Today, MasterCard revealed a redesign of its consumer-facing logo, the first in 20 years. The way we buy and pay for things has changed dramatically in the past two decades ago—think about the proliferation of payment platforms like PayPal, Venmo, and Apple Pay. While MasterCard has evolved with the times by introducing digital products and creating new technology for credit card payment systems, its logo—two intersecting circles with a wordmark superimposed—was stuck in the 1990s. To create an identity system that could simplify and clarify the brand to the millions of people around the world who use its services, MasterCard brought on the esteemed design firm Pentagram.
"We wanted to emphasize the fact that MasterCard is no longer just a card product -- the future will be predominantly digital," said Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer of the 50-year-old company. "We feel comfortable the change is preserving the equity and heritage and yet leveraging off of that and contemporizing it to make ourselves more adaptable."
"Everything has changed in the past 20 years," Michael Bierut, the Pentagram partner who oversaw the project, says. "There was a lot of screw tightening and design tinkering happening [with the logo] in the first 30 years of the company. Then they almost got frozen in 1996. If you have a MasterCard in your wallet, that’s the logo you see. . . . The trick then is, how do we leverage 50 years of equity with enough TLC to provide a new system?"
The new branding will be rolled out to the company's digital payment service Masterpass by the end of July, and then phased into other offerings in the coming months. The company envisions that in some instances, the logo will appear without the word "MasterCard," since 81% of the global population is able to identify the brand by just seeing the red and yellow circles, according to Mr. Rajamannar. He noted that most consumers should be able to identify a brand by the look and feel of it rather than the written name.
One early review of the redesign was favorable. "Overall, the system is a great clean break for MasterCard to establish a clear house style that stems from the simplicity and crispness of the new logo," wrote Brand New, a site that reviews corporate and brand identities. "I can't imagine a new Mastercard logo being anything other than what this ended up being."
The company's consumer-facing logo has gone through at least five different design iterations since its 1966 founding as Interbank.