By Adam Taylor, Head of Marketing, IFZA
The iconic blue bird was the victim of the latest series of radical changes at the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. The app made headlines again as it rebranded from Twitter.com to X.com. The company claimed the move signifies its new focus on moving from a “microblogging” text app to creating a global platform for ideas, opportunities, and even financial services.
Rebranding can do wonders for a company if done right. However, there seem to be some plot holes in the transformation from Twitter.com to the enigmatic X.com. As your start-up navigates the path to success, here are some essential takeaways from Twitter's transformation that can guide you on what to do or even - what not to do.
Rebranding a well-established and iconic brand comes with inherent risks, especially at a time when rival apps such as the new Instagram Threads and smaller upstarts such as Bluesky are luring users. Humans are creatures of habit so naturally, users have grown accustomed to the name, logo, and overall identity of Twitter. Inconsistent branding can potentially alienate long-time users which can lead to a decrease in engagement and eventually cause advertisers to lose trust in the app. Before investing in ads, brands need clarity and the surety of a prolific ROI. However, the recent and rapid rebranding has triggered a lack of credibility in X’s future plans which has dampened advertisers' trust and willingness to confidently invest in X.
As witnessed in the case of Facebook's rebranding to Meta, such a move can lead to mixed reactions, and the public's perception of the company may shift. However, even though Facebook and Google went through significant name changes (Meta and Alphabet, respectively) they kept their core services' branding intact. This strategy allowed users to continue using their familiar platforms without disruption. In contrast, Twitter's move appears to be more radical as it affects the core services of the platform itself.
Currently, the choice of “X.com" suggests an emphasis on exploration and limitless possibilities. While that seems promising for the brand, it fails to resonate with the existing user base of the app who associate the brand with an intimate space to have real-time conversations and build a community. We can already see that this sudden switch left users perplexed, leading to widespread backlash and confusion on social media.
A rebranding should be controlled, careful, and customer-centric. Right now the platform risks losing brand recognition as users around the world hold reverence for the blue bird, and what it represents and it is unlikely that the ‘X’ will be able to compete, let alone surpass its popularity and global recognition. The lesson here for emerging startups and SMEs is understanding the significance of a holistic strategy that ensures brand consistency and is delivered by a compelling narrative when it comes to executing a company rebranding. Any significant changes should be introduced gradually, with careful consideration of customer perceptions and feedback.
Twitter's rebranding to X.com stands as a bold move that highlights the risks and challenges associated with significant brand changes. However, the social media platform has earned a massive following over the years so it might be able to afford to make these errors and recover its standing. On the other hand, startups might not have the same luxury to make crucial mistakes and retain their brand affinity.
X.com serves as a valuable case study and teaches entrepreneurs that rebranding should be user-centric. If your idea of a rebrand does not suit your end user, it needs to be reevaluated. As you continue to develop your business ensure to tread carefully when it comes to renewing your brand image as it can potentially make or break everything you have worked for.