Mastercard Drops Its Name from Logo

Move asserts payment network’s place among brands that can go by symbol alone

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Mastercard Inc. is removing its name from its logo in most contexts, leaving the interlocking red and yellow circles to represent the brand on cards, in stores, at events and in advertising.

The move continues an effort to play down the “card” in “Mastercard” as new payment methods and technologies spread. It also places the company among a small group of marketers such as Apple, Nike and Target that have preferred to go by visual symbols alone.

Mastercard conducted more than 20 months of world-wide research to make sure people could identify it from the logo even without text, according to Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer at Mastercard.

“You can never be arrogant and say ‘I’m iconic, and let me go ahead and drop my brand name,’” Mr. Rajamannar said.

Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer at Mastercard.
Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer at Mastercard. PHOTO:MASTERCARD

 

It works for Mastercard but wouldn’t for many brands, said Debbie Millman, chair of the Masters in Branding program at the School of Visual Arts. “The only brands that are able to do this have developed a logo with global recognition over decades,” she said in a text message. “It takes time, consistency and a good logo to begin with to be able to do this effectively.”

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Marketers often want an abstract symbol to stand for their company, said Michael Bierut, partner at the design consulting firm Pentagram, which led the development of Mastercard’s new look. “People really want that Nike swoosh or Apple apple,” he said. “The trick is you can’t fast-forward that process, really.”

In addition to allowing for a broader business than cards, the new logo stands out better on portable digital devices, Mr. Bierut said. “You’re trying to optimize for a very small piece of real estate on a very small piece of glass,” he said. “It might not even be a mobile phone, it might even be a watch face. Having to work in a 10-letter name in that is kind of a monster.”

Consumers will encounter the new logo at varying times, as banks work through their existing stock of cards with the prior logo, for example, and Mastercard builds brand recognition in certain developing markets.

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