July 24 (Reuters) – Billionaire Elon Musk has renamed Twitter X and unveiled a new logo after 17 years of broadcasting ideas to the world with an iconic blue bird.
On Monday, a white X on a black background became the new logo on Twitter’s website, although the blue bird was seen on the mobile app.
Since taking over Twitter in October, Musk has said he envisions an app that could offer users a variety of services beyond social media, such as peer-to-peer payments, mimicking the widely popular WeChat app in China.
The change is a way for Musk to make his mark on the company, said Tom Morton, global chief strategy officer of advertising agency R/GA. “Twitter’s name and logo change has nothing to do with user, advertiser or market issues. It is a symbol that Twitter is the personal property of Elon Musk.
“He conquered the fort, and now he flies his own flag.”
The new logo drew mixed reactions from users and sparked confusion over what Tweets would now be called, while marketing and branding experts said it risked throwing off Twitter’s name recognition for years.
“Only a few brands have become verbs or are mentioned in global news organizations as much as Twitter,” says Matt Rhodes, strategy lead at creative agency House 337, which has worked with British telecoms giant Sky.
“Making it difficult for people to find or wanting to open the app on their cluttered phone screens is detrimental to the app,” he said.
“As a Twitter user, I admit I already miss the little bird,” said Fernando Machado, formerly chief marketing officer at Activision Blizzard, Restaurant Brands International and Burger King.
“Personally, I think the new approach is a bit cold and impersonal,” he said.
Outside Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco on Monday, seen by a Reuters reporter, police blocked construction workers from removing the Twitter sign. Only a blue bird and the letters “Er” remained on one side of the building.
“#GoodbyeTwitter” was trending on the platform on Monday in reference to the old logo as some users criticized the new logo.
Musk tweeted on Saturday, “Soon we will say goodbye to the Twitter brand and gradually say goodbye to all birds”.
To a tweet asking what tweets under X would be called, Musk replied “x’s”.
Musk has repeatedly used the letter X in his companies. He founded x.com in 1999 as an online bank that later became PayPal. He bought the domain back from PayPal in 2017, saying it had “sentimental value.”
The domain x.com now redirects to Twitter.
Linda Yaccarino, former head of advertising at NBCUniversal, who started as Twitter CEO on June 5, said in a memo to employees on Monday that X “will go even further to transform the global city square.”
According to a memo seen by Reuters, the company will work on new features in audio, video, messaging, payments and banking.
The site will face challenges to rebuild its business.
Since Musk’s acquisition, the company has faced turbulent times with layoffs, a sharp drop in advertisers and the meteoric rise of Meta’s response to Twitter.
The billionaire’s decision to rename Twitter X could be legally complicated: X is widely used and cited in trademarks, and companies including Meta and Microsoft already own intellectual property rights to the same letter.
“Musk has abandoned any plans to reinvent Twitter as a powerful stand-alone social network and sees the $44 billion spent on the network as a sunk cost,” said Nicklas Meier, a marketing professor at Chapman University.
“Twitter has been in turmoil for the past few months, and I don’t think a new brand is going to solve everything,” said Drew Benvie, CEO of social media consultancy Battenhall.
“It’s less about reinventing Twitter and more about building a brand around Elon Musk’s empire, including SpaceX, where the X branding really aligns a little more closely.”
Reporting by Subanta Mukherjee in Stockholm, Martin Coulter and Aidan Naldi in London, Bharat Govind Gautam and Samrita A in Bangalore; Sheila Tang in Dallas and Carlos Baria in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Juby Babu; Editing by Barbara Lewis and Jonathan Otis
Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Subantha leads European technology and telecom coverage, with a special focus on emerging technologies such as AI and 5G. He has been a journalist for about 18 years. He joined Reuters in 2006 and has covered various beats from finance to technology. He is based in Stockholm, Sweden.