In the realm of business and innovation, few figures draw attention like Elon Musk. His groundbreaking ventures with SpaceX, Starlink, Tesla, and now X, formerly known as Twitter, have redefined industries. Some pin him as a genius, others think he’s living in a fantasy world. Regardless his genius cannot be ignored, however, his recent move rebranding Twitter as “X’ raises questions about the fundamentals of branding we marketers stand true to. This move, while bold, challenges the principles that Marketing 101 teaches about building and maintaining a brand.

Branding is more than a name; it’s the very essence of a company’s identity, values, and promise. Elon Musk doing away with the bird represents a departure from established norms in several ways:

  • Consistency and Recognition — We all know the saying, ‘Consistency is key.’ A brand’s name becomes its identity and is imprinted in people’s minds. Changing it abruptly erodes the recognition the brand has built up since its founding in 2006. Almost two decades!
  • Brand Association — As a brand, you want to be remembered. A brand name should evoke emotions, connections, and associations. “X” lacks the context to conjure up any meaningful emotions.
  • Market Differentiation — Branding aims to distinguish a company in a crowded marketing. New social media apps try to fit into the already well-established marketing, but one thing that Twitter had going for it was the fun puns that went along with it. Tweet and retweet are not post and repost…boring!

There is a fine line between innovation and recklessness. Musk is becoming known for redefining norms, but his move to rebrand Twitter prompts us to reflect on the enduring principles of Marketing that encourage consistency, memorability, and differentiation. Brands can absolutely innovate and transform but within the bounds of these principles.

As a marketer myself, it pains me a little to see the Twitter brand thrown away. I find the concept to be genius and so well-rounded. Elon Musk may have a vision but for me, it remains to be seen. I will continue to mourn the loss of such branding genius. RIP Twitter!

-Allison Housley