Just when we thought we had seen all the eccentricity from our favourite tech billionaire, Elon Musk springs yet another surprise. Farewell to Twitter and its familiar bird, and hello to X. Got your attention, didn’t it? Here’s what’s behind Musk’s latest caper.
With a habit of raising more eyebrows than a horror film, Musk has kicked Twitter’s beloved bird logo to the curb, and the entire platform has been renamed X. This is just the latest in a string of bewildering moves since Musk shelled out $44 billion to take ownership of the social media giant, from staff shake-ups to content moderation makeovers, charging users for verification badges, and breathing life back into some not-so-beloved accounts.
But is this recent upheaval simply an attempt to steal some limelight from Meta’s Threads, or is there a master plan behind it all, hinting at a future shift in focus for the platform?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 25, 2023
Regardless, let’s just say not everyone’s thrilled about this sudden left turn. Some are left wondering why Musk would toss over a decade’s worth of brand awareness down the gutter, potentially jeopardising the credibility and trust it’s built over the years. Let’s wind back the clock a little.
Why Was it Called Twitter Anyway?
Once upon a time, the platform we now call Twitter was conceived as an SMS-based communication and microblogging service for sharing short, snappy updates.
Jack Dorsey’s (Twitter’s ex-CEO) team put their heads together to dream up a name that captured the essence of their service. According to Dorsey, they were after a name that evoked the feeling of excitement when something interesting happens and one that mirrored the brevity of the messages, limited to 140 characters at the start.
Candidates for the name included ‘twitch,’ ‘jitter,’ and ‘twitter.’ ‘Twitch’ was in the running for a while as it reflected the buzz a phone makes when receiving a message, aligning with the physical sensation they wanted to communicate. However, it didn’t exactly roll off the tongue when spoken aloud.
Then, as if by magic, team member Noah Glass stumbled upon “twitter” in the dictionary. The definition – “a short burst of inconsequential information” and “chirps from birds” – hit the nail on the head for the platform they were building. The team loved it, and the rest, they say, is history.
And so, “Twitter” was born, a term embodying the quick-fire nature of the messages and the fast-paced flow of information it facilitates. This perfectly coined term became a part of our everyday lingo, with “tweets,” “tweeting,” and “retweets” becoming the norm. However, this is all about to change as the social media platform loses its most recognisable asset—the bird logo.
So, Why the Letter “X”?
Everyone knows Elon Musk has a bit of a thing for the letter “X.” He even tweeted about it before the rebrand. We can’t quite tell if it’s an infatuation or an obsession, but he’s certainly partial to it when it comes to naming his ventures.
Not sure what subtle clues gave it way, but I like the letter X pic.twitter.com/nwB2tEfLr8
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 23, 2023
PayPal was initially called X.com before its 2002 merger with Confinity. SpaceX is short for Space Exploration Technologies. Musk also added the letter to Tesla – his luxury electric car business – with a model named Model X. His recent artificial intelligence start-up goes by xAI. And let’s not forget his son, X Æ A-12.
So, Musk deciding to rename Twitter as “X” shouldn’t really raise an eyebrow. This could be his way of creating a unified brand identity for his empire. Whatever his motives, this rebranding could be one of Musk’s most significant plays yet.
But, Why Rebrand Now?
Since Musk took the helm, it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for Twitter and its users. He’s been quite vocal about his dissatisfaction with the platform’s moderation policies and has hinted at his plans to change course. Here are a few possible reasons why he’s chosen to rebrand now:
1. Stiff Competition From Meta’s Threads
Meta recently launched Threads, a Twitter clone with similar features that raked millions of users within days. Given Meta’s track record and resources, Threads is likely to keep growing as it rolls out new features, piling on the pressure for Musk to up his game. This rebrand could be a ploy to turn heads.
2. Stirring the Pot
Musk isn’t known for shying away from controversy or criticism. In fact, he seems to revel in the attention such conversations garner, even if they lean toward the negative.
Frankly, I love the negative feedback on this platform. Vastly preferable to some sniffy censorship bureau!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 23, 2023
He’s notorious for dropping “bombshell” news during interviews or on social media. These surprising revelations often whip up a storm of media coverage and public debate, keeping Musk’s numerous ventures in the limelight.
The rebranding of Twitter to X is likely another case of Musk stirring things up. With this dramatic makeover of a well-loved platform, Musk ensures that X (formerly Twitter) stays the talk of the town, thus keeping its relevance in a progressively congested and competitive market. Even those disgruntled with the changes are indirectly adding to the buzz and piquing the interest of potential new users.
3. Charting a New Course
Since acquiring the platform, Musk has dropped several hints about morphing Twitter into a more comprehensive application, more than just a social media platform. Twitter’s CEO, Linda Yaccarino, talks about “creating a global marketplace for ideas.”
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
Musk envisions a “super app” that extends beyond its original mandate. This expanded platform could encompass features such as mobile payments, online shopping, video conferencing, and more, creating a one-stop digital hub to meet various user needs. Such an ambitious venture would certainly warrant a new identity, which might explain why the rebrand to “X” is happening.
Binning the old Twitter bird logo could symbolise a break from the old and the dawn of an exciting new chapter under Musk’s rule.
What’s Next for X?
There’s plenty of speculation about what’s to come. Will it pave the way for Meta’s Threads to seize more opportunities? Or will this turn out to be another one of Musk’s masterstrokes?
Perhaps the question we should all be asking ourselves is, was this an intelligent move, or dare we say, an ‘Xtelligent’ one? After all, Musk has shown us time and time again that he thrives on pushing boundaries and challenging norms.
However, in the constantly evolving digital landscape, nothing is ever certain. For all we know, X could be the beginning of a new era, heralding groundbreaking changes that will forever alter the face of social media. Alternatively, it could be the next T-Rex, heading swiftly towards eXtinction.
In true Musk fashion, there’s always an element of surprise. As we grapple with the loss of our beloved bird logo and adjust to tweeting or X-ing on X, one thing is clear: the future of this platform is bound to be anything but ordinary.
In the Unsettled Sea of Brands, Sail Strong With Xanda
Just as we’ve seen with X (formerly Twitter), brand identity is an ever-evolving, dynamic concept, and in the volatile world of digital media, it is essential to stay relevant and compelling. Could your brand benefit from a well-planned transition or a complete reinvention, similar to what we’re witnessing with X?
As London’s leading AI-powered digital web design and marketing agency, Xanda can help you navigate these challenging waters. Our expertise extends to web design, marketing, and brand development services that will ensure your brand sails smoothly amidst changing tides.
With the digital landscape constantly shifting beneath our feet, it’s crucial to anticipate changes, adapt, and reinvent. Xanda are here to ensure your brand’s evolution is not only timely but also resonates with your audience and aligns with your vision.
Are you ready to define or redefine your brand’s future? Contact us, and let us chart a course for your brand’s exciting evolution together!