In January, Mastercard erased 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.
In February, it launched its “sonic brand identity,” a lyrics-less melody that gives new meaning to brand jingles. 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.
We caught up with Beatrice Cornacchia, senior vice-president, Marketing and Communications, Middle East and Africa, Mastercard, to learn more about the changes.
What was the reason behind dropping the name?
Today’s marketing landscape is becoming increasingly digital-focused, and brands need to adapt and evolve to keep engaging with their audiences. Connecting with people on a deeper level requires a more dynamic, flexible and meaningful approach than ever.
As a leading technology company, Mastercard has been on a transformative brand journey. Reinvention in the digital age calls for modern simplicity – we believe that our iconic brand symbol represents Mastercard more effectively than one word ever could.
Our iconic red and yellow interlocking circles have been the hallmark of the Mastercard brand for more than 50 years, and represent our promise to connect people to Priceless possibilities. Allowing them to stand on their own is a logical step in our brand’s ongoing evolution. By doing so, we are recognizing that Mastercard has entered the elite group of brands that are identified by their symbols alone.
Mastercard’s circles have emerged as powerful signifiers that bring people closer to their passions, and give them the confidence and trust that their transactions are safe and secure. We’re proud of our brand’s rich heritage and enduring appeal, and it’s very exciting to see the iconic Mastercard symbol take center stage and shine.
Are there any other changes we can expect to see with regards to the logo, branding and positioning?
As a company operating at the cutting-edge of the technology sector, we have seen tremendous changes in our industry over the past decade. These shifts are not limited to the introduction of innovative products and services – they can also be felt in the ways brands are presented and perceived.
We have just launched the next stage of our evolution with the debut of our new Mastercard sonic brand. Following extensive research, we’ve created a distinct and memorable Mastercard melody that combines both global resonance and local relevance. Our sound is designed to be adaptable across genres and cultures, and flexible in the use of varying instruments and tempos to deliver cinematic, operatic, and youthful renditions.
The Mastercard sonic brand will be rolled out across a wide range of touchpoints. The sophisticated sound architecture will extend to many assets, from musical scores, sound logos and ringtones, to hold music and eventually point-of-sale acceptance sounds. The sound adds a powerful new dimension to our brand identity, and is set to become an important part of how people recognize Mastercard today and in the future – in both the physical and digital world.
How are you rolling out the new identity in the region?
Use of the Mastercard Symbol has already been trialed on social media, select digital channels and at sponsorship events. It’s important to note that this will be a gradual transition, which will be done in contexts that make sense to consumers. While we are extending its use to cards, acceptance signs, major sponsorship events and marketing collaterals, we will continue to use the brand mark with our name across a variety of touchpoints. These will include most corporate and B2B communications, our premium (silver) brand mark, and in selected developing markets where Mastercard is continuing to strengthen its brand recognition.
Over the next few months, we will be rolling out the sonic brand in the MEA region through a range of campaigns across media, digital channels, key events and social media. UAE consumers can look forward to experiencing both the symbol branding and the Mastercard sound at this year’s Dubai International Jazz Festival, while in South Africa our sonic branding will be integrated into several “Priceless Surprises” as part of our upcoming Rugby World Cup campaign.
What were the results of the research conducted (especially any regional insights) prior to deciding to drop the name?
Naturally, this was not a decision that was taken lightly. In this information-saturated age when so many brands are vying for people’s attention, it is important for us to not only be visible, but also to create the right impact.
To this end, we spent around 20 months conducting in-depth research across multiple markets. Working closely with various partners including banks, sponsored events and retail outlets, we tested everything from digital screens and billboards to store window decals.
The results were highly encouraging; in both developed and developing markets, more than 80 percent of participants were able to spontaneously recognize the Mastercard symbol without the word ‘Mastercard’. It was then that we knew the time was right to take this next bold step in our brand’s evolution.
What is ‘Storylab’? Which are the agencies you’re working with, what is their scope of work and how is it different from that of Storylab?
Mastercard Storylab was launched around a year ago. Our in-house content creation studio helps Mastercard bring its stories to life by moving beyond traditional press releases to develop dynamic, engaging and authentic corporate communications. Our studios are fully equipped with state-of-the-art 4K cameras, lighting, green screens and backdrops, audio equipment and editing software, and the team uses the facilities for a wide range of content on a daily basis.
This is not to say that we are in any way replacing our partner agencies – demand for digital content has grown to such an extent, that it was a natural progression to create Storylab to fulfill the evolving and often immediate needs of our team. Ultimately, Storylab is all about further enhancing the ways we communicate.
What are the marketing activities that already sit within Storylab and which ones are you planning to in-house in 2019?
We currently have two Storylab teams based in New York and St. Louis that work closely with various business units within Mastercard to craft social, video and podcast content, in addition to monitoring our social media channels. The initiative has been a tremendous success, with more than 100 videos, infographics, podcasts and photoshoots developed during its first twelve months.
Our teams are constantly looking to break into new, compelling content forms. For example, Storylab developed the ‘Fortune Favors the Bold’ branded podcast jointly with Gimlet Creative, which focuses on the evolving role money plays in our lives, and about what happens when we take risks, take control, and redefine our relationship with it. Storylab’s achievements demonstrate the many benefits access to an in-house content studio can bring to our storytelling capabilities.
What are your plans for Storylab in the region?
As Mastercard’s new MEA headquarters, which will be launched in Dubai later this year, we will be among the first to host a Storylab outside the United States. Later this year, the Mastercard team will be moving to a new expanded space that will enable us to showcase our latest innovations and where we will inaugurate the region’s first Storylab.
It’s a very exciting time for Mastercard in the region, and we will continue to explore innovative new ways to connect consumers to Priceless possibilities.