A Verb is a Terrible Thing to Waste

The only good news about Elon Musk renaming Twitter “X” is that everyone who might care about it (and a few people who don’t) will talk about it for a few days.

That said, a verb is a terrible thing to waste. The verb “to tweet” is woven into the fabric of the English language (and about 80 other languages, too). I tweet. You tweet. He/She/It tweets. We/You (plural)/They tweet.

Let’s examine the new branding. Present tense: I X. You X. He/She/It Xes. We/You (plural)/They X. Past tense: all forms, “Xed.” Future tense: all forms, “X.” (Of course, this is a hypothetical conjugation, as “X” is not an English verb.)

Moving on. There are many different definitions of the word “brand.” Ask 20 marketers and you’ll get 40 different answers (each valid, BTW). At its most basic level, the job of a brand is to help people quickly identify and associate a product or service with a specific expectation. To an accountant (and the IRS), the value of a brand is quantifiable; it is an intangible asset reflected on a balance sheet as “goodwill,” and brands can be worth billions.

So… how much of Twitter’s $44 billion purchase price was goodwill? What was the brand worth? How much did Elon overpay because I tweet, you tweet, he/she/it tweets?

Asked differently, how much value has been destroyed by this rebranding? We may never know. Depending on the day (and whom you ask), Elon is the richest and one of the smartest people in the world. Who are we to question his wisdom?

I just went looking for Twitter in my open Chrome tabs. It took me a few seconds to find it. No familiar bluebird favicon, just a very ugly black and white X. Then, I Xed about my segment on Good Day NY this morning. It doesn’t quite roll off the tongue.

When you read this on X, please re-X it. My X followers will appreciate it. Like I said, for a marketer, a verb is a terrible thing to waste.

Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit shellypalmer.com.

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