3 min. read

Twitter X is causing world-wide amnesia about branding

If the LinkedIn design thought-makers are to be believed, Elon Musk has just dismantled the Twitter brand, something that is–according to the experts–the biggest asset the company owns. But is this really where the brand equity exists? A bird that still looks like a boba tea kawaii mark, all bubbly and baby blue.

Let’s talk about that.

Sure, the Twitter bird holds a lot of brand equity… with 60-year-olds. But I don’t see anyone talking about why the name Twitter and the bird will help the company grow. In fact, most of the reasoning is coming from nostalgia. But we’re forgetting one big reason why it’s always good to do a rebrand:

To denote a big change in the company’s direction.

Imagine for a second that you’re only the oldest, most legacy social media platform there is. Imagine you’re watching your user growth only happen with users older than 40. Imagine that only 10% of your users are actually creating content, and every new product you roll out gets largely ignored by the young trend-makers because you are “that old thing called Twitter”. Imagine your user base is 70% male and not changing.

If you are on the inside and looking at this direction, you might see the brand is more of an albatross than an actual asset, while you see younger platforms like TikTok and Instagram soaking up the attention and future markets.

But if the brand isn’t the logo or the name, what is it?

The real asset that Twitter owns is the baked-in user behavior that guarantees logins every day despite a name change or a logo change. People don’t change habits easily. They want to do the same thing they’ve done. Read the same news. Connect to the same people. Get the same feeling. In the large scheme of things, a brand change is a blip on the radar.

So, at the end of one month from the rebrand: You WILL continue to use the app. You will NOT care about the logo. You will eventually LIKE the Logo. Maybe even love it. When you look at it–that sexy little X on your home screen–you’re going to get the same exact feeling that the bubble bird gave you. I promise you.

The bigger reason for the rebrand is a new scope

None of the talking heads on LinkedIn seems to be asking: what kind of direction might make the bird irrelevant? Even though Elon Musk has talked extensively about this, it doesn’t seem to come up in brand discussion. But there is a large untapped market out there for new products to be developed that go well beyond the idea of “tweeting” and simply posting a thought or the latest news. How does the bird/tweet brand make sense when launching a local marketplace like Facebook has? How about an AR headset? How about a phone?

Doesn’t this bird idea start to feel a little… I dunno. 2012?

Oh! And then there’s Elon’s other ventures. How does the bird fare in space? Don’t you think that Twitter should be capable of being mentioned in the same sentence with StarLink service without the creative brief damn near requiring a goofy bird astronaut? No no, silly. Birds don’t go to space. But X… That thing was born in space. Similarly, it’s not strange to see it ride along with the Tesla logo.

My point is, the X shift has a purpose. And it may be bland, but even its blandness might have a reason. It’s a semi-blank slate upon which a broader scope of development and integration with other ecosystems can happen.

And it’s smart.

😂 But hey, I get it. You hate Elon. That’s cool. But despite your personal feelings, one thing seems to be true: No one has made much money betting against Elon Musk.