On July 23, 2023, Elon Musk posted a series of tweets announcing his plans to rebrand Twitter. The iconic blue bird so familiar to the site’s users would be gone, replaced by the letter ‘X’. It was the most dramatic change made to Twitter since Musk, the richest man on Earth, bought the site for 44 billion dollars in October 2022. The following day, the bird had finally flown away after a 17-year run, replaced with a stylised minimalist logo of the letter ‘X’.
Musk also announced that he was getting rid of “tweet” and every other word associated with the old site.
The billionaire owner of SpaceX has many more changes in mind, having announced plans to turn the microblogging social site into an “everything app” for financial and business services such as loans, credit cards and investments.
It was a bold move. Twitter’s value had already plunged to 66% in March, losing billions of dollars since Musk’s takeover. Many have pointed out that the bird logo is one of the most recognisable logos on the Internet. ‘X’, by contrast, is commonly used yet still evokes a sense of mystery, associated with the likes of buried treasure and ‘The X Files’.
While it’s still early days for X, it’s worth asking if the rebrand has so far been a success, how it will affect other businesses, and if there are any lessons that brands can take from it.
What is a Brand Rebrand?
Rebranding is the act of creating a new brand identity by introducing a new name, logo or design. There’s always an element of risk involved in a rebrand, especially if you’re well-established, but there are times when it’s a smart decision. If you’re merging with another company, radically changing your philosophy or approach, seeking new demographics or moving into an international market, these are all situations in which you can use rebranding to your favour.
Changing your logo is one of the most common forms of rebranding and is possibly Musk’s most talked-about move in the transformation of Twitter to X. Other tasks involved in a rebrand include creating a new unique selling proposition (USP), brand voice and advertisements.
Was Twitter’s Rebrand a Success?
While the long-term effects of the Twitter/X rebrand have yet to be seen, so far, it has cost the company billions, been roundly criticised by experts and proven unpopular with users.
Australian Financial Review reported that according to brand agencies and analysts, the move wiped out somewhere between $US4 billion and $US20 billion dollars worth of value.
A Forrester poll showed that 43% of people thought changing the name from Twitter to X was a mistake, while YouGov revealed 67% of users reacted to the rebrand negatively.
While Musk has championed X as a place where censorship doesn’t get in the way of free speech, users have been leaving in the hundreds of thousands. New Meta app Threads, Instagram’s text-based app, has posed a further challenge to X, reaching 100 million new users the week of its launch before slowing down.
Forbes writer Marcus Collins has called Twitter’s rebrand “a cautionary lesson for marketers”. As his article points out, many companies spend years and vast sums of money trying to achieve the same brand identifiability and recognition that Twitter already possessed. But recognition isn’t enough; brands also have to be meaningful. While Twitter’s identity has changed, the site fundamentally has not. Collins puts out that if the exterior appearance changes but the meanings that underpin the brand don’t shift, you have half a rebrand. Or, in this case, a diversion.
While the future is unknown, many currently see this as the end of Twitter rather than the beginning of something fresh. Your brand is what your company means to people. If public perception is out of step with what you intend to achieve, a simple rebrand won’t solve your problems.
The Impacts of Twitter’s Rebrand
The Twitter rebrand comes with some potential effects for marketers and those who use social media in their professions. Changes may include:
Insider Intelligence predicted that Twitter will lose more than 32 million users by 2024. Brands that use Twitter for social media marketing and to communicate with the public will have to adapt to this challenge in order to keep finding new customers.
Impact on SEO
If “Twitter” was a common keyword in your content, you may have to adjust your search engine optimisation strategy in order to keep ranking and winning fresh eyes to your site.
Fresh marketing opportunities
Elon Musk has announced that Twitter will soon start paying verified content creators to feature ads in their replies. Some marketers have seen this as a fresh opportunity for revenue and the X platform as a space for new content, especially visual content.
How to Rebrand Successfully
There’s a lot that brands can learn not only from the Twitter case but from the many examples of companies considered to have rebranded successfully: Meta, Subway, Dominos, Starbucks, Dunkin’, Burberry – the list goes on.
While there are no shortcuts to a successful rebrand, here are some tips based on these successful examples for when you decide it’s time for a new approach:
Make sure the brand connects with your target audience
Fundamentally, it’s all about who you want to reach and whether your new identity resonates with them. Strategising, researching and planning go a long way towards helping you maintain your existing customer base while attracting new business.
Communicate with your audience during the process
If your audience can’t see a good reason for you to rebrand, they may lose trust in you. It’s best to have clearly defined reasons for the changes that your team can communicate to the public with consistency during the rebranding process.
Publicise the rebrand
Rather than dropping a radical new look on customers out of seemingly nowhere, prepare the public and your existing customers well in advance through measures like press releases and social media posts.
Play to your strengths
Dunkin’ Donuts’ rebrand to Dunkin’ was successful because although the new name no longer mentioned their main product (a risky move), they focused on another popular product, their coffee, and emphasised the fact that they sell a lot more than just doughnuts. Keeping the same typography, colour palette, etc., but emphasising a wider range of products made the brand feel more expansive. Don’t feel like doughnuts? There’s something for everyone at Dunkin’.
Partner with public figures
Clothing brand Burberry changed its public image when it made Emma Watson the face of their 2009 campaign. Watson brought a timeless elegance to a brand that had been previously known for its street-style clothes. Partnering with the right actor, influencer, or sports star can alter its cultural connotations in a big way.
Keep what’s working
Make sure the public understands that the things they love most about your business will remain. When McDonald’s introduced the McCafe in 1993, they made it clear their Big Macs and Happy Meals weren’t going anywhere. But now, adults who had grown up on their food could take their own kids to McDonald’s and enjoy coffee in a classy café-style environment.
Keep it simple
You don’t always need an extensive rebrand to make significant changes to your identity. By going from ‘Starbucks Coffee’ to just ‘Starbucks’ and changing a couple of things about its logo, the coffee chain was able to show the world it offered a lot more than just coffee. Sometimes small and subtle changes can be the most effective.
Rebrand Your Business with Anchor
Are you an established business looking to rebrand or perhaps in need of a new image as you move into new markets and locations? As a full-service creative marketing agency, the Anchor team are expert at brand identity and communication.
We’ll help you develop an authentic brand identity that truly reflects the products and services you offer, differentiating you from your competition in positive ways and making sure your product, user experience and brand identity are aligned.
Anchor will work with you through every stage of the branding process: research into your target market, development of your brand design and assets, a powerful new logo, and the development of a new tone of voice and means of communication.
Drop us a line for a rebranding strategy that suits your goals and steers you to greater success.