Elon Musk鈥檚 Brand Universe, Inspired by Five Tweets

The rebrand of Twitter to X is big news in the brand world. Rather than pile on to the punditry, I thought it would be fun to add to the commentary about this change by sharing broader observations about his branding choices drawing from the content of five of his recent tweets (X鈥檚?).

Here goes鈥

1. 鈥淔uturistic Art Deco鈥

Elon mentioned this phrase in an earlier tweet saying, 鈥淚f X is closest to anything it should, of course, be Art Deco鈥.

Is this meant to be inspiration for the visual identity? I鈥檓 not seeing other related visual changes to the Twitter/X experience. A major identity change for a company without a corresponding change in the experience is tough for people to follow. Low coherence makes people feel uneasy. This feels like meaningless inspiration that hasn鈥檛 been applied anywhere other than as a fleeting reference for a random logo choice.

2. 鈥淢otion graphic from Doge Designer鈥

Two observations come to mind with this one鈥

The first is there鈥檚 a frame that literally shows 鈥淴XX.鈥 Many people have highlighted the fact there鈥檚 a risk X is perceived as related to adult content. This risk was confirmed 23 years ago by focus groups when Elon tried to rebrand another company to X. This unfortunate design choice makes an explicit association to porn that can鈥檛 be unseen.

Next, the motion graphic was created by DogeDesigner, which brings up Elon鈥檚 crypto currency crush. If X is meant to 鈥渂ecome half of the world鈥檚 financial system鈥 (one of Elon鈥檚 many ambitions), then the next question is what currency is he thinking of using? Dogecoin started as a joke currency, but he keeps referring to it. It鈥檚 up 9% in value since more of his cryptic tweets linked X to Dogecoin. Is there a method to the madness? Dogecoin founder Jackson Palmer has called Musk a 鈥渟elf-absorbed grifter鈥 so maybe not. Let鈥檚 also not forget Elon replaced the Twitter logo with something else earlier this year: the Doge meme. It might have been an April Fool鈥檚 joke, but the massive loss in the financial value of Twitter since Elon鈥檚 purchase is not.

3. SpaceX retweet 鈥 鈥淧ropellant load tests recently completed for Starship Super Heavy Boosters 9 and 10鈥.

Again, two thoughts here鈥

Given the erratic and incomplete nature of this rebrand, I would not go to space in one of Elon鈥檚 rockets. I鈥檓 increasingly worried about the safety of a Tesla car, and a Tesla battery.

The SpaceX logo is another interesting branding choice by Elon. It looks like he stole two thirds of the Reebok logo, inverted it, and called it good. Thinking about his expanding empire of X named businesses, he now also has a visual identity challenge in that he has two 鈥淴鈥檚鈥 that don鈥檛 family well together. Maybe doesn鈥檛 have extraterrestrial aspirations and will remain limited to Earth, so it doesn鈥檛 matter? One X for Earth and one X for space? Sounds good for now I guess. Perhaps a future rebrand could restore interplanetary brand harmony.

4. Starlink retweet 鈥 鈥淪tarlink is now available in Malaysia etc鈥.鈥

Besides the gold verified stamp for Starlink (what does gold vs. blue mean again?), there鈥檚 also a small icon of the SpaceX logo. That鈥檚 because Starlink is a division of SpaceX. Do people know that? Do people care? The logo is a bit confusing. Maybe all these companies can be divisions of X in the future?

Since Elon is clearly obsessed with X, I see another opportunity for a quick rebrand. There are multiple Starlink satellites, so why not rename the company 鈥淪tarlinX鈥? What type of 鈥淴鈥 to use in the logo could be solved by crowdsourcing ideas and paying a $30 licensing fee for the chosen icon (probably not a typeface). Now that I think more about it, finding a way to connect the new X to the rest of the StarlinX word could be hard, though. He might have to hire some professionals.

5. 鈥淥ur headquarters tonight鈥

The use of 鈥渙ur鈥 is hard to take. Elon has laid off 80% of Twitter/X staff, and it doesn鈥檛 sound like employees who are left had much say in the new name of the company. Knowing Elon still owes $500 million in unpaid severance for those he laid off just makes me feel sad. This is a hollow building and a hollow brand. Companies and brands need teams of inspired people to make them run. New brands are empty vessels that require meaning to be built into them over time. I hope the employees who remain can find a way to make it theirs, not just his.

Thinking more broadly, if Elon truly does want to 鈥渢ransform the global town square,鈥 he鈥檚 going to have to welcome us all back in. The main question is, does anyone want to enter Elon鈥檚 universe anymore?