Successfully rebranding, Best practice – is Elon Musk doing it right?

For companies looking to evolve their identity and maintain relevance in the constantly changing landscape, rebranding is a critical step. When done successfully, rebranding allows brands to transfer equity while retaining awareness. In the context of Twitter’s rebrand, we question whether Elon Musk’s approach to transforming the platform aligns with best practices…and whether it needs to.

Brand equity is a precious commodity and successfully transferring this is a delicate operation. The brand must maintain relevance whilst simultaneously undergoing a transformative process. Recognition is particularly essential in the era of social media where news spreads rapidly and influences public perception and interest. There is also pressure on the brand to preserve its charm and identity during this journey.

Twitter’s transformation to “X” has been far from a smooth ride, with the name change raising eyebrows across the industry. In addition, a quick Google search for the platform reveals an SEO challenge. ‘X’ does not lead the search results; it is overshadowed by the 2022 horror movie of the same name and news updates about Disease X. However, this SEO hurdle hints at larger challenges for the successful rebrand.

Bringing consumers on the journey…

There is more to successful rebranding than making name and logo changes, the user experience needs to be elevated by the transformation. Customers need to feel compelled to follow the brand as it takes on its new form. This means adding value that aligns with the needs of the user base.

Not all the changes to X are considered to add this value; ‘Circles’, a feature on X that allows people to post to a smaller, select ‘circle’ of users, has been largely welcomed. However, other additions such as limiting the number of posts people can view and post monetisation, have been perceived with some negativity.

Bringing the business on the journey…

Rebranding doesn’t just impact external perceptions; it affects internal dynamics too. Ensuring that employees are on-board and fully prepared for the change is vital. Careful planning and coordination for relevant internal teams is usually essential to a successful rebrand. This element of the rebrand hasn’t been without its difficulties. From rejected signage at headquarters due to planning permission issues through to struggles with app store requirements, the internal alignment seems to be lacking. Further evidence of this is shown in the undermining of the collaborative process of designing the new logo. Rather than involving the internal design team, the task of designing the new logo was given to users. Visual identity is crucial in conveying the new direction of a brand. So, while this crowdsourcing approach is innovative, it may not be conducive to establishing an impactful visual identity.

Rebranding is a complex task that requires careful planning, strategic execution, and internal alignment. While Elon Musk’s attempts are undeniably intriguing, they also serve as a case study of the potential obstacles of rebranding. The importance of preserving brand equity, managing public perception, introducing value, and ensuring internal alignment cannot be overstated. As the Twitter-to-X transition continues, it’s a reminder that even visionary leaders can stumble in the complex world of rebranding.

By: Inez Banson

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