but look, a lot of times it works. Every new iteration of the iPhone that isn’t a major overhaul is essentially the equivalent of rebranding with a bigger number. Apple fans still line up every time there’s a new release.


It’s not just tech companies (see: Dunkin’) -- the examples are endless.


Wait... our agency used to be Hollywood PR?


As far as the case of Twitter goes, here’s my take:


What I love:


The nostalgia play and the h/t to history:Back in 1999, Elon Musk founded a bank called X.com that eventually merged and became Paypal. He once again owns the domain “X.com.”


Musk’s tweet that the “X” is to “embody the imperfections in us all that make us unique.”I did some scholarly research a few years back around social media sentiment following crises, and while I won’t bore you with details, the takeaway was that American society remains very forgiving of people and brands who act sorry, show remorse, acknowledge they make mistakes, and ask for forgiveness. Musk may or may not be hinting at that here.


What I hate:


Everything else. I think it’s putting lipstick on a pig. The best comparison I can think of: remember when Comcast rebranded as Xfinity? Sometime after the rebrand that started in 2010, Comcast was still ranking as THE worst company in America...multiple times. By definition, I was considered a “Twitter power user” for more than a decade. I’ve since left the platform almost entirely. To put it lightly, Twitter has gone a bit downhill on Musk’s watch. A rebrand can help breathe new life into an organization, but when the organization itself (or its governance and decision-making) is the problem, no amount

of renaming is going to help.

49 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page