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July 24, 2023, 1:54 p.m.

If other media companies thought about brand equity the way Elon Musk thinks about Twitter’s (er, X’s)

In the spirit of Tronc, Elon Musk has decided to throw away more than a decade of brand equity by changing the name of Twitter to…the letter X. Imagine if more media executives followed his lead.

Wes Davis and Tom Warren of The Verge:

Twitter is transforming into X, as the site’s former bird logo has now been replaced by an official new X logo. Elon Musk, who owns the transformed social media site, began signaling the change early Sunday morning with a series of tweets, starting with one that said, “and soon we shall bid adieu to the twitter brand and, gradually, all the birds.”

Now X has replaced the Twitter logo on the web version, signaling a change to Musk’s “everything app” that he originally envisioned shortly after purchasing Twitter for $44 billion in November. The X logo will presumably replace the bird logo in mobile versions of the apps once they’re updated. References to Twitter still remain on the main web login prompt, though.

The New York Times

NEW YORK, July 24, 2023 — The New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT) is proud to announce the new brand identity of its flagship news product: -.

The new glyph-driven name, to be pronounced “hyphen” or “The News Organization Formerly Known As The New York Times,” connects the company to its rich, 172-year-long history — in particular, the period from 1851 to 1896 in which it displayed its name as “The New-York Times.”

“Adolph S. Ochs was a wonderful owner of this proud institution, but I can’t help but feel he made a terrible mistake when eliminating the hyphen from the name of The New-York Times,” said New York Times Co. CEO Meredith Kopit Levien. (The newspaper’s corporate parent will retain its old-fashioned name until Q4 2023, when the New York Stock Exchange is expected to upgrade its trading technology to allow it to trade under the symbol -­-­-.)

“What’s most exciting about – is that it literally puts our news organization right in the middle of all sorts of discussions,” said – executive editor Joseph F. Kahn. “Are you worried about the struggles of white-collar workers? Far-right movements? Fast-improving AI technology? The Barbenheimer box-office phenomenon? No matter what, we at – are right there in the thick of it.”

While executives admit considering the longer en dash (–) or em dash (—), Mr. Kahn cited brevity as a core principle of journalism. He called the longer options “verbose and border-line prolix. See, there we are again — ‘border-line’! I’m telling you, this is just what our little-known news outlet needs to achieve some sort of wider recognition.”

Nine people with knowledge of the matter, speaking on the condition of anonymity in order to describe private discussions, said the common online practice of using two hyphens in place of an em dash is “just a total bonus.”

CNN

ATLANTA, July 24, 2023 — CNN, the worldwide leader in news and a proud member of the Warner Bros. Discovery family of content creators, announced today it would henceforth be known simply as N.

“What is CNN all about? News,” said former CEO Chris Licht, whose logins to company systems were not properly turned off. “What does ‘news’ start with? N. To be honest, I don’t even know what Ted Turner was thinking.”

According to a company-wide email sent from a cnnplus.com address, CNN’s original name, Cable News Network, was too bound to a pre-streaming reality. “Cable? We’re so much more than cable,” wrote the email’s unknown author. “Network? We’re so much more than a network. But news? That’s got a really, really good first letter.”

To illustrate the break from the past, the curvilinear CNN logo, dating to 1980, will be both stripped of its first and third letters and merged into its broader graphical environment, making it a thin white thread slithering through a universe of information. “We think this logo change is a major news event, not least because we hear major news events are when people watch CNN,” Licht somehow said.

The New Yorker

NEW YORK, July 24, 2023 — Condé Nast today announced the immediate rebranding of its legendary magazine The New Yorker as NYC, a move it said “would definitely not lead to any confusion.”

“I’ve always liked the name The New Yorker, if we’re being honest,” said longtime NYC editor David Remnick. “But it does imply our work can only be read by people currently within the five boroughs, and perhaps not even Staten Island, so I totally get the decision.”

The new name removes all the geographical attachments of The New Yorker, exchanging them for a bold new initialism built on three of the top 26 letters of the alphabet. “We were first gonna go with NY, but I know a lot of people associate that with New Year’s — or ‘New Yellowstone!,’ the well-known cry of Kevin Costner fans when a new ep drops on Peacock. So to avoid any confusion, we added a C, for Condé Nast.”

To celebrate the change, NYC is today debuting a new interactive feature on the best chain sandwich shops in Brooklyn titled “NYC Subway Map.”

Vox

WASHINGTON, July 24, 2023 — Vox.com, the flagship policy-and-politics news site of Vox Media, announced today it is reducing the bandwidth required to render its name by two thirds, shrinking its name to its terminal x.

“It’s just what people are doing,” a confused CEO Jim Bankoff told reporters at a hastily called news conference outside the Shake Shack Dupont Circle. “I don’t get it. Maybe it’s something about x like a variable in math? I don’t know.” He said the x would be rendered in lower case in order to avoid confusion with other, more capitalized uses of the letter.

Bankoff said Vox’s well-regarded video unit would rebrand as xvideos.com “as soon as we get some internet-filter issues worked out.”

Time

NEW YORK, July 24, 2023 — TIME, the essential newsweekly turned essential digital news source, announced today it was changing its name to μs, the scientific notation for a microsecond.

“What is news about if not precision?” owner Marc Benioff asked rhetorically in a text message. “‘TIME’ was a perfectly reasonable thing for Henry Luce to be focused on in 1923, well before the clock and the calendar were invented. But in today’s economy, we need to know how much time, exactly, and that’s what we’re doing. Plus, if you squint, μs kinda looks like ‘us,’ which is sweet.”

A microsecond is equal to one millionth of a second. However, Benioff said the name would not be pronounced “microsecond,” instead proposing a sort of “myusss?” sound, with a rising intonation at the end.

Company insiders acknowledged μs was a fallback choice for the magazine, which had originally planned to rename half of its products SPACE while keeping the other half TIME, all in honor of TIME Person Of The Century Albert Einstein and his work on special relativity. “To be honest, we were all getting pretty tired of capitalizing TIME anyway,” a spokesperson said.

HBO Max

NEW YORK, April 12, 2023 — Warner Bros. Discovery (Nasdaq: WBD) today introduced Max, its enhanced streaming service, which will launch in the U.S. on May 23. Max is the destination for HBO Originals, Warner Bros. films, Max Originals, the DC universe, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, an expansive offering of kids content, and best-in-class programming across food, home, reality, lifestyle and documentaries from leading brands like HGTV, Food Network, Discovery Channel, TLC, ID and more. Max will stand out amongst streamers by uniquely combining unrivaled breadth and superior quality with iconic franchises and strong product experience, all for great value.

Introducing Max — the one to watch for every mood and every moment.

Instagram

MENLO PARK, Calif., July 24, 2023 — Instagram today announced it was changing its logo from an abstract illustration of a camera to the face of Sylvester J. Pussycat, Sr., the anthropomorphic cat from a series of popular mid-20th-century cartoons.

“Not a lot of people know this, but Kevin and Mike originally named it ‘Instagram’ because it was originally supposed to be a graham-cracker delivery service — ‘Uber for coarse-ground wheat products’ is how their first deck pitched it,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during a break from jiujitsu training.

“Who came up with graham crackers? The vegetarian self-love opponent Sylvester Graham, of course. But we checked with legal, and it turns out we couldn’t trademark the ‘Graham’ part of his name, so we moved over to the Sylvester part. And what says ‘Sylvester’ better than a ninth-tier Looney Tunes character like Sylvester J. Pussycat, Sr.?”

“What’s really weird is that somehow this isn’t the dumbest rebranding in social media happening today,” he added just before taking a blow to the head from a retired MMA fighter. “Seriously! People are rooting for me, Mark Zuckerberg, to take over more of the social media space! 2023 is bonkers, man.”

To secure rights to the Sylvester character, Meta also announced it was purchasing Warner Bros. Discovery in its entirety. As part of the deal, the Looney Tunes franchise will be renamed TUNES and become a music streaming service. Instagram Reels are set to be relaunched as Merrie Melodies in Q2 2024.

With apologies to Brand New and, well, everyone else.

Joshua Benton is the senior writer and former director of Nieman Lab. You can reach him via email (joshua_benton@harvard.edu) or Twitter DM (@jbenton).
POSTED     July 24, 2023, 1:54 p.m.
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