Mastercard’s new nameless logo suggests that words don’t matter as much in our digital world

Move aligns company with other 'symbol brands'

Published On
Jan 08, 2019

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A major brand logo just got emojified. This week Mastercard announced that it’s dropping its brand name from its iconic emblem featuring red and yellow-orange overlapping circles.

Its removal, announced this week just before CES, is meant to bring the logo up to speed with today’s digital world. “Reinvention in the digital age calls for modern simplicity,” Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communication officer at Mastercard said in a statement. “And with more than 80 percent of people spontaneously recognizing the Mastercard Symbol without the word ‘mastercard,’ we felt ready to take this next step in our brand evolution. We are proud of our rich brand heritage and are excited to see the iconic circles standing on their own.”

Michael Bierut, partner at Pentagram, which was behind the redesign, noted, “We live in a time where, increasingly, we communicate not through words but through icons and symbols.” Now, he says, the brand can sit alongside other giants who don’t need letters to assert their presence. “Mastercard enters an elite cadre of brands that are represented not by name, but by symbol: an apple, a target, a swoosh,” he added. “Mastercard’s two interlocking circles have always represented their commitment to connecting people. Now, that commitment is given greater presence by Mastercard’s status as a symbol brand.”

It seems that Mastercard has been building up to this point for a while. In 2016, it worked with Pentagram to introduce its first new identity in 20 years, one that seemed quite radical at the time. The symbol that once featured the brand’s name centered inside the overlapping circles now pushed the moniker out of prominence within the graphic to settle just below it. The typeface also got simpler, and the once chunky white shadowed letters became nondescript lowercase black type. This latest development just takes the extra step to remove the name altogether.