Yesterday, Elon Musk and Linda Yaccarino, the owner and CEO of Twitter, respectively, announced that the company would be getting a new name, new design and new look and feel seemingly out of nowhere.
In one moment, Twitter was Twitter. It was the remnants of the site founded by Jack Dorsey and friends a little over 17 years ago. In the next moment, Twitter was no longer.
It was a big, bold marketing play from Musk — a tactical typical of his approach to running Tesla and SpaceX. There timing of the announcement certainly hinted that Musk might be looking to deflect attention away from Twitter’s flagging revenues and the launch of Threads.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 23, 2023
But, was it the right decision?
From a branding point of view, Jaid Hulsbosch, managing director of the eponymous branding agency, believes that this is all part of the Musk master plan.
“Communicating that X is going in a different direction, doing something new and is going to be re-established,” he said.
“You only do something like this, at this level, if you are going to significantly change your business offer, your proposition or what you’re going to offer to customers, shareholders and stakeholders.”
That Musk has wanted to change Twitter’s proposition was fairly widely known. As far back as October last year and just days after his takeover of the platform was confirmed, Musk said that he wanted to turn Twitter into an “everything” app that would allow users to make payments to businesses, do their banking and more.
But, as with many Musk announcements, details have been scant. Since announcing the change, Musk has been replying to the memes that his acolytes have sent him on the platform. Yaccarino has provided some extra information — though nothing concrete.
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. Powered by AI, X will connect us all in ways we’re just beginning to imagine.
— Linda Yaccarino (@lindayacc) July 23, 2023
“The first thing I’d want to know and understand is what the vision is for this business. Only then, can you advise on what to do, what’s right, and what’s wrong. What’s the best name? What’s the best look and feel?” said Hulsbosch.
“Without that level of detail, you can’t advise anything on the brand because the brand needs to be a representation of that vision.”
Of course, given the lack of a solid vision expressed by Twitter’s (sorry, X’s) top brass, Hulsbosch expressed a sneaking suspicion that all the brouhaha might simply be a way to wrest back column inches from Meta after it launched Threads earlier this month.
“Certainly they’ll be feeling it from Meta and what it has brought to the table. It could very well be an exercise in generating some talkability. Which, if that is the case, shit, he’s done that very well, hasn’t he? Everybody’s talking about it,” he said.
“But, then again, this might be part of his whole grandiose plan that he has been figuring out for the last few months. We just need to wait and see what happens next.”
There has been some planning in the works for years. Musk repurchased the x.com domain from PayPal six years ago. However, while purchasing a domain name was relatively easy, it seems that the South African businessman might have left some stones unturned.
In an act of the most delicious irony, Meta owns the “X” trademark for use in social media platforms. Microsoft has owned the trademark for “X” in video games and computer networks since 2002, a result of its Xbox products.
Regardless, the scale of the changes that Musk and Yaccarino announced has at least demonstrated that the platform formerly known as Twitter has been fundamentally changed.
“We’re not talking about an evolution of that brandmark, we’re not talking about what we did for Qantas with the kangaroo, we’re talking about what we did for Woolworths,” said Hulsbosch.
“It’s a massive statement to the market and for its people and shareholders. It’s very big, it’s very exciting. It’s the stuff that I live for.”
Users online have speculated that there have been other problems with the new branding.
These are all porn except one. That one’s Twitter. pic.twitter.com/VYUWOFsFTv
— Jesse McLaren (@McJesse) July 24, 2023
If you’re not sure which one is Musk’s site, it’s the black one with the red dot in the top right.
— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) July 24, 2023
With the logo being the unicode symbol, it means that Musk cannot copyright it. However, it also means that it can be used anywhere without fear of infringing someone else’s copyright.
Quite how this rebrand will play out is anyone’s guess. But it will certainly be an interesting watch.
Lead image credit: Elon Musk/ Twitter/ X
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