Billionaire Elon Musk is set to make his biggest change yet to social networking platform Twitter as he looks to change its name to 'X' and remove the iconic blue bird logo. Musk announced the change on 23 July saying that soon, we shall "bid adieu" to the Twitter brand and, gradually "all the birds".
“Interim X logo goes live later today,” Musk said in a tweet. He added that now, the domain X.com will lead to Twitter's website. Twitter's new CEO, Linda Yaccarino added on by saying that it is an "exceptionally rare thing" in life or in business to get a second chance to make another big impression.
Twitter made one massive impression and changed the way we communicate. Now, X will go further, transforming the global town square.
Adding on, Yaccarino noted that X is the "future state of unlimited interactivity centered in audio, video, messaging, payments/banking – creating a global marketplace for ideas, goods, services, and opportunities." She also revealed that x will be powered by AI.
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There’s absolutely no limit to this transformation. X will be the platform that can deliver, well….everything.
The news comes shortly after Musk revealed that the social media platform has seen a 50% drop in advertising revenue along with a heavy debt load resulting in a negative cash flow, according to a tweet by the billionaire.
"Need to reach [a] positive cash flow before we have the luxury of anything else," Musk added in his tweet. He was responding to a tweet by a user suggesting that he gets a consortium together who understands his vision for the platform. The user suggested that Musk get the consortium to buy the debt and to then do a tender or exchange offer for convertible notes with more favorable terms.
Musk added that while it did not see the increase in advertising revenue that was expected in June, that "July is a bit more promising".
The significant redirection of Twitter is certainly one to watch especially as Musk looks to lure advertisers and consumers back to the platform. But could the rebrand really make a difference?
It would appear that adland players are still skeptical. Don Anderson, CEO of Kaddadle noted that he does not believe that the name and logo change is going to make that much of a difference to users, who are most likely more interested in increased stability of the platform in terms of how features are introduced and maintained.
"For example, the Twitter Blue subscription option, which has endured various iterations and changes since Musk took over, has left many users, key influencers and creators, and brand marketers confused about its value and continuity," said Anderson.
He added that usually, with a name and logo change, there is a bit of a buildup and proper communications plan around it. "That seems to be absent here – like all things Musk, it just came out of the blue from his Twitter account over the weekend," he said.
He added that a clearly communicated short and long-term strategy is most critical, and at this point, it seems like that simply doesn’t exist.
"All eyes are on the leadership change of Linda Yaccarino coming in as the new CEO, and what that will mean to the stability of the platform, and just how much Musk will continue to be involved. Until that is sorted, I believe users and advertisers will continue to remain skeptical," he said.
True enough, integrated intelligence platform Truescope found that the announcement of the rebrand was met with a predominant proportion of neutral sentiments at 90%.
"This can be attributed to a certain level of skepticism among individuals when it comes to adopting an all-encompassing application, as well as the potential impact of this announcement on a significant Federal Reserve policy decision," said a spokesperson at Truescope.
Media intelligence company CARMA added on by noting that the rebrand has been criticised by many users, with some calling it "the single worst rebrand in the history of rebrands". A spokesperson added that it only saw 12.7% positive reactions online regarding news of the rebrand.
"Advertisers are typically most sensitive to brand safety and user and creator feedback and engagement on social media platforms. They look for continuity and a clearly communicated strategy, which seems to be absent at this point," said Anderson, adding:
Until Musk and Yaccarino fully stabilise the business and its positioning, advertiser trust will continue to wane.
Creating brand recall
Anderson additionally added that creating brand recall is very important for the success of a platform and that the new 'X' may not be able to achieve that as well as Twitter was.
"There’s no question that the Twitter brand is a bit dated – its relevance was in question well before Musk’s acquisition. But the choice of ‘X’ is somewhat confusing," said Anderson.
"The name ‘Twitter’ yielded social significance because it is something you would do – it was associated with an action, a social activity. You ‘Tweet’," he said, adding:
How is ‘X’ going to carry over into the context of our social discourse or lexicon? Hard to say at this point.
Anderson noted that even Threads, while new, has a better ring to the name.
Interestingly enough, managing director for Truescope, Kelvin Koh noted that while the overall volume of interest for Threads, which had been waning over the last two weeks after its initial euphoria lifted over the last few hours thanks to Musk’s announcement.
"Even with this lift, Truescope’s data still shows a 94% verses 6% share of voice (SOV) split in favour of X (Twitter) over Threads over the last 24 hours,” he said.
Agreeing with Anderson, Forrester's VP of research director Mike Proulx said: “By changing Twitter’s app name, Musk will have singlehandedly wiped out over fifteen years of a brand name that has secured its place in our cultural lexicon. This is an extremely risky move because with ‘X,’ Musk is essentially starting over while its competition is afoot."
True enough, a disregard of distinctive assets could be the death knell of Twitter, according to Ambrish Chaudhry, head of strategy, SEA and India, Design Bridge and Partners. "The Twitter name and the bird are some of the most recognised symbols in the world. There is a lot of user affinity and engagement with them. Tossing them out for something quite generic is really throwing the baby out with the bath water," he said.
"The entire rebrand has been thrust on customers. It doesn’t respect their sensitivity and love for the Twitter brand. The message is 'you can’t have what you like' as opposed to 'we’re taking what you like and making it even better'. Never a strong recipe for success to make users feel like hostages," he said.
The potential for success
Saying that, all hope is not lost. Ranganathan Somanathan, the co-founder of RSquared Global Ventures noted that with a long-term view and the right people to execute the strategy, it might be able to create value beyond what Twitter could achieve on its own merit.
"Twitter had its unique equity and recognition. However, leading up to the acquisition and even after that, the brand took a beating. If efforts are to be taken to build trust, if done properly, X, with its enhanced capabilities, might be a second lease of life to the business, if not the brand," Somanathan said.
He added that advertisers move where the audience go. As such, building advertiser trust will be a function of audience uptake, engagement with the X platform and measurable effectiveness of their investments. "The jury is out on that for now, " he concluded.
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