- The world was taken by surprise when it was recently announced that Twitter would be henceforth known as ‘X.’
- The move is the latest in the list of changes that Elon Musk has brought to the social network ever since he took over earlier this year.
- The rebranding seems unnecessary as there were no real issues or problems with Twitter’s name or logo, and it further fuels speculation about how uncertain the future of the site and service is. Could being renamed X be the final straw that breaks Twitter’s already rickety, burdened back?
Twitter has been through a storm in the last few years. From financial turbulences to a change of captain— when Mr. Musk took over – to mass layoffs, Twitter has seen it all and, surprisingly, has somehow survived it. During each of these crises, it was widely felt that the bluebird would finally cease chirping, but the social media platform has tackled every challenge and has managed to keep its head above the water. The bluebird kept chirping.
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Surviving Threads, beaten by X?
Many predicted that it was finally time to attend Twitter’s funeral when Meta released the platform’s competitor recently. Threads, which also presents itself as a microblogging social media site and saw a record number of sign-ups in just a few hours of being launched. But even that did not seem to put a substantial dent in Twitter’s popularity. But just when we thought the storm had passed and Twitter’s troubled days were behind the social media platform, a brand new issue reared its head.
In a very abrupt yet typical Musk move, the Twitter owner decided to rename the popular microblogging site to X. Yes, just that one letter, X! It is perhaps the strangest change in nomenclature ever since rock star Prince changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol, and asked to be referred to as “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.”
One surprise too many from Musk?
The Tesla Man decided that it would be a great idea to take a well-established name, brand, and logo and dump it in the bin as if it had never existed. And replaced it with a name as random as X. The move is actually quite in line with his profile. The tech billionaire has been known for and is quite popular for, his seemingly hasty, spur-of-the-moment decisions. Right from flirting with the idea of buying Twitter, then actually buying it last October for USD 44 billion, and then firing what 75 percent of Twitter’s total workforce was, it has been pretty much one surprise/ shock after another from Musk.
So the decision to change Twitter’s name itself does not seem out of keeping with Musk’s nature. In fact, it is perfectly in line with his track record. Twitter’s CEO, Linda Yaccarino, mentioned how X will be the “future state of ultimate interactivity,” which seems like a half-baked explanation given to the world. This is somewhat in line with the “super app” idea that Musk has been teasing users with. With hands on our hearts, we are all for an app that does it all. A super app that takes on all the other evil apps out there and brings those who are wronged by these apps to justice.
We just have one question: why change Twitter? And take away the one thing that was probably the biggest asset of the platform– its identity.
Is Twitter committing suicide?
As per analysts, the brand Twitter alone (not the company) might be worth somewhere around USD 15-USD 20 Billion, while many believe that the company itself might not be worth that much. This is hardly surprising, considering the weather around Twitter has been very cloudy for some time now, and the new policies that Musk has recently introduced have not been quite as popular amongst users as he may have hoped they would be.
From introducing the paid blue tick to limiting the number of Tweets one can view in an hour to limiting DMs, Twitter has been making some policy waves that, at times, seemed almost designed to drive users away from the site. But the decision to rename the brand as X has to be one of the biggest blows the platform has taken in sometime now. And if you have given the text above a glance, you’d know surviving has not been easy for Twitter. Some are even saying that with this move, the brand is committing suicide. And they may not be wrong. This arbitrary rebranding may as well be the last nail in Twitter’s coffin.
The perfect name becomes an ex!
Before you think we are being too negative, hear us through. Twitter was perhaps the most correct, most appropriate name for a microblogging site, and the blue bird logo was distinct and served the right purpose. After all, isn’t a tweet supposed to be short like a chirp, and isn’t a lot of news and conversation attributed to “a little bird told us?” Twitter was the right name with the right mascot and the right logo in place – the brand’s name and logo reflected what its product was about. Compare that with the likes of Google or Amazon. Yes, we have gotten used to them and know what they represent, but these brand names do not seem to indicate what the products and services associated with them are really about. Twitter was a rarity in an industry whose most powerful brand was named after a fruit!
But what can X be identified with? It has no real positive or negative connotation. It neither says anything about the brand or the site that it represents. It literally could mean anything– XYZ!! In fact, in mathematics, the letter ‘x’ is literally used to represent something that is unknown. The letter is also famous for being used for suppressed information (The X-Files) and the adult entertainment industry (X-rated). Hardly the sort of association you wanted a super popular social network to have.
A very odd rechristening
It is not as if other tech brands have not rebranded over the years or changed names. The most famous examples in recent times are Facebook and Google, when they changed the name of their parent companies to Meta and Alphabet, respectively. But the difference here is that they did not go and change the name of the core services of Facebook or Google itself, but just the name of the overall brand under which they came – Google’s Search page still reads “Google,” and not “Alphabet.” The iconic “G” might have got more colors but is still “G” and not “A,” and Facebook’s blue “F” remains unchanged.
Contrast that with Twitter, where the iconic blue bird has been replaced by a pair of diagonally intersecting lines representing an ‘X.’ Interestingly, the URL still reads www.twitter.com (you are taken to www.twitter.com even if you try to go to www.x.com), and every posting is still called a “tweet,” and you still have “retweets.” All of this seems to indicate that the rebranding was done in a hurry and perhaps not really communicated across the board. Again, not really what a social network facing a lot of flak needs.
Perhaps having a parent company named X would have been the change Twitter needed. It would have created the right kind of buzz, made the right headlines, and brought Twitter the right kind of attention. That separate company could have been the start of “the ultimate” app that people at Twitter are so keen on creating. All of which makes perfect sense. But that is not what has happened. Musk has gone and changed the name of the service itself.
RIP, Twitter – in name, at least!
The whole problem with the renaming of Twitter is that we do not understand the need to change something that was not even remotely broken. God knows Twitter had its share of problems even before Musk took over. From content moderation issues to fake news to policies that seemed unable to curb online bullying, abuse, and harassment, Twitter was all over the place. However, no one was offended by or objected to its name or logo. When Musk took over, there was a small segment of the tech community that was hopeful that perhaps this would be a good thing. Perhaps a new, fresh leader is what the social media platform needs to solve its problems.
But instead of solving those issues, it seems like the unpredictable billionaire is adding to them and continues to do so. X is just another brick in that problematic wall he is building around the social network. It could well be the last nail in Twitter’s coffin. In terms of nomenclature, it might already be.