The brand notes behind Mastercard’s new music single
Mastercard is packing quite the musical punch lately. After debuting a sonic logo last year, the payments company began 2020 with the release of a new music single, “Merry Go Round,” and the promise of a full “sonic-integrated album” to come later this year. Though experts agree the audio identity can help expand the Mastercard brand, many are wondering what this new direction will add.
“Merry Go Round” was created with Swedish singer Nadine Randle and produced by Niclas Molinder. The lyrics tell the tale of “moving past a relationship and finding new opportunities,” according to a Mastercard spokeswoman.
“The essence of ‘Merry Go Round’ is about bouncing back, and not letting circumstances bring you down,” said Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Raja Rajamannar in a statement, noting that the song is “empowering.” Mastercard released the new song earlier this week at CES in Las Vegas.
While many applaud the company’s work in the audio arena—the Mastercard notes now chime at points of purchase on a global scale—they have questions about the new direction. Seasoned musical experts had no trouble identifying the Mastercard sonic logo in the new song, but regular consumers might be more hard-pressed to do so—or to make the connection between the two.
“The biggest question I have is are people really going to remember the notes and understand it in a song, or is it going to be more in the subconscious?" says Janet Levine, leader of Invention+ at Mindshare USA. “People are starting to understand sounds—Mastercard has done a good job of putting it in different locations,” she adds. “But once it’s compounded and mixed in with everything else, I’m not quite positive they’re going to get that same punch versus when it was more of a standalone.”
Walter Werzowa, a composer responsible for creating the famous Intel five-note “bong” sequence in the early 90s, says the benefit of Mastercard’s new song depends how the artists connect to the brand.
“The question is, is Nadine authentic to Mastercard,” says Werzowa, who now works at audio branding and custom scoring agency Musikvergnuegen. “Is it relevant or authentic to see her using [the sound] in an authentic way, not just a staged way, and if that happens it will be successful. If not, it’s problematic.”
In addition to Mastercard, other brands are beginning to pay more attention to their sonic identity at a time when voice speakers and musical devices feature prominently in consumers’ everyday lives. Last year, Pandora introduced its own sonic logo. Experts expect more brands to follow, yet the jury is still out on whether that includes full-scale songs and albums.