When CES opened its doors in Las Vegas last month, Mastercard took the opportunity to drop some news: The company was erasing its name from its logo. The red-and-yellow overlapping discs that have anchored its brandmark for nearly 50 years would, in most cases, stand on their own.
It’s not every brand that has the cojones, or in this case, the circles, to move into a name-free space occupied by cultural touchstones like Nike and Apple. But taking into account its decades of branding and advertising, a ton of research and the noisy terrain in which brands now have to compete, Mastercard says it decided it was worth the leap.
The brand hopes the move will recalibrate its identity for a new era, underscoring expanded offerings and a potentially growing customer base.
“Over 20 months we’ve been studying the entire consumer landscape, and as consumers are interacting more, digital screens are getting smaller,” says Mastercard chief marketing and communications officer Raja Rajamannar. “We saw that as the real estate is shrinking, the prominence of our brand could come down if we didn’t do something.”
Mastercard tested in multiple markets around the world and across different demographics and found that more than 80 percent of people were able to recognize the brand through the symbol alone, Rajamannar says.
The name drop also solved another problem: “If you look at our entire business today, we aren’t really a card business,” says Rajamannar. “We provide technology solutions and so many other services to our clients that we wanted to de-emphasize the card factor.”
Earlier this month, Mastercard debuted its “sonic brand identity,” a lyrics-less melody that gives new meaning to brand jingles.
“Sound adds a powerful new dimension to our brand identity,” says Raja Rajamannar, Mastercard’s chief marketing and communications officer, in a statement.
The new work has one core, 12-second melody that Mastercard will adapt into different versions of varying lengths and instruments. The brand plans to use the sound, developed with Mike Shinoda of band Linkin Park, for things such as hold music, ringtones and point-of-sale acceptance chimes in stores.
In the lead up to the 61st Grammy Awards, Mastercard will launch a new multi-channel marketing program starring Grammy-nominated artist Camila Cabello, which will be the first creative output to feature the brand’s sound logo. It will also highlight the sound at the Mastercard Sensory Lab within retailer Fred Segal’s Los Angles store.