X Marks The Spot Where Musk Buried Twitter’s Brand

M.H. Williams
Into The Discourse
Published in
6 min readJul 31


How much does it cost to ruin a brand? Apparently $44 billion, if Elon Musk is any indication. This week, Musk finally completed his planned rebranding of Twitter.

The move started back in April, when Twitter, Inc. was changed to X Corp. This week, the familiar Twitter bird logo was replaced with a simple, stylized “X” logo. The rest of rebranding was a bit of struggle, however. Most of the documentation still refers to Twitter and “tweets”. Musk moved to take down the Twitter sign from the company’s San Francisco headquarters, but that project was stalled by the fact that Musk failed to tell the property owners, causing the police to be called.

Once that matter was resolved, a new “X” sign was placed atop the building, a shining beacon in the night. Of course, the issue there is multifold. Permits are needed to erect a sign on top of a historic building, especially one as bright as the X logo. That brightness is also an issue for the folks who live across from the building, as user Christopher J. Beale noted on Twitter. Complaints have ensued. “Planning review and approval is also necessary for the installation of this sign. The city is opening a complaint and initiating an investigation,” said Department of Building Inspection spokesperson Patrick Hannan told the Associated Press on Friday. (Right after this post went up, the sign was removed.)

The hits just kept on coming on the digital side of the rebranding as well. The internet joked that the interim X logo looked to be a sans serif version of an “X” glyph available from Unicode’s database. This isn’t necessarily a problem, as Unicode has a free, open-source license, but one would think a billionaire could afford to pay a designer to come up with something new. In addition, Meta holds the trademark for “X” as a logo in relation to “online social networking services”, as the company picked up Microsoft’s defunct Mixer brand. App Store infrastructure is also stopping Twitter from becoming “X”, as iOS prevents app names with fewer than two characters.

The Everything App

All of this is part of a move toward Musk’s planned “everything app”. “The Twitter name made sense when it was just 140 character messages going back and forth–like birds tweeting–but now you can post almost anything, including several hours of video,” Musk said on Monday. “In the months to come, we will add comprehensive communications and the ability to conduct your entire financial world. The Twitter name does not make sense in that context, so we must bid adieu to the bird.”

The idea of the “everything app” isn’t entirely absurd, as other regions have apps like Tencent’s WeChat in China. (WhatsApp is trying to make similar moves.) The major issue ahead of Musk’s plans is a lack of trust. Insider Intelligence, a division of Business Insider, noted that Twitter was the seventh most trusted social media app in 2022. Twitter was behind LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. Even though every social media service lost trust versus 2021, Twitter’s loss in trust was still in the middle of the pack, and that was prior to Musk’s takeover.

Musk himself is seen as erratic by many. Tesla’s overall brand has worsened since Musk has become more outspoken. The New York Times recently published a story about global worry over Musk’s control of the Starlink communications system. And without trust, you’re not getting people to put their financial futures into your platform.

“The idea that I would use an app that I find more jarring under Elon Musk’s ownership, that I would trust it enough to put my money into it, is fanciful,” Bruce Daisley, the former head of Twitter’s European operations, told The Guardian.

“You can have a really good product and a really good system, but if people don’t trust it, it’s not going to happen,” data company FXC Intelligence head of content Lucy Ingham told the outlet.

And that’s before noting that Twitter is actually one of the smaller social media apps in terms of its user base. It has 541 million monthly active users, far below Instagram’s two billion or TikTok’s one billion. With no trust, X can’t grow, and without more ubiquity, it can’t cross the threshold to really become an everything app.

A Failed Launch

Twitter, despite its smaller user base, has a strong social impact. The brand is everywhere. While other platforms have posts, Twitter’s “tweets” are well understood and widespread. Jimmy Kimmel Live has its “Mean Tweets” segment, while Wired and other Conde Nast outlets have their “Support” line of videos, where subject matter experts answer Twitter questions. (The latest Tech Support video actually has the “X” logo, while still calling the service “Twitter”.)

When many news outlets report on the latest news, the Twitter logo is there. Tweets have appeared in Congressional hearings multiple times. If you live in an urban environment, you’ll see the familiar bird logo on restaurant signs and food trucks. That’s powerful branding Musk is simply throwing away, with analysts noting that up to $20 billion in value has been lost in the rebrand.

“It took 15-plus years to earn that much equity worldwide, so losing Twitter as a brand name is a significant financial hit,” Steve Susi, director of brand communication at Siegel & Gale, told TIME.

“To me, it’s going to go down in history as one of the fastest unwinding of a business and brand ever,” Metaforce co-founder Allen Adamson added.

Musk’s major problem is that he could’ve created this planned app without destroying Twitter. For all its own issues, Meta is much better at understanding segmented apps underneath its control: Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and now Threads each have different focuses. Likewise, all of Google’s products are under Alphabet, Inc, but retain their names because the branding and history of Google or YouTube is still very important. X Corp could’ve kept Twitter operating on an even keel and then used that as a springboard to launch X. What was there didn’t need to die.

Instead, Twitter is gone, replaced by X. (It went better than when Musk tried to rebrand PayPal as X, at least.) Where the familiar, jaunty blue bird once stood, the cold X glyph remains. And Musk continues to add new features like voice messages and ad revenue sharing in a desperate bid to keep X relevant. Let’s see if X ever reaches “everything” status. Personally, I doubt it. Over Twitter’s dead body.

This was the essay portion of my weekly newsletter, Stuff Worth Knowing. Every week, I round up the most important news across film, television, video gaming, and tech. If you just want the essays, you can continue to read them here, but if you want the full news round-up, you can subscribe to Stuff Worth Knowing for free! (Or chuck in a little money.)



M.H. Williams
Into The Discourse

Reviewer at @PCMag, among other things. Black guy, glasses, and a tie.