Twitter is not the X you can dump—why brand twitter continues to fly
“And soon we shall bid adieu to the twitter brand and, gradually, all the birds”
‘if a good enough X logo is posted tonight, we’ll make go live worldwide tomorrow’
– Elon Musk
That’s how it started. Elon Musk, in these two tweets, challenged everything designers and marketers have learnt in schools and practice. Design Twitter couldn’t handle it. Marketers couldn’t stop grumbling about it.
Elon Musk has enjoyed ruffling up feathers on Twitter long before he acquired it.
He’s been accused of manipulating stock prices of his companies by tweeting incredulous statements.
His tweets become inspirational quotes for millions of his followers (most are young techies, self-styled start-up ‘enthusiasts’).
‘Time will tell’, we thought Musk was just having fun, maybe a designer at Twitter HQ had pissed him off.
But he went ahead and replaced the Twitter bird with an odd looking ‘X’ logo within 24 hours. The logo was originally designed by a Musk fan-boy engineer named Alex Tourville, for an audio show inside Callin, a social podcasting app.
Mr. Musk described it as being closest in style to ‘Art deco’. It makes us want to peep inside his mind, to see how he made that connection.
It was projected on the Twitter HQ building the same night.
However, 2 months down the line he hasn’t been able to replace the iconic Twitter blue, will he ever be able to is what we have been wondering about. The blue tick looks the same, the buttons are still the same. So, what’s really changed?
TheHardCopy, a great blog on branding and design in India, wrote on how the Twitter rebrand was given a step-motherly treatment by Musk. He’s built brands. He’s been an intelligent purchaser of design—the Tesla and SpaceX brands were designed by RO Studio, a professional design firm, we learnt from the article.
Why wasn’t the Twitter brand redesign handled more respectfully? We cannot answer that question. But we do have some observations on the rebrand’s impact on people.
Users have rejected brand X
Only a fraction of Twitter’s 436 million users have accepted the rebranding. They’re not calling it X; it hasn’t stuck. It can’t. It’s a placeholder whose value is to be still determined, x = ?. Solve it for us, will you?
They’re still ‘tweeting on twitter’, no one is ‘posting on X’.
In fact, users are showing their displeasure by giving 1 star reviews on the App Store. Everyone refers to it as Twitter (now X). It is always the other way round after renames.
No one want Xs on their site
We look after the visual and functional hygiene of websites we’ve designed, in Annual Maintenance Contracts (AMCs). Not one client has asked us to replace the blue bird with the unidentifiable X logo.
Our own website links to Twitter at 3 different places—a follow link on the homepage (you should do that), as a link to share our work and finally an option to quote excerpts from Itu’s Deep Design articles.
We too, have neither renamed the links nor changed the bird icon.
‘Follow us on X?’ That sounds like an invitation to join a cult. We’ll pass.
The twitter bird on our website.
Twitter’s been pushing the X logo though. If you have a website and don’t want the X on it, here’s an Indian Express article that will help you out. It’s an extension that replaces the X with the bird and over 10,000 downloads. Indian Express itself has not replaced the bird and probably won’t.
A JPG, or a vector form change isn’t a brand change
The logo is not the brand, it is one of a whole kit of elements that make up a brand experience. For digital brands, it’s a combination of emotional appeal, user experience, parent colour, typography and interface usability among a host of other factors.
A logo; at the risk of ruffling some feathers myself, is a mere label. It is the thing you see. The whole brand experience is what you get.
And that’s where it gets difficult for me to call this vector changing exercise a rebrand.
Except, the real Twitter experience hasn’t changed much.
Okay, anyone can get themselves verified, but it’s the same ‘blue’ tick. You can make longer ‘tweets’ now 🙂
It is still blue and white for all important actions, the typography is the same. The app experience remains as bad or good as ever. It’s not yet been musked up. At least no hurry shown in that quarter yet.
If changing a profile picture is what Mr. Musk thinks of a rebrand then there’s not much to worry about a crowd-sourced, 24 hour, ‘rebranding’ exercise. It’s a rich man’s wimp. He can do it, he does it. His bat, his rules.
Wherever users found a way to reject it, they have. He can’t ignore it, though he may not care.
Twitter was a loveable space, X is very alien. We are on Twitter everyday and never miss the bird, because we can sense its presence there.
We wish to tweet, not post some hush-hush XXX stuff with you, you know.
Lisa Rath | Ayushmaan Agarwalla