X: The Mark of a New Era or the Fall of Twitter?
In a confusing series of events, Elon Musk announced and rebranded Twitter overnight; abandoning their iconic blue bird to promote a starkly minimal ‘X’.
Twitter has become one of the most talked about social media platforms of 2023. Not because of its amazing new features, but of its controversies. Controversies which began after Elon Musk acquired the company back in October 2022. From massive staff cuts, unbanning controversial accounts and introducing paid features, an endless list of headlines and discussions ensued. However, this latest news is perhaps the most absurd controversy to come out of the Twitter-sphere.
Out of the Blue
On Sunday, Musk began the big reveal on Twitter itself by tweeting,
“And soon we shall bid adieu to the twitter brand and, gradually, all the birds” (source)
With a number of following tweets, images and a promotional video, his intentions were clear. Out of the blue, a new logo began to appear across Twitter; a stylised ‘X’. The news was solidified with Twitter’s newly appointed CEO ‘Linda Yaccarino’ tweeting,
“It’s an exceptionally rare thing – in life or in business – that you get a second chance to make another big impression. Twitter made one massive impression and changed the way we communicate. Now, X will go further, transforming the global town square.” (source)
And with that, Twitter’s blue bird began to disappear from… X. However, so much still remains of the old company.
Rebrand or Stunt?
Days after the big reveal, not much has changed on Twitter. While the logo has changed, Twitter has not yet been formally renamed to ‘X’, posts are still referred to as ‘Tweets’ and the famous blue bird colour still dominates the site. While the announcement seems like a huge rebrand, it has merely been a change in iconography so far. So was it a rebrand, or a strange attempt to keep people's eyes on Twitter?
Just recently, Meta had announced ‘Threads’; a text-based social media platform connected with Instagram which shared many similarities with Twitter. With heavy marketing and 100 million users upon its first week of launch, Threads became an instant success and a direct competitor with Twitter. With such competition, the recent news could be taken as Twitter’s solution to an ever growing competitive market.
From what is known about the rebrand, which is still unfolding, Musk seems to be following in the footsteps of China’s massively popular platform ‘WeChat’, and their expansion into other avenues such as eCommerce and gaming.
While the rebrand may be hard to define from a business standpoint, public opinion is overwhelmingly negative. A primary distaste for the new logo is a result of the connection between the users and Twitter’s famous blue bird. Twitter and the blue bird have become an iconic part of the digital age that has been ingrained into our very lexicon. Another reason for such disdain is due to the logos qualities and connotations, with X widely being referred to as a symbol within the adult entertainment industry. While the backlash hasn’t targeted the industry, it has raised concerns about how careless the Twitter rebrand was and the lack of meaning behind the new identity.
One intriguing area of public opinion can be found in the design community's response. Many designers have taken to Twitter to post alternative logo designs which retain some of the original elements found in Twitter’s identity. For example, this tweet from Amir Hiroon, (source)
With such a negative response from Twitter’s users, what does the future hold for the company?
More concrete moves towards rebranding have been made such as the dismantling of the original logo outside of Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco; briefly halted by police due to ‘unauthorised work’. The app has also been updated across devices to the name ‘X’ and bears the new logo.
As the blue bird we all know begins to disappear, what is Musk’s plan from here on out? Previous plans revealed by Twitter mentioned a subscription-based product known as ‘X’ which the team proposed would garner 104 million subscribers by 2028. It is unclear whether this subscription has to do with the paid verification tick introduced to Twitter or some additional features. However, its previous announcement hints to some clear plan in the works.