The Curious Case of Twitter’s Rebranding as ‘X’
The Brand Power of Twitter
Twitter, one of the most prominent social media platforms, recently announced its rebranding as ‘X’, along with a new logo and brand identity. While this move may seem exciting, it poses a significant challenge in terms of SEO and brand recognition. Twitter has accumulated authority and established itself as a powerhouse in the digital world over the course of 17 years. With millions of ranking keywords and a dominant presence in search results, Twitter’s brand power cannot be overlooked.
Brand search goes beyond just the word “Twitter”. People often pair other search phrases with the platform’s name, such as “Taylor Swift Twitter” or “Fortnite Twitter”. Additionally, searches for prominent personalities, brands, and even memes often return brand-like signals. These brand signals contribute to the massive influence of the Twitter brand, driving over 18 million searches per month.
The Challenge for ‘X’
However, the challenge for the rebranded ‘X’ lies in recapturing this search volume and traffic. The majority of brand-like searches currently reference Twitter or associated brand terms directly. To regain this search volume in the long-term, ‘X’ will have to build a level of brand awareness where users actively search for terms like “Taylor Swift X” or “Fortnite X”. This will require significant effort and investment in establishing ‘X’ as a recognizable and authoritative brand.
The Confusing History of X.com
One of the hurdles that ‘X’ needs to overcome is the confusing history of X.com itself. Currently, X.com ranks for no keywords due to multiple ownership changes and redirects to Elon Musk’s broader brand portfolio. To fully understand the twists and turns of X.com, let’s take a trip down memory lane.
In the early years (1995-2000), X.com was an online banking site owned by Dave Weinstein. In 1999, Musk purchased the domain and launched the original X.com online banking site. However, due to various challenges and the merger with Confinity, the X.com brand gave way to different PayPal brands.
This trend continued over the years, with X.com being rebranded as “X-Finance” and later as “X-PayPal”. Musk’s departure as PayPal’s CEO in 2000 led to X.com redirecting to the PayPal site. The ‘X’ brand disappeared until it resurfaced as PayPal Labs in 2007. From PayPal Labs to X.commerce, the domain went through various iterations before ultimately being redirected to eBay’s corporate site in 2014.
In 2017, Musk repurchased X.com and gave it a new life as an intriguing placeholder. First, it redirected to The Boring Company’s page to buy a hat. Then, it showcased an under construction page reminiscent of the late 1990s. Eventually, it returned to a minimalist design featuring only the letter ‘x’. In 2023, X.com was redirected (302) to Twitter.com, where it stands today.
The Uncertain Future for ‘X’
The complex and uncertain history of X.com poses significant challenges for the rebranded ‘X’. With zero online brand equity and no existing rankings, X.com is essentially starting from scratch. Temporary redirection to Twitter.com is a short-term solution, but to regain the lost search volume and traffic, ‘X’ needs to become the permanent home of the brand.
The transition from Twitter to ‘X’ will likely result in a substantial loss of search traffic lasting anywhere from 3-6 months to over a year. It will require a focused effort to build brand awareness and establish ‘X’ as a recognized and authoritative entity in the minds of consumers.
While Twitter’s rebranding as ‘X’ may seem like a bold move, it presents significant challenges in terms of SEO and brand recognition. The power and influence of the Twitter brand cannot be underestimated, and ‘X’ has a long road ahead in building its own brand equity. With careful planning and strategic efforts, ‘X’ can forge its path and establish itself as a contender in the digital world.