For me, Twitter was more than just a logo – it was a global brand, equally loved and hated by over hundreds of millions of users worldwide. Twitter’s brand purpose was about “giving everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers”. Yes this had its challenges, but its brand purpose created lasting connections, had instant recognition, and its platform created universally memorable nouns (although some call these a verb) which became part of our everyday vocabulary – think Tweet and Tweeting.
Twitter’s brandmark or trademark, the blue silhouette of a small bird in flight, had stand-out visibility and brilliant visual recall – everyone loved that blue bird. It stood out amongst a plethora of tech brands that, dare I say it, just don’t have a strong brand or visual identity, and rely on meaningless icons and, yes, letters.
Which brings me to my central question:
By replacing the blue bird logo with an “X”, has Elon Musk lost his (brand) mind?
Well, this may surprise you, but I for one don’t think he has lost his (brand) mind. Let me tell you why. And I’ll also give you an insight to what’s (probably) on his mind for the future of brand “X”. I will never pretend to know what’s going on in his head entirely, but he is leaving brand footprints to follow.
So what is Elon Musk’s (brand) plan for “X”, nee Twitter?
Sadly Twitter had probably lost sight of its original purpose. Arguably, this purpose may have run out of road for all kinds of reasons, that meant it was simply not sustainable for future users.
So guess what: Elon Musk said in 2022 he was buying Twitter, then said he wasn’t, then tried to pull out, then he eventually paid $44 billion, including $33.5 billion in equity for it. Meanwhile it’s on record that for some time he wanted to create his own version of WeChat, with his own “everything app” to incorporate “audio, video, messaging, payments, and banking” – all under one platform. And of course Twitter was a great platform to do this – but of course not as Twitter.
To make this new platform relevant to an “everything app”, Elon Musk needs to disrupt and reinvent the current Twitter brand purpose and its brand identity – because clearly Twitter’s original purpose no longer serves the new brand purpose he now envisions.
Why is brand purpose important?
Actually many tech brands we meet, don’t yet have a CMO let alone an Elon Musk on their team. Brand purpose and brand identity are not even top of their minds, or at least if they were, it’s been neglected often because of a product-centric approach.
Elon Musk rarely talks about “products”. That’s because he is driven by brand purpose – the “why” his brands exist. For example his brand purpose for SpaceX is to “reduce space transportation costs and to colonise Mars”. For Telsa it’s to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy”.
Focusing on the “why” a brand exists and how this purpose helps a brand become meaningful to its users is what Elon Musk is so very good at. Because of his huge presence on – guess what – Twitter, he gets his brands talked about all over the world, and this is a massive boost to each of his brands – because we are all talking and thinking about his brands aren’t we?