Having the vision to mass produce the world’s first luxury electric vehicle was without question risky in nature. But making this vision become a reality is truly impressive. The same is true of SpaceX and is ability routinely perform dozens of space missions and do so economically. And the world is still waiting to see what NeuraLink has in store for us, especially in these days of AI advancement. But despite these incredibly ingenious endeavors, many are quite perplexed when it comes to his handling of Twitter. And with its recent Twitter rebranding with a new X logo, the confusion is only growing.
Last fall, Musk purchased Twitter for a surprising sum of $44 billion. Since that time, he has made several changes to the platform, many of which has turned advertisers away. User verification is no longer necessarily free for prominent users. There is also a subscription fee for those who use Twitter and don’t go through a verification process. And Musk’s perspective on free speech and the changes this has brought also raise concerns among some. These shifts have not only persuaded users to seek other alternatives, but it has made a huge dent in Twitter’s advertising revenues. Because of this, it’s fair to ask if the recent Twitter rebranding to the new X logo will hurt the company even more. Or perhaps, it might just be another one of Musk’s strategic ploys to come out on top once again.
“Killing an iconic Internet brand is ‘extremely risky’ at a time when rival apps such as the new Instagram Threads and smaller upstarts such as Bluesky are luring users [away].” – Mike Proulx, Analyst at Forrester
Twitter Rebranding Risks
The Twitter rebranding strategy should not be surprising to those who follow Musk’s Tweets regularly. Since his initial purchase of Twitter, he has described the move as a necessary step in advancing his vision. Specifically, he hopes to expand the Twitter platform to include much more than instant messaging and posts. Instead, he wants to create an “everything app” that will be denoted by the new X logo. That means the iconic blue bird of Twitter will be no more and neither will the term Tweets. And in its place will lie a new X platform that does much, much more. This has been Musk’s vision all along.
While Musk’s move to replace Twitter’s branding with the new X logo is consistent with his vision, it’s still risky. After all, Musk didn’t just buy the company for $44 billion as an accelerant to a new social media offering. The extremely high price tag was somewhat supported by its ad revenues and number of users. In other words, Twitter’s brand had tremendous value… or at least it did before Musk took charge. Since his buyout, Twitter’s ad revenues have dropped 50%, and hundreds of thousands have jumped ship to Bluesky, Megalodon, and Threads. Thus, it’s clear that a sudden Twitter rebranding could be catastrophic. This is particularly true when serious resources are needed to expand the platform the way Musk wants.
“The rebrand will ‘start to look a bit smart’ if X quickly starts adding features that were completely absent on Twitter. But if it’s basically Twitter with no radically new non-tweet type features like banking or mobile payments, then I think then I think it starts to look like a real branding dud.” – Sam Ashken, Senior Strategy Director at Interbrand
If You Made a Car That Could Fly, Would You Still Call It a Car?
What does Musk intend to include in his super app represented by the new X logo? For the most part, he hopes to create something similar to the WeChat app popular in Asia. As such, an X app would not only provide social media and instant messaging features. But it would also include options to purchase goods and services as well as entertainment. Musk also plans to provide payment services through such an app. These features would make it quite distinct from Twitter, which is why he may have supported the Twitter rebranding. After all, if you made a car that could fly, would it be fair to still call it a car?
One of the reasons Musk may have made the recent choices he did relates to his fondness of the letter X itself. In 1999, he founded the company X.com, which went onto merge with another startup to form PayPal. This alone supports his desire to advance the social media app to include payment services. In addition, his space company contains the well-known capitalized X at the end. And the corporation that was formed to purchase Twitter was X Holdings. For whatever reason, Musk likes this letter, which explains why the new X logo represents his current endeavor at Twitter. And it might just mean the Twitter rebranding to this logo means Musk is ready to take next steps.
“Twitter’s rebrand is a reminder that Elon Musk, not Threads or any other app, is and has always been the most likely ‘Twitter killer.’” – Jasmine Enberg, Analyst at Insider Intelligence
Organized Chaos or Catastrophe?
From the perspective of other social media companies, Musk’s strategy toward the Twitter rebranding is unusual. Several years prior, Google changed its parent company’s name to Alphabet. More recently, Facebook did the same when it converted to Meta. But in both of these instances, the brands of Google and Facebook were maintained. These still represent iconic brands that billions recognize and use. Musk’s failure to do this with the Twitter rebranding ignores technology giants’ best practices. Thus, it’s not unreasonable to suspect the new X logo could mean a further decline in Musk’s social media ventures.
While this may end up being the case, all bets are off when it comes to Musk. Many naysayers have been proven wrong by the world’s richest man in the past. It might just be the chaos he’s creating now might be a well-calculated strategy over the long-term. For example, his bleeding of advertising revenue dollars in recent months could be resolved under a profitable payment services platform. Transaction fees would offer new revenue dollars, bring back advertisers, and exceed Twitter’s previous returns. Notably, this will require new features and new users to the platform. But it wouldn’t be the first time that Musk surprised us all. For now, it seems like throwing an iconic brand in the garbage is quite foolish, but that may all change as Musk’s plans unfold.