What You Need to Know About the Twitter to X Rebrand

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Over the weekend, Elon Musk created a groundswell of speculation and debate when he announced via a Tweet … er … an “X” that the 20-year Twitter brand and iconic blue bird logo now goes by a new name. The post exclaimed the company that Musk purchased in late 2022 is now called X, with a new logo taking the shape of a unicode X.

Public sentiment to the sudden announcement ranged from shock to disdain to the same coarse amusement that one would take from watching the implosion of an outdated stadium, even though you had great memories. (Looking at you, Pontiac Silverdome.) From an extreme perspective, investors dropped stock in the company, and the value plummeted.

Musk’s move to rebrand Twitter to X raised many questions. What does this mean? Is this the death of Twitter? Was Twitter just a toy for Musk? Will X have any future impact?

As a full-service agency delivering a full range of complete and comprehensive communications services, we desire to go beyond the initial reaction and dive into specific questions related to your integrated communications and marketing efforts.

Let’s dive in with some of these key questions with answers from some of our team member’s subject matter expertise.

Q: Does Elon Musk have a strategy for X?

A: “Shortly after the announcement from Musk, Linda Yaccarino, the chief executive officer for the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, posted the following: the goal is to ‘transform the global town square.’ In other words, the series of enigmatic moves from Musk and the company seemed to point toward utilizing the platform to create a version of the Chinese app WeChat.

As an all-in-one app that combines messaging and the ability to make in-app purchases, WeChat is widely successful in China. The holy grail for North American marketers is an app where social commerce is frictionless, that is, the ability to purchase directly within the wall gardens of the social media platform without ever having to leave. While accepted in China, social commerce lacks adoption, with TikTok, Meta and Snap dipping their collective toes in the water.

No one can ever accuse Musk of thinking too small. He has lofty goals for X and seems focused on the long term, even at the expense of the short term.” — James Royer, director of integrated marketing

Q: What are the implications a brand should assess when changing a brand, whether it be a name, logo, or an entire brand?

A: “When rebranding, companies should assess the thrust behind doing so. There a many reasons why a company might consider rebranding, but each one should be carefully thought out. 

These are just a few reasons you might consider rebranding

  1. That your brand is outdated. A simple refresh can bring new vitality to your logo.
  2. Your company has changed its name. There are many reasons for a name change, so be careful in considering whether it’s the right time.
  3. Your company logo no longer matches your brand personality.
  4. Your company has been or is dealing with some negative press.
  5. Your company’s service offering or mission has changed.

Don’t consider a rebrand just because you’re bored with the current brand. Think about the marketing equity your brand has established. Once you’ve changed your name, in some cases, you’re starting all over again — especially if you don’t have a good communications strategy in place.” — Jennifer Stevens, vice president of creative and digital services

Q: How long can a brand refresh take?

A: “This depends on the needs of your business and how large your company is. For smaller businesses, a rebranding strategy could take three to six months. For larger businesses, a rebrand could take up to a year. It all depends on how many assets your company has and your communications plan during the launch.” ‌— Jennifer Stevens, vice president of creative and digital services

Q: The change could affect how content is distributed or displayed, and, as a result, content creators and influencers may see shifts in their reach and engagement metrics. How will this affect influencer programs?

A: “We have to tackle this question in three interconnected ways: the creator economy, the scale of X as an advertising platform and the platform’s potential audience reach. Let’s start with the last item on the list.

  1. X’s potential audience reach: Preceeding the name change to X was another mercurial move from Musk and company in limiting the number of posts a user could access daily. Right after the announcement, Mark Zuckerberg launched Threads, a Twitter-like platform to take its place among the Meta family of platforms that includes Facebook and Instagram. While opening the doors for competitors, including Threads and Mastodon, this move limited publishers’ reach on X. That leads us to the second point.

  2. The creator economy: A primary driver of any social platform is content creators and their use to reach new and retained audiences. Limiting reach handcuffs the content creator and advertisers because the audience is lower and yields less impact. While Twitter never was the epicenter for content creators, it did allow for mass reach. Here is another perspective, a recent study revealed users of TikTok averaged between 31 and 32 minutes on the platform per day. TikTok’s algorithm optimizes content creators by keeping users on the site engaged. They could only achieve those numbers with content creators providing a core fundamental commodity in entertainment. When Snapchat alienated and lost its creator economy, it never fully recovered, even after offering cash rewards.

  3. Twitter’s economy of scale for advertising: Before the renaming to X, Musk’s influence caused a 19.8% decline in ad reach. That is 92 million fewer users. Less reach and impressions are problematic, and with less engaging and entertaining content to keep users returning and staying on the platform, X no longer holds the same appeal as competing platforms. 

Ultimately, influencers won’t remain on the platform, which translates to less usage in influencer campaigns.” — James Royer, director of integrated marketing

Q: The method with which Elon Musk executed this change was certainly a break from convention. This approach seemingly employs a technique called “unhinged marketing.” A quick look at the media coverage, and it is easy to see the move is generating attention. When is an unhinged communication approach warranted to gaining attention and awareness, even when that coverage may not be the most positive?

A: “‘Unhinged marketing’ reminds me of P.T. Barnum’s famous quote: ‘There’s no such thing as bad publicity.’

Well, actually — yes, there is. Bad publicity has caused sales to plummet, stock prices to tank and ended presidential campaigns. Adopting an unhinged strategy on social media can bring eyeballs and gain fans, but this approach can also alienate others. The question becomes — does the benefit outweigh the risks?

There’s not a single or simple answer. While the rise of this strategy can partially be attributed to our current state of divisiveness — anything will offend someone! — companies and brands should still proceed with caution.

Is an unhinged strategy right for you? Here are a few questions to ask before moving forward.

  • Do I have a solid understanding of how my core audience will react? While Bud Light’s recent work with Dylan Mulvaney may not be considered unhinged per se, the company certainly misjudged how many of its supporters would react. Sales declined dramatically, the stock plummeted and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis even called for an investigation (honestly, I was never really clear how a questionable marketing decision deserves an attorney general investigation, but it happened). A truly unhinged campaign could easily generate similar results.

  • Does this strategy fit with my overall strategy? If your company is known and liked for being irreverent and off-the-wall, you’re likely on more solid footing than a company that has carefully curated a decades-long history of conservative predictability. Consumers may love to see their favorite sneaker brand start an online dust-up but maybe not so much their bank.

  • What’s the plan if a controlled burn becomes a raging wildfire? Just because your plan might be to fire a few shots and then return to your regularly scheduled programming, the internet might have something different in mind. Twitter (X, I guess?) has a long-running tradition of grabbing a tweet (a Xeet?) from a couple of years ago and reposting it with a simple, ‘Well, this didn’t age well.’ If things get out of control, simply removing posts won’t extinguish the fire, so be prepared for a plan to fix a crisis that may be your own making.

The best approach may be to loosen a couple of screws and then watch the reaction before you tear down the entire door.— Doyle Albee, president and CEO

As we mentioned earlier, Musk has some plans for the platform — even if his actions seem erratic. We should expect to see X stripped down before it’s rebuilt. Musk is pulling from the Lego show of Ninjago in helping Twitter find “its true potential” in the form of X. It will take some time to get there, and judging from Musk’s other ventures, we won’t count him out. But it will be worth watching to see the vision take shape.

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