Rebrand reflection: Mastercard CMO hints the brand could drop the name from its iconic logo

The past and potential future of Mastercard

Mastercard was playing with fire when it rebranded for the first time in decades almost six months ago, a move which saw it confidently trim back its logo in an attempt to modernise its appeal to reflect an increasingly digitised, cashless society.

Following an appearance at Mobile World Congress, Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing officer of Mastercard, reflected on the rebrand with The Drum, which rolled out back in June 2016.

At the time, the company revealed a bold, minimalist design that leveraged decades of brand recognition, built on the foundations laid by two years of intensive research that included studying less successful ‘digital-ready’ rebrands that failed to connect with the public.

“We found that our brand logo had three simple elements, there is huge consumer recognition with the two circles, the red and orange and the name Mastercard, so we rolled out a new logo with all these elements. The agency and my team stretched our thinking to evolve it," said Rajamannar.

He hinted that as Mastercard shifts from a financial to lifestyle brand, it could travel the road less travelled, like Nike and Uber, and drop the company name from its branding all together, instead relying on the power of its recall and semiological impact – not a feat many companies can pull off.

“The logo was optimised for digital media, it gives us the flexibility, should we desire, two or three years down the line to completely eliminate the name and only show those two interlocking circles,” he said.

Alternatively, as the physical debit and credit ‘cards’ that encapsulate the Mastercard brand become ever less important to the business in light of its digitisation efforts, the company could resurface as, or favour the ‘Masterpass’ brand, the contactless payment wing of the company.

The process was a secretive one, said Rajamannar, so much so that the branding team running Mastercard’s sponsorship of The Open (one of its many forays into sports including the Champions League, MLB and the NFL among others) had less than a day to ensure all the company assets across the event were updated to reflect the new look.

On a wider level, the rest of the company’s global assets are understandably playing catch-up to fit with the new logo. “We have 2.3bn cards in the market, 40m point of sale terminals, countless decals and more, I think it will take 18 months for us to have fully refreshed.”

On where it goes from here, Mastercard will continue chasing digitisation Rajamannar concluded: “We are a technology company that enables payments, and so far, these payments are not 100% digested, globally it sits at around 15% digitised which gives us a huge runway for growth.”

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