Bluebird Is X’d
Twitter has unveiled a brand new logo, marking the most significant visual change since Elon Musk took control of the social media company last fall. A stylized, black-and-white X has replaced the blue bird logo on the company’s website.
Twitter’s corporate accounts also adopted the new branding, which was projected onto the side of the company’s headquarters in San Francisco overnight.
Our headquarters tonight pic.twitter.com/GO6yY8R7fO
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 24, 2023
“X” is a term for what Musk has described as an “everything app” that could combine social media, instant messaging and payment services, akin to the popular Chinese app WeChat. He has said that buying Twitter is “an accelerant to creating X” and the corporate entity he created to purchase and control Twitter is called X Holdings. The font for X is called Blackboard Bold; it is reportedly an interim option until a new one is designed. Musk tweeted that the final version will be reworked and refined.
Musk has few barriers to making such alterations at the company after taking it private as part of his acquisition of the firm. But he could still encounter resistance from the banks that have lend him billions of dollars and the private investors he brought into the deal, who could raise concerns about losing one of Twitter’s most visible assets.
The consensus from branding experts and social media participants has been overwhelmingly negative and even dismissive: Musk is wasting a valuable asset and does not understand the power or role of a brand. For example, Reuters quotes Tom Morton, global chief strategy officer at ad agency R/GA. “Twitter’s changing name and logo has nothing to do with user, advertiser, or market issues. It’s a symbol that Twitter is Elon Musk’s personal property. He conquered the castle, now he’s flying his own flag.” Comedian Mark Watson caught the hostile mood: “To be fair if I’d done this much damage to a brand in under 12 months I’d also probably change the name and logo. But I’d also change MY name and face and walk into the sea.”
A somewhat different, and more positive, take comes from two creative leaders at WPP’s Design Bridge and Partners. Claire Huxley, Strategy Director, argues that “People are reacting to the X rebrand with skepticism, seeing it as yet another attention-seeking stunt from the controversial mogul. But is this fair? When viewed from a brand strategy lens, the move actually makes sense. Brand is a key tool for businesses to signal change, with the magnitude of the change required having a direct correlation to how much the brand transforms. There are 2 ways that Twitter is changing: The chat app has changed significantly from what it was pre-Musk, with a changing user-base, functionality and moderation policies and the business is now also slated to be changing into a super-app, ‘revolutionizing the global town square.’ Both of these changes signify a departure from the previous business strategy, which poses the Q: does Twitter’s existing brand have the sufficient stretch to reflect the business’s new reality and achieve its future ambitions? Launching a new product, updating for a modern age, inspiring a workforce can require an evolution e.g. a refreshed look and feel, modernized logo, new campaign messaging. Changing categories entirely, overwriting deeply embedded perceptions, requires a revolution e.g. a new name, totally new logo etc. Twitter is going through a revolution on all fronts, meaning that a dramatic brand shift is to be expected. The question going forward is whether they are ready to walk the talk and ensure it is more than skin-deep.”
Adds Ross Clugston CCO: “its always been pretty obvious that Musk didn’t acquire Twitter to keep it as is. If you look at any of his acquisitions or businesses they always have a clear, single minded purpose. Twitter never has. The step away from all the baggage, political and otherwise also makes sense. One would assume that he has a clear plan for how this social media platform can connect his products in some way, Starlink, SpaceX, traffic management with the Boring Company and Tesla. His bets are usually highly calculated and contrary to the media’s assumptions.”