Twitter Rebrands to X
Thursday 27th July
by Beth Perrin
Twitter Rebrands to X
Thursday 27th July 2023
As you’re probably already aware, Elon Musk has been making lots of changes to Twitter since acquiring the platform back in October 2022 - including an overhaul of its verification system, the removal of free API access, an extended character limit for paid users and more. However, his most recent change is the biggest one the platform has ever seen: a complete rebrand. That means it’s time to wave goodbye to the name Twitter and its iconic blue bird logo, and say hello to the new name ‘X’, as well as a new logo and black colour scheme. Read on to find out everything we know so far about the rebrand, including Musk’s reasons for implementing the change, potential legal complications and what the new branding might mean for users.
Why Has Elon Musk Changed Twitter’s Name?
For a long time now, Elon Musk has been voicing his plans for a so-called “everything app” - one that he hopes will be as popular as WeChat, an app used by 827.2 million people in China (58.9% of the country’s total population!). Despite its name, WeChat isn’t just a messaging platform - it’s also used for making video calls, playing video games, sharing photos and videos, buying goods and services, transferring money, paying bills and more.
Buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 4, 2022
During a Q&A event with Twitter employees in June 2022, Musk noted that there isn’t an app like this outside of Asia, stating that Chinese citizens “basically live on WeChat” and adding that he would be interested in creating a western equivalent.
Then, when he established the tech company X Corp and merged it with Twitter Inc, the company that previously owned Twitter, he said: “Twitter was acquired by X Corp as an accelerant for X, the everything app. The Twitter name made sense when it was just 140 character messages going back and forth, but now you can post almost anything, including several hours of video. The Twitter name does not make sense in that context, so we must bid adieu to the bird.”
Twitter was acquired by X Corp both to ensure freedom of speech and as an accelerant for X, the everything app. This is not simply a company renaming itself, but doing the same thing.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 25, 2023
The Twitter name made sense when it was just 140 character messages going back and forth – like…
How Will This Impact Users?
At this stage, it doesn’t look like the rebrand is going to impact users massively, other than the new logo appearing on the website and some key features being renamed. According to Musk, tweets are going to be called ‘Xs’ and followers may become ‘viewers’, although these haven’t been changed on the platform yet.
The web domain X.com now automatically redirects to Twitter.com, and the original @Twitter handle has also become inactive - if you head to this profile, you’ll see that the bio now says: “This account is no longer active. Follow @x for updates.” Other handles have also been renamed such as @TwitterSupport which is now simply @Support, @TwitterDev, which is now @Xdevelopers, and @TwitterAPI, which is now simply @API.
Musk has also stated that he “will consider” renaming Twitter Blue, the platform’s paid subscription service, ‘X Black’, and has confirmed that the platform will soon only be available in ‘dark mode’ - aka all text will be displayed in a light colour (white or grey) against a dark or black screen instead of the reverse. At the moment, users can switch between ‘default’ (light) mode, ‘dim’ mode or ‘lights out’ (dark) mode.
Potential Legal Implications
The decision to rebrand Twitter as X could be complicated legally, as hundreds of businesses already have intellectual property rights to the same letter. For example, since 2003, Microsoft has owned an X trademark related to communications about its Xbox, and since 2019 Meta Platforms has owned a federal trademark covering a blue and white letter X logo which applies to the categories of software and social media among others.
Trademark attorney and Founder of Gerben Intellectual Property, Josh Gerben, told Reuters that he counted almost 900 other US companies from a wide variety of industries that have already trademarked X. Of course, not all of them will be able to credibly claim that Twitter’s rebrand is interfering with their trademark, however it will make X an easy target for claims.
Gerben tweeted: “There is about a 100% probability that Twitter/X will be sued by both opportunistic and legitimate plaintiffs over the new name. The company could easily spend tens of millions (if not $100+ million) in legal fees and settlement costs attempting to acquire trademark registrations for ‘X’ and in dealing with the litigation that is likely to result from the rebrand.”
Erasing an Iconic Brand
Gerben also noted that: “The [former blue] Twitter trademark is known (and protected) around the world. To cast aside an asset this valuable in favor of a new trademark is unprecedented in history”, which is a very important point - it’s hard to think of any other companies that have established a brand as strong and recognisable as Twitter, maintained that uniqueness for nearly 20 years, then successfully switched to a new name and image without major criticism from their audience and the general public.
The Twitter rebrand to "X" is the trademark story of the year.— Josh Gerben (@JoshGerben) July 25, 2023
A few reasons why:
1⃣ The Twitter trademark is known (and protected) around the world.
To cast aside an asset this valuable in favor of a new trademark is unprecedented in history.
2⃣ It takes years of effort to… pic.twitter.com/RZdSeukRXL
Back in 2001, for example, Royal Mail attempted to rename itself Consignia, spending around £1.5 million on a huge rebrand which included a new logo. The company wanted to show customers that it now offered more than just mail services, hence the decision to include the word ‘consign’, which means ‘to give over to another’s care’, or ‘to entrust’.
However, the rebrand was met with massive backlash. Most people didn’t understand the reference to the new brand name, nobody liked the look of the new logo design, and many thought that it ruined the 500-year history of the company - so, about a year and a half later, it ended up spending a further £1 million reverting back to Royal Mail. The Independent even called it “one of the most disastrous corporate rebrandings ever undertaken.” Could X be heading down a similar path?
Additionally, Channel 4, which renamed its online streaming service from ‘4OD’ (which stood for on-demand) to ‘All 4’ in 2015, then renamed it again to simply ‘Channel 4’ this year, also joked about Twitter’s rebrand, noting the struggle of trying to make audiences adopt a new brand name when the old one is firmly ingrained in their minds.
People still call our streaming service 4OD so good luck https://t.co/olKv5FFTWf— Channel 4 (@Channel4) July 24, 2023
Regardless of the consequences, it seems that Twitter’s rebrand is already well underway and Elon Musk has no intentions of making a U-turn at this stage. What do you think of the new style so far? Are people likely to welcome X, or will they continue using the name and vocabulary they’re accustomed to? One thing’s for sure - the changes are coming fast, so be sure to keep an eye on both the desktop and app versions of the platform over the coming days and weeks to find out what gets released next. We’d love to hear from you, so tweet (or X!) us @3sixfivepro to share your opinion on this story.
- December 7, 2023
- November 30, 2023
- November 23, 2023
- November 16, 2023
- November 9, 2023
- November 2, 2023