The brilliantly divisive Elon Musk has yet again set the internet alight with his sudden – and somewhat clumsy – rebrand of Twitter to simply ‘X’.
Gone is the familiar blue bird logo that’s gained near iconic status around the world. Now, just a white-on-black ‘art deco’ X denotes one of the world’s biggest brands – and it’s not exactly been a popular or smooth transition.
Musk believes it’s vital that Twitter… sorry, ‘X’, undergoes this change to reflect his bold new vision for the company which he famously acquired in late 2022. He believes X shouldn’t be just a social messaging platform, but rather an “everything app” that includes facilities for virtually any aspect of modern living – including shopping and banking.
Whilst Musk may believe the change is necessary for the company’s survival and ongoing evolution, its launch has been met with widespread confusion. In fact, according to some business experts, the rebrand wiped out an estimated $4 billion worth of brand value that was once associated with the pervasiveness of the Twitter brand.
It isn’t just the world of business that can’t get its head around X. For example, a snap poll from Forrester revealed that 43% of people thought the Twitter name change to X was a mistake. In addition, YouGov reported that 67% of Twitter users had a negative reaction to the rebrand.
Clearly, the introduction of X has been chaotic and dividing. But, the big question is, why?
Just what is X?
Although Musk has generated an enormous amount of free press coverage for X’s launch, the consensus amongst the press and industry experts is that X’s introduction has been something of a car crash. This is because an instantly recognisable – and valuable – brand has been wiped out virtually overnight. Its replacement is unfamiliar, has multiple connotations, and doesn’t appear to have consistent reasoning or advocacy (aside from Musk) behind it.
In addition, its rollout – aside from the huge amount of press coverage – has been performed incredibly poorly. In fact, there are still question marks over the name being able to be trademarked in certain countries or regions. As a result, it’s managed to alienate huge numbers of both its users and employees in one fell swoop. Plus, it’s unclear whether this huge gamble will be the success Musk believes it will be, or a monumental failure.
‘But hang on!’ you’re probably thinking. ‘What’s this got to do with HR exactly?’. Well, that’s a very good question!
How HR can support successful company rebrands
When we think about who’s responsible for company rebrands (or even just brand identities), marketing departments will often bear the brunt of responsibility for their success or failure. However, HR teams also have a hugely important role to play in company branding – and HR professionals can learn a lot from the current Twitter-X debacle.
By actively supporting an organisation’s brand, HR teams help create a strong and cohesive workforce that embraces the brand values, delivers a consistent brand experience, and contributes to the overall success and reputation of an organisation.
The same can be said when it comes to rebranding a business. By involving HR at the very start of a company’s rebranding process, organisations can effectively manage the vital human aspect of change, ensure cultural alignment, and build a strong and cohesive workforce that supports, resonates and advocates the brand.
With all that in mind, lets look at the activities HR can undertake to support the rollout of a successful company rebrand.
1. Develop a communication strategy
With your marketing teams hard at work developing a new brand identity, as an HR professional, you’ll play an important role in how it’ll be introduced to your employees. After all, if you’re undergoing a name change or brand overhaul, you’ll want all your employees to understand its purpose, the goal/s you’re looking to achieve, and be actively part of the change.
Conducting workshops is a great way to communicate a new brand identity and educate employees on what it means for both them and the wider business. Workshops can also foster a sense of ownership and enthusiasm with your workforce when it comes to representing your company’s new identity.
You should also consider ‘teasers’ for the launch of your new brand. These could be in the form of internal company emails or posts on shared workspaces on the run-up to your new brand’s launch. This will help get the attention of your employees, and build a sense of anticipation for what’s to come.
Although your marketing teams will undoubtedly be looking at how to promote a new brand from a commercial and public perspective, your employees – especially ones who are customer facing – can also help be its biggest advocates.
2. Make resources easily accessible
Deciding to rebrand a business is no small thing. A brand is a company’s entire identity, and employees who resonate with that brand may find it tough to adapt to a new name, identity or cultural ethos. As an HR professional, you can help make the transition to a new brand identity smoother for employees by offering resources for them to refer to.
For example, using your shared workspaces or HR portals, you can share documents such as brand guidelines, assets and vision and value statements. This means employees will always be able to access accurate information on your new brand and become familiar with it on their own terms.
3. Offer more formal training
Collaborate with your company’s marketing and branding teams to create comprehensive training materials that outline the new brand’s values, positioning, and visual identity. You could also initiate more 1-1 training at departmental levels to address specific needs and challenges faced by different departments within your business.
4. Get senior leader buy-in
For any workshops or training you implement, involve your senior leaders to amplify the key messaging of the new brand. They should ideally be acting as brand advocates, too. Answering questions from employees and highlighting why the new brand identity is necessary. This will help demonstrate their commitment to the new brand and set a good example for the rest of your workforce.
5. Take ownership of your HR team’s assets
To ensure your brand launch is consistent across the business, look to take an inventory of the HR-related materials that will need updating. These could include such things as employee handbooks, policy documents, recruitment and training materials.
One of the biggest changes you may need to make is with your HR software platform – especially if it’s ‘hard coded’ or is a generic ‘off the shelf’ solution with limited editability. Luckily, modern HR software solutions such as Cezanne HR can be easily edited by users to match their brand – even if it’s completely changed. Colour schemes are editable, custom terminologies / fields are available, and you even have the option to re-name it!
Of course, updating all your HR material may take some time depending on the size of your business. But, you can help make the rollout of a new brand identity an internal success within your organisation by cataloguing what needs changing and which materials should take priority.
6. Monitor progress and encourage dialogue
Once your company’s new brand identity has been launched, monitor its progress by encouraging open dialogue with your employees. You can do this by having open discussions and Q&A sessions during training to gather feedback about the new brand, fostering a sense of inclusion and ownership.
Another good way to monitor the success and progress of your company’s rebrand is to initiate a pulse survey. By asking your employees simple yes / no questions such as:
- ‘I understand the purpose of our new brand identity’, ‘
- ‘Our organisation has done a good job of introducing our new brand identity’,
- or ‘The values of our business are closely aligned with my own’
you can get a better understanding of the success of your brand rollout within your business. Learn more about pulse surveys and how they can be implemented here.