Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

Mastercard’s recent announcement that it will be dropping the brand name from its logo, leaving behind only the interlocking red and yellow circles, has caused much debate amongst marketers – some for, and some against the change. In an increasingly cluttered retail climate, brands need to ensure they evolve at the pace of change, and modern, clean logos are ultimately what distinguishes them from their competitors.

As writer Mark Ritson pointed out in an article posted on marketingweek.com recently, after 50 years in the market, Mastercard has earned the right to play around with what it terms its ‘codes’. Ritson explains that a brand’s codes (which need not be its logo) are all the elements that help to make a brand distinguishable to its consumers, and which must be rigorously applied across every touchpoint and platform where the brand operates.

He maintains that a brand’s visual elements play a significant role in the way in which a business performs. That said, he points out that brands go beyond their logos and what is most important are the elements that customers come to associate with the brand – think the pale blue Tiffany’s box, or the deep purple colour of the Cadbury’s chocolate bar, he says.

The big take-out

Mastercard’s recent brand evolution is an example of effectively modernising a brand for a digital age by using iconic visual imagery that has become synonymous over time.

In much the same way, the red and yellow circles have, over the years become synonymous with the Mastercard brand, perhaps even more so than the name, particularly in a digital world, where people speak increasingly through icons and symbols as opposed to words, says Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communication officer at Mastercard. He adds that 80% of people spontaneously recognise the Mastercard symbol without the word and maintains that as the world becomes more complex and digitally orientated, so brand evolution should be modern and simple.

In Ritson’s opinion, this is precisely what the brand has managed to achieve by dropping the name. He maintains that Mastercard has managed this evolution very effectively and in a way that not only ensures it remains relevant to its consumers in a new age, but is also impactful in a creative sense and will enable the brand to continue to differentiate itself in the market.