Business / Marketing

Three 2023 Rebrands Failed To Hit The Mark – Twitter/X, I ❤️ NY and HBOMax.

February 20, 2024 , 5 minutes

Companies often undertake rebranding efforts to stay relevant, appeal to new audiences, or simply to refresh their image. However, not all rebrands are successful, and sometimes they can even backfire spectacularly. In 2023, there were several high-profile rebrands that grabbed headlines, but unfortunately, they failed to resonate with consumers and instead attracted eyebrow raising responses from the social media world. Let’s take a closer look at three notable examples: Twitter/X, I ❤️ NY and HBOMax.


The Elon Musk owned Twitter, known for its concise yet impactful 280-character tweets, shocked the digital world when it announced a major rebrand in 2023. Renaming itself “X,” the company aimed to signify a shift towards inclusivity and expansion into broader creative endeavours beyond mere microblogging.


“Is it still OK to say we ‘tweeted’ something?”

However, the rollout of X was met with widespread confusion and backlash. Users questioned the need for the new name and felt disconnected from the platform they had grown accustomed to. Moreover, the vague messaging surrounding the rebrand left many scratching their heads, failing to communicate a clear value proposition. While the ambitions for Twitter may have changed, the product and its stewardship have not. There are no identifiable differences in the product to deem this change necessary, resulting in X failing to capture the essence of what made Twitter iconic.

If you want to read a more in depth dismantling about Twitters rebranding, Marcus Collins from Forbes writes an excellent leadership piece titled ‘Twitter’s Rebrand Is A Cautionary Lesson For Marketers. Here’s Why’.

I ❤️ NY

“I ❤️ NY ” is one of the most iconic slogans in marketing history, synonymous with the vibrant energy and spirit of New York City – (fun fact, it was initially created for the state of New York). In 2023, however, the state’s tourism board attempted to modernise the Milton Glaser’s iconic slogan with a sleek new logo and visual identity – “We ❤️ NYC”.

Picture1 1

We know which one we prefer.

So what went wrong?

Well for one, the original “I ❤️ NY ” was a pretty tough act to follow, kind of like The Godfather film. You just can’t remake a classic.

Secondly, the rebrand aimed to showcase the city’s strengths and mobilise New Yorkers to make sure it remains the greatest city in the world. Yet, it did the opposite. The new design received criticism for its lack of charm, character and unoriginality. Very off-brand for a city known for being the hub of creativity and culture. “The original looks like the voice of a city. The new one looks like the voice of an investment bank or possibly a healthcare provider,” one critic wrote on Twitter.

Additionally, the rebranding efforts failed to address underlying issues such as accessibility and infrastructure, which are crucial factors for tourism post Covid-19. As a result, the I ❤️ NY rebrand fell flat, unable to recapture the magic of its predecessor.


HBOMax, WarnerMedia’s flagship streaming service, embarked on a rebranding journey in early 2023 to streamline its identity and compete more effectively in the now crowded streaming market. The company unveiled a new logo – “max” – and branding strategy, aiming to convey a sense of innovation and entertainment.

The rebrand faced significant backlash from consumers and industry experts alike. For one, the new logo was criticised for its lack of creativity and failure to differentiate HBOMax from its competitors. “This HBOMax rebrand reeks of someone super senior having a terrible idea that nobody had the courage to tell them was terrible,” one person wrote on Twitter. “How to lose your brand identity in one move,” tweeted another.

The problem lies with the word “Max” which isn’t very memorable. Max is not a distinguishing branding work or sticky enough to resonate with consumers. As a result, HBOMax’s rebrand has so far achieved little to improve its market position.


Special Mention – WHSmith

WHSmith, the British retail company operates a chain of high street, railway station, airport, port, hospital, and motorway service station shops that sell books, stationery, magazines, newspapers, and entertainment products. Founded in 1792, WHSmith is a household name in the UK that decided in 2023 it was time for a trial rebrand. The results were to say the least, Woeful, Horrible, Sh*t.


Did the NHS marketing guys help out with this?

One agency shop owner commented, “This rebrand appears to be devoid of any brand strategy. It has absolutely no finesse or character whatsoever, lacks personality and removed the heritage of the once great brand.” A tweeter offered their two cents saying, “What is so annoying is that it takes just as long to say “WHS” out loud as “WHSmith. Everyone usually calls it Smith’s for short. Which is the bit they’ve taken out of the branding. Terrible decision (Before you even get to the fact that it looks too much like National Health Service!)”

The rebranding blunder of WHSmith highlighted how public perception influences a brand’s image. In a visually savvy era, a brand’s identity must evoke positive resonance, steering clear of unintended associations that could diminish its essence and character.

The rebranding efforts of X, I ❤️ NY, HBOMax and WHSmith serve as cautionary tales for those marketers looking to give their brand a sprucing up. While rebranding can be a powerful tool for growth and reinvention, it’s crucial that it’s executed thoughtfully and with a deep understanding of consumer preferences and market dynamics. Ultimately, these questionable rebrands that we’ve uncovered underscore the importance of authenticity, clarity, and relevance in connecting with audiences and driving success in the competitive landscapes.