Twitter to X: a rebrand to challenge tech giants and empower users

4 August, 2023
Twitter to X: a rebrand to challenge tech giants and empower users | News | Pause Awards
Ben Flint Principal, Supernormal Agency
Ben Flint
4 August, 2023

Twitter is now X — and the one thing marketing gurus and contrarians have in common is their condemnation of it, with Mark Ritson leading the charge in his column, “12 reasons why Twitter’s rebrand to X is a mistake”.

I beg to differ, here’s why:

  1. This was a rebrand public execution

The first act in a calculated spectacle.

Musk flipped the bird, by killing the bird — and swapped it for a temporary and unimpressive ‘X’ logo. The outcry over this temporary typeface is nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction to change. But don’t be deceived.

This is not a misstep, but a daring prelude. Musk knows how to play the game: set up a decoy for the contrarian seagulls to shit on, attract criticism, earn engagement, and then prepare the stage for the real unveiling. It’s classic Musk. 

Mark your calendars: the real ‘X’ rebrand event is coming — and if you think the bird’s death was a show, buckle up. This will be the stage where the facade falls, and the curtain rises on the real ‘X’. The logo is the tip of the iceberg. We’re not just talking about a facelift, but a full on metamorphosis.

Only time will tell if this revolution will succeed in Musk’s grand design, but for now, we’re all invited to witness the rebirth of a platform. 

The key now? Execution. 

You win, you’re the genius who saw tomorrow. You lose, you’re the maverick who bet the house and lost. Either way, you’re not forgotten — but one thing’s for sure — the bird is dead.

  1. What does this mean for advertisers? 

Critics are sounding the alarm that advertisers feel uncomfortable at the mere thought of this mysterious ‘X’ and so-called “weird Elon stuff.” According to them, Twitter was predictable, familiar and therefore safe for brands (it wasn’t).

But if advertisers truly favoured a static environment over rapid evolution, the Mad Men of Madison Avenue would be running the show, not the Math Men of Silicon Valley. But here we are. Advertisers may act resistant to change, but they traded in Martinis for machine learning quicker than you can say RoAS. They’re like sharks in a feeding frenzy, not caring about the nature of the platforms, just craving a taste of the audience — they’d invest in smoke signals if the audience was there. X is shaping up to be a platform that evolves with their needs, attracts audiences, and constantly reinvents. That’s not just an opportunity, it’s an advertiser’s dream come true.

Twitter, X, Elon Musk
  1. What does it mean for consumers?

You, me, your assistant, and the guy she told you not to worry about, all share this in common: we want dopamine. The fact that you’re even reading something long form is rather astonishing, so don’t quit now, listen to Sheryl: lean in. Because generally, we flock to wherever that dopamine hit comes the strongest, and the fastest. And creators will go to wherever they can distribute dopamine the widest, the fastest.

How fast? Faster than Tik. Tok. 

TikTok exploded onto the scene, and despite initial scepticism, consumers flocked – no, they swarmed, like honeybees discovering a planet made of pollen. And why? You guessed it, dopamine. Creators’ reasons were no different, as getting likes and making money releases the good stuff too, to a point. And don’t think for a second they’re beholden to the platform. If a new one offering higher engagement and better monetisation options pops up, you bet they’ll be packing their bags. That’s the game here – it’s not about platform loyalty, it’s about chasing the high (and the money).

  1. So why kill the bird? Did it need to be X? 

This is the stuff Harvard Business School case studies are made of. Now, if Clayton Christiansen, the architect of disruptive strategy, was still alive, he’d give a smiling nod.

Why? Here’s a gem Clay dropped while I was his student: “Disruption is not a dance for the dinosaur brands, it’s the agile, hustling newcomers that can run unencumbered, fast, and can zero in on overlooked niches.” You bet I wrote that one down.

Twitter, as we know it, was shackled by its own legacy (AKA its own brand) – it couldn’t venture into the areas ‘X’ is now exploring without jeopardising its identity. But ‘X’? It’s got carte blanche. It’s flexible, nimble, and importantly, it’s not burdened by the expectations of being Twitter.

You try converting a sailing ship into a nuclear submarine — you’ll find that they’re built for entirely different oceans, and retrofitting one to the other is a voyage fraught with peril. 

Twitter, X, Elon Musk

The Everything App

  1. ‘X’ has been on the offensive:

From Twitter’s defensive missteps to ‘X’s strategic innovation, the transformation is intriguing, no? Fifty-seven features and upgrades in a mere nine months? That’s not iteration, it’s a declaration of war on stagnation. The competitive advantage? Speed of innovation. Where does this lead? Everywhere.

‘X’ is eyeing Signal and WhatsApp’s territory with encrypted messaging and a high-calibre DM experience; it’s challenging YouTube by offering 3-hour videos coupled with an unparalleled creator revenue deal; it’s invading finance with real-time stock trading, tracking and p2p fund transfers; and Linkedin, you can now post job vacancies at your company — and it’s set to neuter Substack, allowing up to 25,000 character posts – that’s enough space to publish ‘that novel you’ve been working on’.

Zoom out. These are merely the features rolling out right now — X is just getting started. Who wins here? Creators. Creator revenue is already being distributed and this makes creators ecstatic — the first X millionaires will be minted this year — and happy creators lead to sprawling audiences, satisfied advertisers, and a thriving ecosystem. This ain’t your grandma’s Twitter anymore – this is ‘X’ — and it’s already starting to look like a super app.

Twitter, X, Elon Musk
  1. Why is now the time for a Super App?

The western consumer internet goes through phases. It bundles, then unbundles, and re-bundles again, until monopolies inevitably form.This cycle, and the general idea of monopolies may be unsavoury, but it’s a reality we can’t ignore. It’s like a digital version of musical chairs. China leapfrogged this cycle, going straight from no connectivity to SuperApps like WeChat and AliPay.

Let’s take Craigslist’s unbundling — it sparked a trillion-dollar baby boom, with firms like eBay, Airbnb, and Airtasker — those being the winners, but there’s thousands of firms plagued by outrageous valuations and unrealistic expectations which will force these companies into the hands of Meta, Google and Microsoft. What do you think Google is, if not a Super App? The apprehension about ‘X’ or Super Apps might be misplaced; perhaps we should be looking at the reality we’ve already accepted.

Twitter, X, Elon Musk
  1. The WeChat of the West.

Living in China and navigating daily life with WeChat / AliPay for years, I came to rely on the  convenience these Super Apps offer in navigating societal interactions — the streamlined services, the interconnected platforms, the seamless integration into everyday life. For consumers, it’s a one-stop digital hub. For advertisers, it’s a goldmine of data, engagement and interaction (ie crack).

Twitter, X, Elon Musk
  1. The taste of a Superapp without the calories of Communism.

Sure, WeChat’s issues on privacy, censorship and control mirror the system it operates within, but that doesn’t tarnish the Super App concept itself. The West is free to feast on the buffet of convenience without scoffing down the side servings of state surveillance and control.

TikTok remains a digital mouthpiece for the CCP, right in the pocket of 7 in 10 children of the western world, 🚩who spend 95 minutes per day under its spell 🚩.  There’s THE red flag every parent and government should really be looking out for.

If vertical video on X can disrupt TikTok, who wins? Parents. Governments. Western values. Me, You, Society at large. 

Twitter, X, Elon Musk
  1. Concerned about the consolidation power? X could be the Antidote.

The looming possibility of monopolies is certainly unsettling. As the Western consumer internet heads towards inevitable consolidation, the tech giants are ready to acquire or destroy anything that stands in their path.

Look at Zuckerberg’s playbook. Rip off your platform, assimilate it into his empire, or just buy you out to shut you down. It’s not about innovation; it’s a brute-force power grab. Same goes for the Death Star that was Microsoft when the Darth Vader of antitrust, Bill Gates, was at the helm, until the greatest deposition in history.

So, as the incumbents consolidate power and influence, ‘X’ offers a counter-narrative — an open-source, democratic, and transparent alternative that champions the interests of the many, not the few. It’s fair to ask — how does ‘X’ do this without becoming another bad actor? Well…

By putting users first

I’m not saying X is selling a utopia, but it’s attempting to address a serious challenge. It’s pushing for a platform where innovation, transparency, and the community drive decisions — not just the next advertising dollar.

  1. The Value of Values:

The fight for user rights and freedoms is a noble one, and it’s clear that ‘X’ is stepping into the ring and not pulling punches.

Apple’s comms team claims, “Privacy is a human right,” and that’s a noble statement that generates a high ROI for the millions they paid Media Art Labs for the strategy. Elon Musk is declaring, “free speech, truth and privacy are worth paying $44bn for.” This isn’t just a profitable PR ploy, but a desperate response to an untrustworthy socio-digital landscape.

Contrast that with today’s Darth Vader: Zuckerberg. His seemingly insatiable appetite for showing you ads would have him auction off your teenager to the highest bidder, if it meant boosting his bottom line — which is his actual business model.

  1. Validating X’s commitment to truth: Community Notes

‘X’s ‘Community Notes’ isn’t just a feature; it’s a truth-seeking revolution that shifts power from deceivers to everyday users.

Think of it like an upvoted Reddit comment rising to the top of the comments section, but for facts and context. When users identify a false claim in a post, they can add their own notes to it, sourcing information and providing unbiased clarification. These notes don’t just appear; they must reach consensus among a large array of disagreeing Community-Noters. Only the Notes that are directly addressing the tweet’s claim, citing high-quality sources, free of biassed language, and clear in explanation get enough support to be visible to all users. It’s not just a feature; it’s a democratic way of validating and/or refuting information. Is it a game changer? No. It is a world changer.

Every post, every ad, every video can now face the scrutiny of the community. Misleading influencers, dishonest ad-makers, crafty politicians — they’ve been put on notice — the peddlers of deceit no longer have safe refuge (outside of the Zuckerverse, anyway).

Just last week, a viral video, exposed as a fraud on ‘X’, went unchallenged on other platforms and likely fuelled the week with nervous dinner party chatter. And over the past two decades, this has likely happened more times than a supercomputer could count. 

This feature takes us from the era of passive consumption into the new age of active truth-finding. 

If you think this feature makes partisan media corporations on both sides of the aisle nervous, trust your instincts.

So they’ll probably tell you Elon is crazy / unhinged and that ‘X’ is a dangerous place. Is it? For them, yes. 

Twitter, X, Elon Musk
  1. Steering the ship: New Leadership, New culture.

Let’s address the elephant in the room. X / Twitter has seen better days. Enter the new CEO, Linda Yaccarino, a veteran who’s no stranger to the battlefield. Falling ad revenues and a morale crisis among staff might seem daunting to most, but familiar to Yaccarino, who has a track record of wartime leadership and turnaround prowess. With Yaccarino at the helm, X isn’t just poised for a comeback; a tidal wave of attention and consumer spending is coming.

  1. Why X matters for your brand.

Smart brands don’t wait; they innovate — and these brands are already allocating capital to X, riding the tidal wave of consumer spending that X is generating — harnessing the early value of a media in its nascent phase. ‘X’ is poised to evolve into a consumer tech juggernaut unseen since the dawn of mobile technology.

Are you ready to ride the wave or will you watch from the shore as your competitors seize the moment?

One might quickly label me an Elon Stan,’ assuming I believe every Elon move is pure genius. But as the continued threat of TikTok as a weapon of mass propaganda, and as Meta’s products continue to be linked to damaging consequences for users (namely teens),  X’s focus on being “the least untruthful network” with the “lowest regretted user minutes”’ on the platform is good for users, good for parents, and great for brands.

Amidst the uncertainty, one thing is becoming clear: ‘X’ is inevitable, and the brands that acknowledge this now will secure their growth for the next decade. 

Welcome to the future, I’ll see you on X.

I deeply appreciate your time and attention in reading this article. If it resonated with you or sparked some thoughts, please feel free to let me know or share it with others. For more insights and reflections like these, I invite you to join me at ‘Flintsnotes,’ where we continue to explore the ever-changing landscape of technology and society. Thank you for being part of this conversation.

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