Twitter to X: Five other companies that saw controversial rebranding exercises

From Coca-Cola’s marketing blunder to the renaming of Facebook, here are some rebranding exercises that received mixed reviews from consumers.

Twitter to X: Five other companies that saw controversial rebranding exercises
(Clockwise from top left) Twitter’s rebranding to X, Meta Platforms, Mastercard and Coca-Cola. (Photos: REUTERS/Carlos Barria, Yves Herman, Dado Ruvic and AP/Gene J Puskar)

SINGAPORE: Twitter is now simply X.

And tweets should be called “x’s” – at least according to Elon Musk on Monday (Jul 24) as he launched a rebranding of the social media platform.

“We must bid adieu to the bird,” Musk said, killing off one of technology’s most iconic logos.

The billionaire’s connection to the letter X goes back 24 years when he founded, which later was renamed PayPal despite his objections.

His space exploration company is called SpaceX and the parent company of Twitter was changed to X earlier this year.

“It’s a completely irrational business and brand decision,” Allen Adamson, brand expert and co-founder of Metaforce said of the Twitter rebranding.

“But there was no good story left, I think, for Elon on Twitter. There was no good news. There was nothing about his Twitter acquisition that would make him look like a successful business person.”

Here are five other companies that rebranded with varying and sometimes controversial results.


Facebook changed its corporate name to Meta in October 2021.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at the time that the new name reflects the company’s work in building the metaverse.

“Right now, our brand is so tightly linked to one product that it can’t possibly represent everything that we’re doing today, let alone in the future,” Zuckerberg said then.

Meta owns Facebook, Instagram, Threads and WhatsApp.

Around the time of the rebranding, Meta was dealing with the fallout from a Facebook whistleblower who leaked internal documents suggesting that the company chose profits over safety in managing societal harms.

According to American business magazine Fast Company, citing a poll, Meta experienced a significant drop in public trust following its announcement that it was changing its corporate name.

A separate survey by market research platform SightX found that 47 per cent of respondents believed that the rebranding to Meta was a poor idea.

FILE PHOTO: A smartphone with Facebook’s logo is seen in front of displayed Facebook’s new rebrand logo Meta in this illustration taken October 28, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/


Coca-Cola’s decision to introduce New Coke in 1985 is often cited as one of the most infamous rebranding disasters.

In an attempt to combat Pepsi’s growing market share in the United States, Coca-Cola reformulated its classic soft drink, claiming it would taste better.

But it backfired. Consumers preferred the original version.

By its own admission, Coca-Cola said on its website: “April 23, 1985, was a day that will live in marketing infamy.

“On that day, The Coca‑Cola Company took arguably the biggest risk in consumer goods history, announcing that it was changing the formula for the world’s most popular soft drink, and spawning consumer angst the likes of which no business has ever seen.”

The company brought back the original formula less than three months later.

The new coke. (Image: The Coca-Cola Company)


Darlie, a toothpaste brand popular in Asia, started efforts at rebranding in 2020.

This came amid the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in the United States that prompted companies like Quaker and Mars to tweak the branding of their products.

Darlie’s name in Mandarin translates to “black person toothpaste”.

Despite announcing in June 2020 that it was working to review the name of the product, Colgate-Palmolive didn’t change it until about two years later.

It is now known in China as Haolai, which echoes the Chinese name of Colgate’s Hong Kong-based joint venture partner Hawley & Hazel.

The company said the change exemplifies Darlie’s brand belief of “Good Things Come with a Smile”. The English name and logo, however, remain unchanged.

It wasn’t Darlie’s first rebranding exercise. It used to be called Darkie before the name was changed in 1989 following pressure from shareholders and other groups.

Darlie is a Chinese brand owned by Colgate and its joint venture partner Hawley & Hazel. Its package features a smiling man in a top hat. Its previous name was Darkie, and featured a man in blackface.


Mastercard has one of the most recognisable logos in the world, two interlocking circles of red and orange, alongside its name in the middle.

In 2006, it rebranded its logo to include a third, transparent-like circle and the words MasterCard below it.

According to American magazine Wired, the new logo was not easily recognised as it was not used on cards.

It underwent another rebranding exercise in 2016 to remove the transparent-like circle.

On its website, Mastercard called its 2016 logo, “simplified, modernised, and optimised” to reflect the company’s “readiness and optimism about the future”.

Then in 2019, the company announced that it was dropping its name from its logo.

“With more than 80 per cent of people spontaneously recognising the Mastercard Symbol without the word ‘mastercard,’ we felt ready to take this next step in our brand evolution,” said Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communication officer at Mastercard.

The 2006 MasterCard logo (left) and the current MasterCard logo (right). (Images: MasterCard)


CDG Zig, a combination of the ComfortDelGro taxi booking application and its now-decommissioned lifestyle application Zig, was launched by the Singapore transport operator in April 2022 under the new name.

The relaunch was part of ComfortDelGro’s plan to “synergise and leverage its core strengths in land transport solutions”, while making it easier for customers to gain access to its services using a single platform.

However, in a Facebook post about a week later, the company said it would reassess the use of its mobile app logo, a stylised letter Z, following feedback that it may be insensitive in view of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Unfortunately, the letter Z has also been used by the Russian army on its tanks in the Ukrainian invasion,” said ComfortDelGro Taxi.

It acknowledged that in light of the war, the timing of its app relaunch “may have come across as insensitive”.

“We would like to categorically state that we are not in favour of the use of force and acts of aggression against another sovereign state,” said ComfortDelGro Taxi.

“The letter Z has never ever been used as war propaganda before – certainly not when we launched Zig last year.”

The company added: “We would like to apologise if we have offended anyone. It was certainly not our intent.”

It has since launched a new logo.

Source: CNA/fh(gs)