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Twitter has been struggling for a while. Since Elon Much bought the platform for $44bn in 2022, it has reportedly lost users in droves and lost almost half its advertising revenue. Something needed to change. And that something was the brand. The familiar blue logo was for the birds, replaced with a white X on a black background.

But while some organizations such as Burberry and Dunkin’ (formerly Dunkin’ Donuts) have their rebrands hailed as marketing success stories, the changes at Twitter have not gone down so well.

HotPMO are are a PMO consultancy, not a marketing agency, so why are we so interested in this story? Well, because it is a great example of where enterprise PMOs can, and should, be flexing their muscles and protecting organizations from potentially costly disasters.

The Twitter Rebrand: A Cautionary Tale

Twitter’s rebrand to ‘X’ was a strategic decision that elicited strong reactions from users and industry experts. The driving force behind this change, Elon Musk, faced significant backlash as 43% of respondents in a Forrester Research survey deemed the move ill-advised.

A more severe criticism came via YouGov, which reported negative responses from 67% of their surveyed population. This overwhelming disapproval serves as an eye-opening lesson for organizations contemplating such drastic changes; understanding your brand’s cultural lexicon is crucial before making transformative decisions.

Bloomberg estimated that Twitter’s abrupt renaming resulted in financial losses ranging between $4 billion and $20 billion dollars – quite the price tag for not ensuring effective rebranding typically guides consumers towards positive user engagement instead of alienating them.

A directive from the top

Only those inside Twitter’s upper echelons can know exactly how the rebrand project came about. Musk has explained that the Twitter name made sense when the platform was about people sending 140-character messages back and forth – like birds tweeting. But now longer-form posts are allowed, including several hours of video, and there are ambitions to expand away from messaging under the X Corp banner.

Anyone who has worked in the PMO space will be familiar with projects where the only business case seems to be ‘because the CEO said so’. And while experienced PMO Managers may roll their eyes at such statements, they carry a lot of weight. PMOs may be experts in project management, but they exist to serve the organization and the strategic direction it chooses.

Controls, checks, and balances

Directives from the top carry a lot of weight. They can upend project portfolios and cause previously unheard-of projects to be rocketed to the top of the ‘must do’ pile. But this acceleration does not mean the controls, checks, and balances are thrown out completely. Experienced PMO teams will work to accelerate such high-priority projects by helping those responsible for their implementation through the process of spinning up a project and getting the right tools in place. This is not a time to be saying ‘No’, but it is a time for Heads of PMO to be saying ‘Let me get my best people to help you build the business case, charter, and plan as you prepare to launch’.

Let me get my best people to help you build the business case, charter, and plan as you prepare to launch

Learning Lessons from the Past

An important role Enterprise PMOs play is ensuring lessons from previous projects are learned, and that learning is embedded in processes for future projects. But this type of internal learning is not the only way lessons are learned. Good PMO people will use their external networks, and encourage project sponsors and PMs to do the same.

A cautionary tale of moving away from a familiar name comes from Lee Applebaum’s infamous change of brand from Radio Shack to ‘The Shack’. The rebrand was intended to distance the brand from an antiquated association with Ham radio, but in doing so, it created a picture of a remote location where very, very bad things happen.

Similarly, the change from Twitter to X has raised negative connotations, with many associating the X with X-rated material.

Speaking Truth to Power

One of the important roles of the Enterprise PMO is holding up a mirror to the organization and ensuring the decisions it is making are clearly understood. This is where mainstays of project management such as project charters, business cases, and gateway reviews come into play. They all provide an opportunity to review and reflect on decisions before agreeing to proceed. Preparing and researching such documents, and pulling the right people together for decisions can be costly, but those costs can be easily offset against the risk of making costly mistakes.

Unpacking the Lessons for PMOs from Twitter’s Rebrand

The story of Twitter’s rebranding to ‘X’ is a compelling case study that offers enterprise project management offices (PMOs) some significant insights. From this, we can derive key lessons about due diligence, legal implications, clear messaging, and more.

Diligence in Decision Making: A Must-Have Approach

In any major project like a complete rebrand, a thorough investigation into all aspects is non-negotiable. This includes understanding financial repercussions as demonstrated by Bloomberg’s report on the estimated loss incurred by Twitter post-rebrand, ranging between $4 billion to $20 billion.

Apart from finances, it becomes equally crucial to grasp legal nuances such as trademark law and securing domain names during these transitions – an area where even giants like Twitter stumbled while attempting to secure its new handle ‘X’.

Messaging & Community Culture: Pillars of Successful Transition

Beyond just being legally sound or financially viable, ensuring your message remains crystal-clear throughout transition periods is vital too. As evidenced by ‘X’ projecting somewhat vague imagery after their shift, lack of clarity could breed confusion among consumers leading them away rather than towards user engagement with your brand.

Safeguarding community culture also emerges as another cornerstone for maintaining high levels of user engagement through changes big or small – something potentially missed out in Twitter’s X-periment.

Planning is important!

Re-branding projects are complex with many changes needing to happen simultaneously, from website changes to legal name changes, to changes to physical signage. Often these changes need to be prepared for months in advance, as Twitter discovered when an attempt to change the branding on their HQ was temporarily halted by police, who wanted to check whether the crew operating a cherry picker to remove the legacy logo had the necessary permits to close the street.


  • Rebranding is a high-stakes game, as Twitter’s shift to ‘X’ demonstrated.
  • The financial implications can be staggering, with billions potentially wiped off the company’s value in an instant.
  • Legal aspects such as trademark law and domain names add another layer of complexity to navigate during rebrands.
  • Your brand’s cultural lexicon matters; changing it may disrupt user engagement and impact your bottom line negatively.
  • A review of other businesses’ rebranding attempts can give an indication of what approaches work and don’t when changing a brand’s identity.
  • Clear messaging during a rebrand is essential for avoiding confusion among consumers while maintaining their engagement levels.
  • Enterprise PMOs play an important role with controls, checks, and balances ensuring everyone understands the risks involved, and how good project and stakeholder management can play a vital role in keeping such risks under control.


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