Free as a bird
Following the news that Elon Musk is set to stand down as Twitter CEO, could a rebrand be just what the social media firm needs? Transform gets the thoughts of experts in the brand and design community.
Adrian Pring, director of brand strategy | Principle
With Elon Musk swiftly relinquishing his Twitter CEO role (the result of a yes/no referendum of its users – a solid approach to strategic decision-making, but that’s owner’s prerogative), brand will be top of the new CEO’s inbox.
This is a moment for subtle, symbolic change (like Twitter’s 2012 rebrand). The logo should reflect Musk’s desire for Twitter to be a “platform for free speech around the world”, balanced with a need to ground tweets in fact. We would reangle the Twitter bird, representing the brand swooping down as it hunts for the truth (not to be misinterpreted as aligning with downward projections of monthly active users). The logo should move from Facebook Blue to Elon Black. As part of Musk’s empire, the bird’s eye could be an interpretation of the Tesla logo; a subtle endorsement to create premium associations as it monetizes its blue tick mark and launches its ad-free subscription.
Successful rebrand complete, the CEO should get on with the secondary task of fixing the culture, setting out their ambitions for moderating complex, influential social media and clarifying the role of AI and third-party integrations.
David Kimpton, executive creative director | Kimpton Creative
I almost wonder whether Elon Musk has killed Twitter, even after having stepped down as CEO! We have all seen enough of him as ‘Chief Twit’ to know whether we want to be a part of his world. Having said that, it is possible that someone will rebuild Twitter’s reputation with some kind of rebirth, or ‘clips its wings’ to manage negative perceptions.
Perhaps at its simplest, the bird shouldn’t be flying free! But whatever happens, I don’t think it should stay the same – the brand has become toxic. Which is sad. To some, Twitter is a lifeline, a way of having a social life even and an important vehicle for discussing issues.
In that spirit, I offer up some initial directions to reflect what is perhaps a doomed brand (and will I then get chucked off Twitter?)
Jonathan Trimble, co-founder and CEO, and Adrienne Little, partner | And Rising
Twitter still has the chance to be a positive, profitable, tech superpower, but not without an urgent shift in focus. At the moment, the market is railing hard against Twitter: the sharpest decline in advertiser trust (and revenue) known to any media platform in history, a lack of perceived value in a subscription-based model, all whilst Trump jumps back on the platform. By prioritising positive impact and reliable news sources over outrage-baiting tactics and the pumping of Tesla stock by its new owner, Twitter could create the open global town square where ideas and citizenship are shared freely.
Twitter should appoint an editorial board, made up of credible journalists and editors - offering a definition of what it means by ‘No twits, just tweets’. For example:
- Respect people as having commitments, relationships, hopes, vulnerabilities and values
- Respect the dignity and intelligence of its audience
- Respect our duty towards the planet and the finite resources we share
- Respect users as stakeholders in the platform – and where possible, afford them the opportunity to participate in the profits, beyond sharing content for attention
- Respect and favour fact checked, peer-reviewed data
- Create new problems for people in order to solve them
- Sow division, hate or suspicion
- Make people feel angry, inadequate, insecure or afraid
- Stereotype, label or put people in boxes
- Be sexist or racist
- Exploit sensitive information about individuals
- Regard people as endless machines of consumption and outrage
Miro Laflaga, co-founder and brand strategist | Six Cinquième
Oh my, where do we start? First and foremost, I am giving my perspective as a brand strategist and active user of Twitter. However, to be very transparent, my usage of Twitter has changed drastically, especially since Elon took over. Now, with the looming thought that he might be stepping down, many are asking what Twitter should do next in regards to its brand - should they rebrand, or change their logo?
Personally, when it comes to its visual identity, Twitter doesn’t need to do anything. Their icon and everything tied to it are embedded in people’s minds at this point. So, what should they do? The focus should go back towards the common users and the overall experience of the platform. What was great about Twitter before Jack Dorsey stepped down was that they proactively listened to their users.
Remember when they tried to add stories? Users hated that, but they came out and were transparent, saying they were experimenting and took our feedback. Twitter was unique because it was one of the few social media platforms that wasn’t trying to do everything and actually listened to its users. It's a different story when you look at Instagram and TikTok, where Instagram is notorious for copying TikTok features.
Twitter made it clear that their goal is to generate revenue and they are pushing heavily towards it. However, with this push, it alienates many who did not opt-in for Twitter Blue and who contributed to the success of Twitter. What about them? What about their needs? Elon’s leadership tactics put an authoritarian umbrella over the company, where it's basically ‘my way or the highway’.
That’s not what Twitter is about. It’s a platform that is about sharing and starting conversations. The company needs to embrace that again. Get feedback on features, get users involved in the process, be open about their mistakes, and be open to criticism.
Twitter doesn’t have a visual brand issue; it has a user experience issue. Twitter should focus on improving the overall user experience and actively listen to its users, and embrace its values of sharing and starting conversations.
Nick Vaus, Paul Domenet, Daisy Brunt, Matt Taylor, Matt Gilpin | Free the Birds
Twitter has long lived as a platform to express your views and opinions on subjects current and longstanding, controversial and silly. But recently we seem to let our thoughts fly into the world with less consideration for others, unwilling to listen and experience an opinion that differs from our own.
This new direction encourages users to not only express themselves but listen to others and find joy in respectful conversation, which is why our little bird has grown up into a wise owl.
The introduction of the two symmetrical sides reminds us of our love of dialogue, discourse and conversation and that each of the sides in that debate are equal.
Messaging-wise we want to reassert Twitter's unique value as a tool for communicating views but also to champion considered commentary, with the added brand line ‘Let’s be wise with our words’.
It would seem that the network these days has a lot of people just abusing each other, being idiots and making comments they would never dare from behind a computer screen – the definition of being a 'twat'. Or ‘a foolish or despicable person’.
So why not embrace that and make two channels which are controlled by AI. If your post, comment or thread is deemed original, quality and of use to society then it loads to the Twitter feed. If it's deemed obnoxious, abusive, rude, more fun or unhelpful to society, then it lands on the Twatter feed.
- Twatter – the cheeky fun part of the network for poking fun and having a laugh
- Twitter – the more serious news bite, critical information and updates from companies.