Twitter's overnight rebrand sucks, here's why.


Written by

Martin Sully

Timeline of events:

4 June: Twitter announces they're limiting views.
6 June: Competitor Meta launches it's own version of Twitter - Threads and grows to 100M in 5 days.
23 June: Elon Musk runs a quick competition to find an X he likes, so it can be sent live the next day.
24 June: Twitter rebrands to X.

It's messy. Confusing even, but it does have a compelling story. We all want to see how this pans out.

Twitters Why

Twitter limited the views, to halt AI scraping it's data. But that felt like an excuse to increase prices and make money. Something they haven't been doing.

People left the platform as they didn't want to pay for access, and that snazzy blue tick. Frustration kicks in.

Twitter needed to work out why people use the platform, before raising any costs. People were there for information. Journalists used it to discover new stories and be kept up to date with events. They came away with knowledge.

When access became restricted (in a cost of living crisis), people boycotted the service to spend time elsewhere.

Time spent elsewhere means less time watching adverts on the Twitter platform, so ads were moved elsewhere. Advertisers are looking for ROI, and to do that they need eyeballs. Eyeballs lead to clicks. Clicks = purchases = ROI.

On the flipside of this backlash - it did create a heap of PR. The problem was it was generally damaging, but brand awareness grew.

With a bit of a strategy and a vision this could have gone down a different route and been seen as the first step towards Twitter reinvigorating itself. It could have been seen that they were limiting the views to give committed users extras, but even then this is a bit of a shady tactic. But arguably business models change.

My one biggest stumbling block for this first part is the acronym T=R+D.

Building Audience Trust

To build Trust with the audience, you need Reliability (or consistency), and find new ways to Delight, invigorate and get them talking about you to all their friends. Brands need superfans to rave about how awesome they are.

If you alienate your customers, and ignore their feelings, you are gonna start p*ssing people off.

I'm not gonna get into Threads, but for 100M+ users it was a delightful experience, sign up, add people you already know and start posting unhinged thoughts. There's no DM's, no ads, no spam. A refreshing experience, that will arguably change in the near future.

From a marketing perspective, Threads nailed it. And a lot of it was user generated content. They really didn't have to try to hard.


The next section is where the juice of this article lies.

We do know Musk's Twitter vision. To be an “everything” app called X. Where users can communicate, shop, consume entertainment and more.

But it's hard to say if they have strategically planned all these decisions.

Rebrands are huge strategic decisions to shift perceptions, rekindle feelings and build trust.

Rebranding Twitter to X

Where to begin.

I start every project with an audit, this gives us a clear understanding of where we are and where we want to go. And looks at verbal, visual, competitor and behavioural signals.

And this is where it takes a turn. Here's where they were in my opinion. To get a true representation, Twitters input would be essential.

Visually. Twitter is Larry the Bird. That blue bird is everywhere and reportedly the 16th most recognisable brand in the world.

Verbally. A high percentage of the global population understands what a tweet is. It's just part of our everyday language. But it's been losing ground (like many social media platforms).

Competitor. There's lots of social media platforms all vying for attention. It's a tough market, but they are well placed amongst the most well known platforms. Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Behaviour. Erratic, reactionary.

Visually and verbally, Twitter was strong. Competition is also strong, but a distinctive vision of where they want to go is there.

But behaviourally, culturally, we have a major problem. Pre-Musk there were 7,500 employees, Post, apparently there's around 1800 left.


Here's where they are now that they have rebranded.

Visually. They are a little bit all over the place. The new X logo is out there at the masthead of the website. But the App icon is the original bird. The colour palette is familiar, which isn't a bad thing, 80% of brand recognition, comes from a strong colour palette. You can also jump on the twitter website and download the old birdy icons for use on your website/marketing.

X carries so many connotations, it's unlimited creativity, X rated, X = No. It's hard to see an emotive connection to the letter X. Unless you're looking at it as a representation of a kiss. Then millennials will surely find it a little creepy.

Verbally. There's talk of reframing a tweet to an x. And it's too early to tell how they'll start using it in a tone of voice.

Competition. Threads is going strong, but in theory the vision to be an everything app will start setting them apart.

Behaviour. Crowdsourcing a logo isn't a brand identity, and the strategy behind the rollout has been laughable at best.


Eesh, where to begin.

First, a competition to find a logo that the owner likes is the single biggest reason that brands fail to hit the mark. It's not about you, it's about your target market.

People love that blue bird, and there could have been an evolution of the bird, the 2 wings, tail and head could be morphed into an X. It could even have the same flat dynamic.

Second, rebrands need to be taken strategically, with patience, consultation and research. This makes sure that the final results are cohesive, on-time, in budget and more importantly, they give you the platform to expand and grow from.

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