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Business News/ Opinion / Views/  Twitter is now X? Why not the Elon Enterprise?

Twitter is now X? Why not the Elon Enterprise?


Musk and Zuckerberg could learn a thing or two about branding from old-fashioned newspapers.

A partially removed sign at Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco. (Photo: Bloomberg)Premium
A partially removed sign at Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco. (Photo: Bloomberg)

It’s been a few weeks since Elon Musk changed the name of his social-media platform from Twitter to X, and the reviews so far have been cool. Many users are finding ways to keep the brand’s iconic blue bird on their devices. For legions of holdouts, Twitter will always be Twitter.

The backlash isn’t surprising. “X" invites thoughts of high-school algebra, a subject often more endured than enjoyed. Mark Zuckerberg’s rebranding of Facebook isn’t faring much better. He rechristened the platform’s parent company as Meta, which sounds like the grimly experimental title of a Soho art exhibit. And while Substack, another popular social-media company, might have some good content, is anyone going to feel excited about a name that conjures images of a factory skyline?

Whatever their other gifts, the titans behind today’s leading social-media companies obviously lack a lyrical ear, something that an older generation of media pioneers seemed to have in abundance. Just think of the many newspaper names that emerged in the golden age of print, and you’ll see my point.

No one had to guess the meaning behind the Ponchatoula Enterprise, the Louisiana weekly where I cut my teeth as a reporter. That modest word, “enterprise," signaled small-town commerce as a governing ideal. The Baton Rouge Advocate, my hometown daily, has a nice ring, too—“advocate" as in “we’re on your side."

I’ve always loved the name of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which makes me feel smarter just saying it. Any journal called “intelligencer" seems destined to keep you in the know. The moniker of the Chicago Tribune stirs me, too, and why wouldn’t it? One definition of “tribune" is “an unofficial defender of the rights of the individual."

Le Monde, the venerable Paris daily, seems typically French in its audacity, the newspaper’s title promising to give readers “the world." And of course there is the quietly insistent reference to Wall Street in The Wall Street Journal, which usefully grounds a paper of global reach in a specific place. Exactly where would you imagine is Meta?

I know that newspapers are considered old-fashioned, but modern media moguls could learn a thing or two about branding from the legacy media.

I’m glad that I walked through the door of the Ponchatoula Enterprise four decades ago and asked for a job. I doubt that I would have signed up for a gig with an outfit named X.

Mr. Heitman is a columnist for the Baton Rouge Advocate.

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