Pop quiz: what’s a brand? Your brand isn’t just your logo or your preferred typeface. It’s the cumulative set of experiences people have with you. Over time, those experiences add up into brand expectations – what people know and want from you. (Which is why staying on brand matters.) These factors shape your brand equity, or basically the value of your brand to the market. The longer you’re around and the more consistent you are, the bigger the brand equity.
If, say, you’re a popular social media network with a 15-year history, a highly recognizable little bird icon, and with terms such as “Tweet” that have entered the dictionary, you probably have oh, about $20 billion dollars in brand equity. Fun fact: you can obliterate that overnight by haphazardly rebranding random bits of your brand!!
Over the weekend, Elon Musk (for reasons unknown to…well, anyone) very abruptly decided to replace the iconic Twitter logo with an X, and then announced plans to turn Twitter into a WeChat competitor with a new name, web address and branding. It was an announcement that made the whole world go Ruh Roh…because guys, there is enough chaos in the world right now!!
Rebranding: good when done well!
Now look, rebranding isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Brands “refresh” their brand identities all the time to make sure their branding aligns with what they’re all about and how the market is changing. These refreshes are generally incremental – think of them a bit like getting some Botox or changing up your makeup. Bigger rebrands happen as well. These typically happen when a brand has outgrown its initial branding (like if a brand called We Sell Fridges, now wants to sell other stuff), a merger or acquisition has happened, or the brand wants to pivot in a different direction.
The goal of a rebrand is to get your brand goals and customer perceptions in alignment. Done well, they’re an opportunity to “relaunch” in a way that shows you’re moving in a bright new direction. What do I mean by “done well”? Well, I mean in a strategic, coherent, holistic way that takes every element of your brand identity into account, from your brand pillars to your target audiences to your look and feel. In general, rebrands are in the works for a while before they’re rolled out seamlessly across all platforms – web, mobile, social, stationery, newsletters, packaging, etc etc.
Doing it the Musk Way Spells Brand Obliteration
If you’re thinking about doing a rebrand, basically, you want to do the OPPOSITE of what Elon Musk has done with Twitter/X. Here are some of the “do nots” I’ve spotted in just the early days of this impressive rebranding debacle. (I’m sure there are more to come!)
- Don’t cheap out! This is your BRAND we’re talking about!! Don’t pull an Elon and crowdsource logo ideas for free on a Saturday night. Pay professionals to do it properly. Talk to designers, branding and communications pros and external consultants to make sure you’re making smart, well-informed decisions.
- Don’t wing it! A rebrand isn’t just a coat of paint. It should be strategic, with a goal and purpose behind every decision. If there’s no cohesion to your plan and you and your execs are offering conflicting narratives, welp, that way lies messiness.
- Don’t rebrand to paper over missing strategy. The same way you shouldn’t cut your bangs because your relationship is going south, don’t rebrand to “save” your brand. Get your business strategy sorted first (or do both together). Musk saying that Twitter is now X doesn’t make the company more likely to win back advertisers or users – the platform actually needs to change to make that happen.
- Don’t piecemeal it! Flag that a rebrand (or “something exciting”) is coming, but then let it rip only when everything is ready to go. Your entire rebrand should happen seamlessly at one (1) time, not little bit by little bit. For example, currently, Twitter has the new “X” logo, but the other graphics still contain the bird, and users are still hitting the “Tweet” button. Make it make sense!
Considering a rebrand and want to make sure your social sticks the landing? Sign up for my Fan Firestarter Framework to ensure you’re doing it right!