July 24 (Reuters) – After 17 years with an iconic blue bird that came to symbolize broadcasting ideas to the world, billionaire Elon Musk has rebranded Twitter as X and unveiled a new slogan, signaling a focus on building an “app of everything.”
On Monday, a white X on a black background became the new logo on Twitter, though the blue bird is still seen on the mobile app.
Since taking over Twitter in October, Musk said he envisions an app that could offer a variety of services to users outside of social media, such as peer-to-peer payments, an idea mirroring WeChat, widely popular in China.
Tom Morton, chief global strategy officer at advertising agency R/GA, said the shift is simply a way to make his mark on the company. The change of Twitter’s name and logo has nothing to do with user, advertiser, or market issues. It’s symbolic that Twitter is Elon Musk’s personal property.
“He conquered the castle, and now he raises his flag.”
The new logo got mixed reactions from users and sparked confusion about what tweets would now be called, while marketing and branding experts said rebranding risked throwing away years of Twitter’s name recognition.
“Few brands have become verbs or have seen themselves referred to in global news outlets as often as Twitter,” said Matt Rhodes, strategy lead at creative agency House 337, which has worked with British telecoms firm Sky.
“Anything that makes it difficult for people to find the app or want to open it on their crowded phone screens risks harming usability,” he said.
Changing brands usually takes time, said Fernando Machado, who previously held marketing director positions at Activision Blizzard, Restaurant Brands International, and Burger King, though “as a Twitter user, I admit I miss the little bird already.”
“Personally, I think the new approach seems a little cold and impersonal,” he said.
Outside Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco on Monday, police stopped construction workers from removing a Twitter sign, in a scene witnessed by a Reuters reporter. On one side of the building, only the blue bird and the letters “A” remain.
“#GoodbyeTwitter” was trending on the platform on Monday referring to the old logo as some users criticized the new logo.
“Soon we will be showing goodbye to the Twitter brand and, gradually, all the birds,” Musk tweeted on Saturday.
In response to a tweet asking which tweets would be named under the X, Musk responded with “x’s”.
Musk has used the letter X over and over again across his companies. He co-founded x.com as an online bank in 1999 which later transformed into PayPal. He bought the domain back from PayPal in 2017, saying it had “sentimental value”.
Domain x.com now redirects to Twitter.
X will “go to great lengths to change the global cityscape,” said Linda Iaccarino, former advertising director at NBCUniversal, who started as CEO of Twitter on June 5, telling staff in a note Monday.
The company will work on new features in voice, video, messaging, payments and banking services, according to the note seen by Reuters.
The platform will face challenges to reinvent its business.
Since Musk’s acquisition, the company has faced turbulent times with layoffs, a sharp drop in the number of advertisers and a rapid rise in the number of threads, Twitter’s meta response.
The billionaire’s decision to rename Twitter as X could be legally complicated: X is widely used and cited in trademarks, and companies including Meta and Microsoft already have intellectual property rights to the same letter.
Niklas Meer, a professor of marketing at Chapman University, said the rebranding suggests Musk has abandoned any plans to “revive Twitter as a powerful, standalone social network, and simply considers the $44 billion spent on the network to be too expensive.”
“The past few months have been a tumultuous one for Twitter, and I don’t think a new brand is going to solve everything,” said Drew Benfi, CEO of social media consulting firm Pattenhall.
“It’s less about reinventing Twitter, and more about building a brand around Elon Musk’s empire, including SpaceX, which is where Brand X is closely associated.”
Additional reporting by Subanta Mukherjee in Stockholm, Martin Coulter and Aiden Neolt in London, and Bharat Govind Gautam and Samrita A in Bengaluru; Sheila Dang in Dallas and Carlos Barrea in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Gopi Babu. Editing by Barbara Lewis and Jonathan Otis
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Supantha leads European technology and communications coverage, with a particular focus on emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and 5G. He has been working as a journalist for about 18 years. He joined Reuters in 2006 and has covered many areas ranging from the financial sector to technology. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden.
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