Why Elon Musk really rebranded Twitter so fast

Twitter logo and X logo
(Image credit: Twitter / X)

Elon Musk's decision to rebrand Twitter as X wasn't completely unexpected. It was clear from the start that his idea was to use the social media platform to create an 'everything app' in the way that China's WeChat grew out of a messaging app to offer mobile payment services and more. 

What we didn't expect was for the rebrand to be introduced so quickly and so chaotically. But it seems that Musk ran out of patience with the Twitter blue bird and couldn't wait for a proper rebranding process (see our pick of the best new logos for more considered recent rebrands).

Twitter logo before and after - a blue bird and a white 'x' on black

The Twitter logo before and after (Image credit: Twitter)

According to a new biography of Musk by Walter Isaacson that's due for release this month, Twitter's CEO was initially amused when he strode into the offices in San Francisco after buying the company last year and found that the iconic Twitter logo was plastered all over the place.

But Isaacson says Musk ran out of patience, feeling that the chirpy bright blue bird clashed with his "serious" vision for the social media platform. According to an extract published by the Wall Street Journal, he announced that “All these damn birds have to go" before officially declaring that the platform would be renamed X, taking the name of his former online bank, X.com, which merged with Paypal-owned Confinity in 2001. Musk had wanted to rebrand Paypal as X but was overruled and ousted as CEO, something that makes the Twitter rebrand feel more like an attempt to settle unfinished business than a considered branding endeavour. 

X.com logo

The logo for the original X, the online bank that Musk founded with Harris Fricker, Christopher Payne and Ed Ho in 1999 (Image credit: X.com logo)

Not prepared to wait a minute longer, Musk took to Twitter itself to run an informal logo design competition inviting users to submit proposal for an X logo. The winning design, a generic Unicode character that involved no design work, was implemented the next day.

He also ordered that the Twitter logo be removed from the exterior of the San Francisco headquarters and that a huge luminous X be erected on its roof – two more hasty decisions that led to problems. Police halted the removal of the Twitter logo for a time because the company hadn't applied for permission for the work, while the X logo had to be removed because of complaints from neighbours about the light.

However, the Twitter logo history could have another intriguing turn if one organisation gets its way. A charity is asking Musk to donate the blue bird to its cause.

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Joseph Foley

Joe is a regular freelance journalist and editor at Creative Bloq. He writes news and features, updates buying guides and keeps track of the best equipment for creatives, from monitors to accessories and office supplies. A writer and translator, he also works as a project manager at London and Buenos Aires-based design and branding agency Hermana Creatives, where he manages a team of designers, photographers and video editors who specialise in producing photography, video content, graphic design and collaterals for the hospitality sector. He enjoys photography, particularly nature photography, wellness and he dances Argentine tango.