Xtinct: The death of the birdie and billions in brand equity.

As if Twitter wasn’t already hanging on by a thread due to the recent release of Meta’s competitor text post platform and plunging ad sales, on July 23, Elon Musk officially clipped the company’s wings by announcing a total rebrand to “X” and an Xile of all things avian – including the iconic logo and the word “tweet.”

According to analysts and brand agencies, it’s estimated that this decision took somewhere between a $4 billion and $20 billion blow to the company’s brand equity nest egg. So, let’s talk a little bit about why.

Earned Equity

Beloved brands aren’t born overnight, and this is certainly no exception, err, Xception. Since its launch in July 2006, Twitter steadily and rightfully earned its popularity and value, including the ever-coveted achievement of brand verbification. “Tweet it” and “retweet” have worked their way into our modern-day vernacular in the same way we say, “Google it” or “Venmo me.” Moving forward, posts will now be dubbed “X’s” – coincidentally like the term that implies a breakup.


Here at Crowley Webb, we’re no stranger to naming exercises. As part of our process, each name we present to a client is accompanied by a thoughtful rationale as to how we arrived at that option. In the case of X, the name is certainly in line with Elon Musk’s other ventures, such as SpaceX, xAI, and even his son, X Æ A-Xii. However, this continuity with the 24th letter of the alphabet doesn’t necessarily make it a good rationale for renaming Twitter.

Although other tech companies have made some name changes in recent years to account for growth and additional offerings (Google to Alphabet and Facebook to Meta), the names of their products remained intact, as did their brand equities. While X Corp. may have big plans for the future, including banking capabilities and creating a global marketplace, a rename and brand repositioning likely would have been more appropriate if and when these capabilities actually came to life.

Brand Recognition

We can all spot McDonald’s a mile away by its golden arches, same with Target and its iconic bullseye. When Dunkin’ dropped the “Donuts,” we still knew it was the same spot for a cruller and a cup of joe. And up until last week, even your grandma likely knew that little blue bird had something to do with “the Twitter.”

The abrupt update to the temporary, fan-designed art-deco X logo sent the platform’s brand recognition into Xtinction along with the bird. And it will likely only lead to more confusion when it is refined and updated per Elon’s plans.

As a company with a passion for brands, we’re eager to watch this all unfold. In the meantime, why not give us a follow on Threads?