Analysts believe that Tesla CEO Elon Musk is risking killing billions of dollars in brand value by turning Twitter into “X,” given that Twitter is one of the rare brands that has become so popular it turned into a verb as it is intertwined with everyday conversation. One marketing expert calls the rebrand “completely irrational from a business and brand point of view.”
On Saturday, Musk announced that Twitter and the famous bird logo would soon be scrapped, along with all associated words, including “tweet,” which has become so popular over the years that it turned into its own verb — a rare feat that only a few internet brands in the world have accomplished, such as Google, Uber, and Venmo.
And soon we shall bid adieu to the twitter brand and, gradually, all the birds
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 23, 2023
The next day, Twitter’s name changed to “X” —a move that analysts and brand agencies believe could wipe out somewhere between $4 billion and $20 billion in value, according to a report by TIME.
“It took 15-plus years to earn that much equity worldwide, so losing Twitter as a brand name is a significant financial hit,” Steve Susi, director of brand communication at Siegel & Gale, said.
Meanwhile, new Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino outlined the company’s vision for X to become a site “powered by AI,” and focused on audio, video, messaging, payments, and banking.
“It’s an exceptionally rare thing — in life or in business — that you get a second chance to make another big impression,” Yaccarino tweeted. “Twitter made one massive impression and changed the way we communicate. Now, X will go further, transforming the global town square.”
“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 added. “Powered by AI, X will connect us all in ways we’re just beginning to imagine.”
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
Then, on Monday morning, a black “X” logo was found in place of the iconic blue bird.
But analysts and brand agencies warn that it is a mistake to change the brand in such a dramatic way, TIME reported.
Todd Irwin, founder of brand agency Fazer, pointed out that Twitter is one of the most recognizable social media brands in the world, with bird decals adorning small businesses and websites around the globe, alongside the logos of its competitors, Instagram and Facebook.
Twitter has also become so popular over the years, that “tweet” and “retweet” are now verbs used in everyday language. So changing the brand’s name to X means the company would have to rebuild that type of linguistic consensus from scratch, such it might not be successful in doing.
Notably, other successful tech companies have renamed themselves in recent years. Google became Alphabet Inc., and Facebook became Meta, but the public has never changed its linguistic consensus with the brand name changes. People still say, “I will Google that” or “I will take to Facebook.”
Jasmine Enberg, an analyst with Insider Intelligence, noted that “Twitter’s corporate brand is already heavily intertwined with Musk’s personal brand, with or without the name X,” adding that “much of Twitter’s established brand equity has already been lost among users and advertisers.”
It’s “completely irrational from a business and brand point of view,” Allen Adamson, co-founder of the marketing and brand consulting group Metaforce, said, adding that this change was an “ego decision” on Musk’s part.
“To me, it’s going to go down in history as one of the fastest unwinding of a business and brand ever,” Adamson added.