While many companies have revamped their brands in recent years, Twitter’s rebranding by Elon Musk has been mocked and criticized on social media, with analysts suggesting the billionaire has shot himself in the foot.
Elon Musk wants to get rid of Twitter’s little blue birdThe instantly recognizable symbol of a social media platform is replacing with single “X” Which will also become the new name of the app.
The controversial billionaire is hardly the first business leader to decide that his company needs change. In 2021, social media giant Facebook transformed into Meta, a new identity that reflected owner Mark Zuckerberg’s ambitions for the Metaverse (a project that has since been called a flop).
Apple has changed its logo heavily over the decades of its existence, going from the rainbow-colored dome in the 1970s to the sleek, minimalist silver fruit on today’s laptops and smartphones.
Corporate rebranding is actually on the rise since the COVID-19 pandemic an upcity report A report published earlier this year said that 51% of businesses in the US changed their branding since the start of the global health emergency, as the disruption caused by the virus caused them to rethink their values and business models.
Why do companies rebrand themselves?
Peter Marshall, Director of Marketing, Rebranding is a must for smaller companies trying to break into a larger market. Add peopletold Euronews.
“You may realize that your business name doesn’t reflect your offering or that your service may change significantly in your first few years of operation,” he added.
“In these cases, refreshing your name and brand will help you communicate with new and existing customers.”
It is also important for companies looking to grow their business to a new level, he said, adding, “For example, if you are moving from local to national or if you are planning on franchising, these are developments that may call for a rethink of your brand.”
There are companies that choose to rebrand themselves after a merger to avoid one becoming more important than the other, such as in the case of ExxonMobil (born from the combination of Exxon and Mobil).
There are others who do this to avoid a PR disaster, such as when British Petroleum (BP) ineffectively spent $211 million to rename themselves “Beyond Petroleum” after the Deepwater Horizon crude oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but no one has forgotten the environmental disaster they were a part of.
In the case of Twitter, the rebranding of the app to X is a clear indication of the different direction Musk wants to take to the social media platform he acquired nine months ago.
Branding expert, CEO and co-chief strategist Nick Bailey said, “I think Musk is betting on the idea that people value the platform more for the quality and relevance of the discourse that happens there, rather than for the emotional connection with the brand.” future factortold Euronews.
“It is an aggressively definitive break from the past and the values and approach of the founders and early years of the platform. It’s also a bold FU for Zuckerberg, whose new threads feel like a return to the broken dream of the internet as a ‘friendlier’ place,” he said.
“If his bet goes his way, he will be able to say that he has proved wrong those whom he deride as naïve idealists – that in fact ‘radical free speech’ (hate speech included) is what people really want, not embracing brands they feel good about.”
Will Musk’s Rebranding Succeed – Or Fail?
Referring to the massive failure of the UK’s Royal Mail’s 2001 attempt to rebrand itself as “Consignia”, Marshall said, “Rebranding any business comes with risks, but rebranding a household name is a bigger challenge.”
“If you have an existing customer base, changing your brand may disrupt their engagement with your business,” he said. “A change in brand may also result in a loss of brand identity, as may be the case with ‘X’ as it struggles to lose the brand identity Twitter has built over the last 17 years.”
Marcus Collins, who ran social media for Beyoncé for more than a decade and is now a professor at the Ross School of Business in the US state of Michigan, told Euronews that the Twitter rebranding would not “change the downward trajectory” of the app since Musk’s acquisition.
“Unnecessary name and logo changes are more of a distraction than rebranding. Why? Because branding is about meaning,” he said.
He added, “X will still be seen as Twitter, just with a new name, not unlike Meta and Facebook — it’s the same thing.” “Changing the brand name from Facebook to Meta did not change the way we view Facebook or the meaning attached to it. […] I fear that to change this, Musk will have to do more than just change the name.
Bailey thinks Musk made a significant mistake by abandoning Twitter’s blue bird and years-old identity.
“Is Elon getting axed on his feet? Well, he’s doing some shooting,” he said. “Whether it is his own leg or someone else’s vital organs, it remains to be seen.”
But Musk has proven analysts wrong before and shouldn’t be underestimated, Bailey said.
He added, “There were many who confidently predicted Tesla’s demise and argued that it could never compete with established auto-makers, and yet its production figures this year beat forecasts.”
“Musk can afford to play the game for a long time, and although these decisions come across as foolish and poorly thought out, it is foolish to assume that there is no calculation involved.”