How To Rebrand Successfully: 6 Lessons from Twitter’s Missteps
Twitter’s recent rebranding to “X” caused a reported loss in brand value of $4 to $20 billion dollars according to finance experts. It wiped out 15 years of equity built among its estimated 450 million users. It has also drawn criticism - from branding expert critiques, editorial cartoons, and even lawsuits from celebrities - on the strategy of rebranding and why a company like Twitter would put so much at risk.
When executed correctly, rebranding can be a powerful tool for businesses seeking to pivot their organizations toward the future. Business executives who have rebranded report the effort had a positive impact on business performance and was a good return on the investment. As a rebranding agency we guide clients through this process every day with the goal of avoiding the missteps what we have seen in the X rebranding. Here are some key practices to avoid in your rebranding journey:
Focus On the Customer, Not You - With a rebrand you have the extraordinary opportunity to stand up a fresh, new customer-centric brand with a bold new promise, and a modernized visual identity that brings color to that new brand positioning. Rebranding is not about you, your ego, your favorite name, and look. It is about what works more powerfully with your customers. It does not matter how much you like a particular letter or word, if it does not make a good brand name, you are steering off course from the start. Start with an updated customer brand promise and your name options will flow from there.
Pack That New Name With Meaning – One of the major milestones of a rebranding is adopting a new name that better reflects your work today and future aspirations. Make that name meaningful and intriguing. Make it conversation-sparking to kickstart your brand story. Avoid lifeless names – or letters –that fail to deliver impact.
Preserve Brand Equity – A tough challenge in rebranding is discerning the equity that a brand has built since its inception and how to retain those values while letting go of outdates aspects (and even baggage). It is not often that a brand builds an entire lexicon around its use like Twitter did. People who do not use the social platform knew its name, knew what a tweet is, understood what a retweet was. That is so rare and part of the brand value that you do not want to lose when rebranding.
Deliver on the Change – A rebrand should not only signal a strategic pivot -- new products or services, distribution improvements to reach new audiences -- but deliver on the goods. X merely stated it will be “the everything app” but didn’t offer a timeline on when users can enjoy these enhancements. The spotlight is on you in a rebrand, show more than just a new name and logo.
Engage, Not Upset, Customers – Rebranding is the opportunity to reconnect with old customers, nourish newer ones, and tempt prospective customers away from competitors. Avoid surprising and confusing them. Customers should be nodding their support of your news, not complaining, critiquing, or protesting against your rebrand as many did with the X announcement. Strategize in advance on how to handle potential disappoint in your change and work to mitigate concerns so they are not expressed publicly.
Seamless Execution – Rebranding a business requires a well-sequenced conversion of your many customer-facing branded assets, such as digital platforms, building signage, uniforms, and for some companies, vehicles. Converting more assets to the new brand on your launch day supports the change versus spreading these out over time. Changing its name to X but leaving Tweets and Retweets and bird logos on its app just drew ridicule versus admiration and praise.
Preview, Pronounce, Promote – Rebranding is an exercise in change management. Inform and educate your stakeholders about the reasons for the rebrand and its benefits to them. Announce the new name and brand enthusiastically and in unison. Promote the new brand extensively over several months, telling the story, sharing its intent, reporting on the excitement it has generated among your employees and customers.
By learning from Twitters misfortune, you can ensure a successful rebranding exercise without the hastily executed missteps. Embrace these simple practices to shape up a compelling and powerful new brand.