Mastercard to Drop Name From Logo, But Is It Risky?
For its advertising campaign tagline, Mastercard has dabbled in brand bravado by dubbing its services “Priceless.” That adjective, though, will soon lose its applicability with respect to the New York-headquartered financial services corporation’s logo, as the credit card behemoth will be dropping its name from the artistic identifier.
Only two-and-a-half years after it modified the symbol, Mastercard is going ahead with a rather bold decision to let interlocking circles serve as solo indicators of the brand. Given that the company announced yesterday that 80 percent of polled individuals could spot the logo minus the text, we wonder if Mastercard—which this year will mark its 40th anniversary under its current name after having started in 1966 as Interbank Card Association—could compel other businesses, no matter their specialty, to consider letting artwork be its lone representation.
Mastercard, of course, is not unique in going without a text accompaniment, as Apple, Nike and Target are not suffering from their word-free approach to marketing their goods. However, is there a tremendous amount of risk involved in dropping the name despite the aforementioned staggering percentage of people who do not need it to know they are looking at Mastercard’s logo?
— Mastercard (@Mastercard) January 7, 2019
Logo analysis serves as one of our bread-and-butter topics at Promo Marketing, and has yielded some interesting looks at how artistic symbols influence consumer enthusiasm, inspire controversy and test end-users’ memories. Therefore, we wonder what sense it makes for Mastercard to bail on providing a mention of its name on the colorful logo. The Wall Street Journal noted that the powers that be spent more than 20 months on “world-wide research” to see if people could go by the logo alone to indicate what they were seeing. While that seems like a staggering amount of time, Mastercard is touting its success in not needing its 10-letter name to solidify consumer confidence. Since the removal of the name will occur “in most contexts,” one could definitely say that Mastercard is confident that memories will not start faltering and that its red and yellow circles will continue to do the trick alone.
As the publication mentions, choosing a logo instead of a logo/name combination stands to work best for companies that have obtained “global recognition over decades.” Mastercard certainly fits that criteria, and it is indeed a household name, at least as far as financial service providers go. But it may not have the same kind of clout with consumers that other no-name-on-the-logo brands have. People know and love Apple, Nike and Target. People know Mastercard, but does anyone really love it? With the recent explosion of financial services startups, it figures Mastercard's brand loyalty will be put to the test. And, as we saw, logos matter.
We'll see what happens. But with respect to all this thinking, have you dealt with companies that have made similar decisions? If so, what was their reasoning? Have you, yourself, ever been as daring as Mastercard in reaching the masses? If so, what motivated you? If not, is it something that you could ever conceive of pulling off?