Branding Strategies for Trending Transformation

Hype is good. Empty hype is not.

Twitter…err, X…is under pressure. Meta’s competitor Threads recently launched to huge fanfare (see my analysis: Don’t be a Twit(ter): How to build strategic resilience). Elon Musk needed to respond, but by doing something different. 

  • Add features? Nope
  • Tackle cyber-bullying? Nope
  • Fix the blue verification system? Nope

Instead, we have a brilliant marketing tactic: Get your users to design a new brand! Over the weekend Musk issued a challenge to submit designs and behold, a new one has appeared. The blue bird is no more.

But why? I have no idea. Yes, there is talk of turning the Twitter/X ship towards a new ‘super-app’ but that’s conjecture. We have no idea where this company is going. Empty hype. Overnight, Mr. Musk trashed a loved mascot, converting it to something which means nothing.

Should you create or update a brand for a transformation effort? Yes! This is how to do it right:

1. Make it LOUD!
Who wants to follow something dull? The whole point of a brand is to draw attention and act as a focal point. X marks the spot, but then what? Consider:

  • Colour and uniqueness. It has to be attractive. Will it hold the eye for a moment?
  • Meaning is optional. It doesn’t have to represent an aspect of the project (the Phoenix has been overused). Think about simple brand images like Apple, Forbes, and IBM.
  • Simplicity sells. Brand images are not complicated. It shouldn’t be hard to figure out what I’m looking at. Minimalist design is a great approach for branding.

2. Build a new narrative
A strong brand launch requires a storyline to give it meaning. What is the goal of the project the brand is intended to represent? What is the destination? How will lives be different? For guidance on developing a narrative, see my recent publication in CEOWorld: How to Successfully Launch and Sell Your Vision.

3. Tag it
Many brands also have a slogan or tagline to make them easy to remember. What are the key points that come from the narrative? Brief soundbites make it memorable.

  • Performance with purpose
  • From obsolescence to outstanding
  • Transforming people-driven processes 

4. Press repeat
Use the new brand and associated tags and stories everywhere appropriate. Embed it quickly into communications. Include a representative icon or the tagline in email subject lines so project messaging is easily identified.

5. Measure it
Big companies regularly test the perception of their brand to determine what needs to be changed. Doing so provides a heads-up on potential resistance points. If your program is losing credibility you need to know so you can take action, otherwise you will never achieve the change you desire.

If you’re wondering where to begin, I recommend caution when asking employees to contribute. Few are true artists and a host of rejections can damage enthusiasm for the project. If you have an internal graphics team, start there. if not, I’ve used many times to request five sample logos and have frequently received great designs. From there you can ask employees to vote on their favorites.

Right now, Twitter is adrift. An ‘X’ won’t fix that. Branding can do wonders to crystallize focus on a project, but only when using all five of the tactics to create momentum.

Thoughtfully yours,
Jeff Skipper

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