Learning from Mastercard: Are logos entering a new era?

By Abid Hussain Barlaskar , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Marketing
Published : January 10, 2019 04:09 AM
And - a look at brands that did away with names from logos in the past.

Digital payment company Mastercard recently made the news after significantly altering its logo. The brand for the first time in fifty years post its establishment, decided to do away with the name on the logo altogether. In a video interview with trade media website - The Drum, Mastercard's chief marketing and communication officer, Raja Rajamannar called it a 'huge move' for the brand. He went on to say that Mastercard has 'very high recognition' globally and the move would help the brand make optimum utilisation of the 'shrinking digital real estate'.

Mastercard logo before - after Mastercard logo before - after

Raja Rajamannar Raja Rajamannar

Rajamannar cites examples of the available display space on a smartwatch or a smartphone screen where the ten characters of the name would be "competing with or be in addition to" the logo. His opinion is that removing the text would make the brand's visibility more prominent and more impactful.

Here's a list of the brands that pulled off similar moves in the past:-

Post-1995, sportswear brand Nike removed its name from the logo leaving only the 'Swoosh' as the official identifier for it's performance-wear line.

Nike's newest logo on the right Nike's newest logo on the right

Petroleum giant Shell's logo from 1992 continued till 1995 when it underwent its ninth revision. The name was snipped off the logo leaving only the red and yellow shell.

Shell's logo from 1995 and 1999 Shell's logo from 1995 and 1999

Fast food chain McDonald's dropped its name from the logo back in 1993. However, the arches were followed by the brand's tagline 'I'm lovin' it' from 2003 to 2006. The brand than ditched all text in 2006 leaving only the famous golden arches.

McDonald's dropped the name in and dropped all the text in 2006 McDonald's dropped the name in and dropped all the text in 2006

"Because most folks were familiar with the Bullseye and it could stand on its own, Target de-coupled the name from the logo in ads and flyers." This was stated by Target's team in an in-house feature article. The hypermarket brand dropped the name from its logo in 2006.

Target dropped its name from the logo in 2006 Target dropped its name from the logo in 2006

Kentucky Fried Chicken's newest logo (2006) only carries its acronym KFC and over the years, Colonel Sanders' image has gained in size on the logo. It won't be strange, if a few years down the line, KFC also decides to drop the acronym and go ahead with Sanders' image by itself.

KFC shortened its name in 1991 KFC shortened its name in 1991

When Starbucks dropped its name and the word 'coffee' from its logo in 2011, BBC quoted the brand's chief executive, Howard Schultz as saying, "What is really important here is an evolutionary refinement of the logo, which is a mirror image of the strategy. This is not just - let's wake up one day and change our logo."

Starbucks' logo from 1992 and 2011 Starbucks' logo from 1992 and 2011

"Over the past six years, the world has become familiar with a little blue bird. The bird is everywhere, constantly associated with Twitter the service and Twitter the company. Starting today, you'll begin to notice a simplified Twitter bird. From now on, this bird will be the universally recognisable symbol of Twitter. (Twitter is the bird, the bird is Twitter.) There's no longer a need for text, bubbled typefaces or a lowercase 't' to represent Twitter'," the Twitter team said when the brand ditched all text from its logo in 2012.

(Right) Twitter logo from June 2012 (Right) Twitter logo from June 2012

Tinder dropped its wordmark logo and replaced it with the 'flame' in 2017. The new logo was designed by DesignStudio a consultancy and the flame previously acted as the tittle in the 'i' in 'tinder'.

Tinder replaced its text logo with the flame in 2017 Tinder replaced its text logo with the flame in 2017

We spoke to experts for their take on Mastercard's move and here's what they have to say:

Shekhar Badve, founder-director, Lokus Design says, "Mastercard, as a brand, has been around for fifty years and has very high recall for both the brand and the logo. Thus, there is no room for confusion or negative impact."

Shekhar Badve Shekhar Badve

Lulu Raghavan Lulu Raghavan

"Now that the text (name) is gone, the interlinking circles can be utilised for creative representation. They can show two things coming together to create something great, new, positive or valuable," he adds.

Badve is of the opinion that brands with high equity and recall around the logo can do something like this. "On the other hand, completely new brands can do this too because they have nothing to lose. They can start in this manner," he states.

"Mastercard is moving away from its traditional 'cards' business which it has been involved in for 40-45 years. To be part of the digital revolution in banking-finance-payments, they can't just do away with the word 'card' from the name and go ahead with 'master' alone. It is an intelligent move. The brand will now bombard the circles (logo) heavily to keep it fresh in peoples' minds," he explains.

Lulu Raghavan, managing director, Landor Mumbai, a brand consulting firm that specialises in design, considers the move a masterstroke by Rajmannar. "It will make the brand even more iconic. Personally, I love the move and it is fantastic that Mastercard, a financial services brand, had the courage to do this," Raghavan says.

"The meaning of the symbol can be abstract for consumers to decode. But it looks simple, bold, connected, approachable - all desirable attributes for a digital payment services brand," she adds.

ALSO READ: Mastercard drops its name from its logo

Raghavan, however, maintains that the move is not category specific. "It has to do with how much visual equity the brand has built up over time with consumers and if the brand is recognisable without the name," she says signing off.

For feedback/comments, please write to


Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates

We respect your privacy.

© 2019 afaqs!