A couple of weeks ago, Musk announced that Twitter will change its name to X. Already, the logo has changed from the blue bird to a slick black X.
The X.com domain is already linked to the Twitter domain, and the official Twitter logo has been taken down from Twitter HQ.
I’m here to tell you that this rebranding might be the last nail in the coffin of an already dead-looking bird.
Musk’s vision is not the problem. He wants to create an “everything” platform that lets you do anything, from banking and shopping to finding food recipes, organizing meetings, and so on.
That’s all fine and dandy. But the way he’s doing it is what’s killing the platform.
Let me explain by going into a few reasons why I think the X rebranding is bad for Twitter!
1. The Meaning of X
What does “X” mean? What do you think when you hear someone saying X? Is it a thing, and is it good or bad?
Usually, when I hear or see X, I might be thinking of:
- A prohibition/restriction
- The sex industry (triple x?)
The last thing I’ll be thinking about is a social media platform that lets me read the news or get involved in wild political debates.
There’s your first problem. X isn’t recognizable, whereas Twitter was. It had almost two decades of history behind it. It was part of the online lexicon, and we all knew what it was.
X, on the other hand, doesn’t mean anything in particular, other than being a cool-looking or sounding letter, according to Musk.
You could say that Facebook’s rebranding to Meta falls into the same category but not exactly. Meta already had a fairly established meaning when the rebranding took place.
It means something concrete (depending on who you ask). It has a vision behind it and it reflects a certain idea – the metaverse.
Plus, and this is the most important thing, Facebook didn’t change its logo or anything about the platform. The platform’s name is still Facebook.
Only the corporate entity known as Facebook has changed to Meta. The social platform is still Facebook.
To compare, Twitter, as a corporate entity, has changed its name to X Corp. But Musk also wanted to change the social platform’s name to X.
And, as I said, X doesn’t mean anything in particular.
2. It Comes at a Bad Time
Before the Twitter rebranding, a couple of things happened:
- Meta owner Zuckerberg announced the launch of Threads
- Jack Dorsey launched Bluesky
- Musk destroyed Twitter’s leftover reputation with dumb decisions
- Marketers were forced off the platform by the influx of negative content
- Many Twitter users were disillusioned by Musk’s leadership
Now, the one thing that kept users and marketers on the platform was butchered and replaced by a meaningless alphabet letter.
Twitter’s brand was in its name, the color palette, and the jargon that was created to express things like “tweeting” “reading a tweet” or “I’m on Twitter“.
This loss of identity will disillusion loyal Twitter users who won’t have any reason to keep using Twitter. The platform had already been half-hacked to death by Musk’s changes.
Now that it will change its name, what’s left of the old Twitter but a façade? Nothing, according to many.
3. X Makes for Bad Verbs
Do you know how people used to “tweet” on Twitter. Or how you’d be reading “tweets” on the platform? How about “retweeting” something?
Well, that language will now change to “x’ing” “xing” or “x-ing” for when you “X” something on the platform.
“Tweets” will become “xes” or “x’es“, and “retweeting” will become “rexing” or “rex’ing“. Does any of this look like a mouthful to you?
Here’s how an average interaction will go on from now on:
“Hey, have you heard the latest trend on TikTok“
“Yeah, Joe has xed about it and then everyone else has started rexing it all over the place. X is full of it now“
See what I mean?
4. It Puts Marketers Off
Marketers knew what Twitter was and what it stood for. They knew that users were also aware of the existence of Twitter, what it was, what you could do on it, and so on.
They had certain expectations about the type of audience on Twitter because of the platform’s identity that everyone was are of.
But now, Twitter has changed its name to X. And there are still people who don’t know about this change or won’t even care to know that X is the old Twitter.
They just won’t be bothered to create an account. And this will negatively impact the performance of ads on the platform.
What’s more, old users will become disillusioned with the rebranding and leave the platform for other platforms. Which, again, won’t look good for marketers.
Ad revenue is still the most important form of revenue for the platform. Admittedly, X wants to be an “everything” platform with multiple sources of revenue. It won’t depend entirely on ad revenue, that’s true.
But still, that time is not there yet. The company is nearing bankruptcy and Twitter is worth only a third of what it was worth before Musk bought it.
They need that ad money desperately because Musk alone can’t sustain Twitter’s financial expenses alone.
And a sudden rebranding of the platform to X will be a massive put-off to marketers who will lose trust in the platform’s stability.
Usually, marketers don’t like playing on shaky ground. They want foreseeable results and actionable predictions that lead to the expected performance metrics.
X is now more unstable than it’s ever been. Its Twitter identity has been fed to the dogs and Musk’s cartoonish leadership fraught with countless mistakes has made the Blue Bird smell bad.
5. The “Everything” App Doesn’t Exist in the West Yet
I understand Musk’s vision of emulating the Chinese WeChat model. It stands to create an interconnected network of apps and services the likes of which don’t exist in the Western world yet.
However, it is precisely due to nothing similar existing that users will have a harder time adapting to this platform. Doubly so if it is built on the crumbling skeleton of a wholly different platform.
The adoption rate will be abysmally low for these two key reasons:
- Lack of trust and experience with such apps
- Twitter’s bad reputation
It would have been better for Musk to create X from the ground up. To devise the site architecture from scratch, create visuals, and so on.
As it is now, X is “the old Twitter“, not the “everything app” that Musk envisions. He can’t escape the bad reputation or disillusionment attached to Twitter’s rebranding.
There is a counterpoint to all this, though. Musk chose to rebrand Twitter to get rid of the bad rep and turn over the page. I’ve talked about this in another article.
But all in all, I believe the downsides will overshadow the benefits in the long run. It remains to be seen how Musk tackles all the challenges ahead.
6. Musk Is Not Trustworthy
One of the better reasons why Twitter’s rebranding to X might spell doom for the platform is Elon Musk’s bad reputation.
Many people love him, many hate him, and many are appalled by the seemingly brainless manner in which he managed Twitter so far.
He eliminated parts of Twitter that he later reinstated because, apparently, they had a reason to be there. He reinstated accounts of controversial figures only to ban them later on.
He asked his engineers to artificially promote his posts on the platform so they get more traction with viewers.
He fired some employees who criticized him on the platform, got into childish conflicts with Mark Zuckerberg, and he generally behaves in a manner unfit for a CEO (or former CEO).
It’s not a surprise that marketers don’t trust Twitter given Musk’s unpredictability and spontaneous behavior.
That’d be all I have for you. If anything changes with regard to Twitter’s rebranding status, I’ll be here to report on it!