For more than 10 years, Twitter has been recognizable by its blue and white bird logo, which became a symbol of the social network’s unique culture and lexicon. To “tweet” became a verb. A “tweet” referred to a post. “Tweeps” became the nickname for Twitter employees.
Late on Sunday, Elon Musk started dumping everything.
The tech billionaire, who bought Twitter last year, rebranded the social platform X.com on his website and began replacing the bird logo with a stylized version of the 24th letter of the Latin alphabet. Inside Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters, X logos were projected into the cafeteria, while conference rooms were renamed to X-words, such as “eXposure,” “eXult” and “s3Xy,” according to photos seen by The New York Times.
Mr Musk had long said he could change the name, but sped up the process by a cheep early Sunday morning when he declared that “soon we will say goodbye to the twitter brand and, little by little, to all the birds”. He has said that he hopes to turn Twitter into an “everything app” called X that encompasses not just social networking, but also banking and shopping.
Early Monday, Mr. Musk also shared a photo of a giant X projected on the Twitter office building in San Francisco with the caption: “Our Headquarters Tonight.”
The moves, which continue, are the most visible changes Musk has made to Twitter since closing the deal to buy the company in October. Behind the scenes, he has taken many steps to reshape the company, removing thousands of employees from Twitter and changing the platform’s features, including the badges that were meant to verify users, as well as the rules governing what you can and can’t say on the service.
However, the name and logo change was impossible to ignore. And by beginning to scrap the Twitter name, Musk scrapped an entrenched brand that had been around since 2006, when the company was founded, and had delighted and frustrated celebrities, politicians, athletes and other users in equal measure. Twitter introduced its blue bird mascot in 2010 and updated it two years later.
Many Twitter users, who have spent years tweeting and building their presence on the site, seemed alienated by the change. “Has everyone seen the new (eXecrable) logo?” actor mark hamill tweeted on Monday, with the hashtag #ByeByeBirdie. Others saw the move as Musk’s latest jab at the site, with some stubbornly saying they would keep calling the site Twitter and keep “tweeting.”
When brands become verbs, it’s the “holy grail,” said Mike Proulx, Forrester’s vice president and chief research officer, because it means they’ve become part of popular culture.
“The app itself has become a cultural phenomenon in all sorts of ways,” he said. “In one fell swoop, Elon Musk essentially wiped out 15 years of brand value from Twitter and is now essentially starting from scratch.”
Musk risked angering Twitter users even when he can’t afford to upset them. His company is facing financial difficulties and increased competition, with his rival Meta launching an app this month for real-time public conversations called Threads. The new app quickly racked up 100 million downloads in less than a week, though app usage is under scrutiny.
Mike Carr, co-founder of branding firm NameStormers, said Musk’s X logo could be interpreted as an ominous “Big Brother” tech overlord vibe. Unlike the blue bird, which he described as warm and cuddly but perhaps a little dated and plagued by bad press, the new logo was “very tough,” he said.
Still, it evoked phrases like “X marks the spot” and could help Musk differentiate the platform from his Twitter baggage, Carr said.
“If they do this wrong and it was someone other than Elon Musk, he would be at higher risk because people might start making fun of it,” said Carr, who has helped come up with names for thousands of clients, including CarMax, the used-car company.
Mr. Musk has long been interested in the name X. In 1999, he helped found x.com, an online bank. The company changed its name after merging with another start-up to form what would become the online payment company PayPal.
In 2017, Musk said he bought back PayPal’s X.com domain. “There are no plans at this time, but it has great sentimental value to me,” he said. tweeted At the time.
Tesla, Musk’s electric car maker, also has a sport utility vehicle called the Model X. One of Musk’s sons, X Æ A-12 Musk, is often called “X” for short. The holding companies created to close the acquisition of Twitter were called X Holdings. Musk also runs an artificial intelligence company called xAI.
“I like the letter X,” he said. aware on Sunday.
Musk has shown disdain for Twitter’s previous corporate culture. He has questioned the amount of bird references in the names and products of the company’s internal teams. At one point, he changed the name of a crowdsourced fact-checking feature to “Community Notes” from “Birdwatch.” He recently also had someone cover the “w” in Twitter’s name at his San Francisco headquarters.
Among those who didn’t seem upset by the change was Jack Dorsey, Twitter founder and former chief executive. He said in a tweet Monday that while a rebrand was not “essential” to achieving Musk’s vision, there was a case for it.
“The Twitter brand carries a lot of baggage”, Mr. Dorsey wrote. “But the only thing that matters is the utility it provides, not the name.”
Martin Grasser, a San Francisco-based artist who was part of a team in 2011, who helped design Twitter’s latest bird logo, said it was meant to convey “simplicity, brevity, and clarity.” The goal was to have a logo that was as memorable as Apple’s or Nike’s, she said.
Grasser said Musk could do whatever he wanted with the brand, but “I hope the bird takes up a place in the culture that is either a happy memory or becomes one of those logos that belongs in the culture rather than a company.”