Marketing and payments M-V

Detail from graphic on Mastercard’s press release

Detail from graphic on Mastercard’s press release

The M

Something seems to be missing from the Mastercard logo. Oh, now I see it. Or, rather, I don’t see it. What’s missing is the word “Mastercard.” 

Following two years of research, Mastercard has determined that the overlapping circles are strong enough to convey the brand without an assist from type. Accordingly, in certain settings the company will omit the name and use only the symbol. A recent Mastercard press release quotes Chief Marketing and Communication Officer Raja Rajamannar:

“… 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.”

The press release also quotes Michael Bierut, partner at Mastercard-retained design firm Pentagram, indulging a bit of hyperbolic designer-speak:

… 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.

(Bierut’s comment reminds me of Pepsi’s modest logo redesign in 2009, at a cost of one million dollars, which its design firm claimed calls to mind the Earth’s magnetic fields and the sun’s radiation, thus evoking “… emotive forces [that] shape the gestalt of the brand identity.”)

Thus Mastercard aspires to join the ranks of a handful of companies lucky enough to have a logo that wordlessly represents the brand. It’s a gutsy move. Unlike, say, Apple’s apple, which depicts an actual apple, the overlapping circles depict an actual Venn diagram. But then, Nike’s swoosh depicts a rounded checkmark. Time will tell whether the symbol sans type will continue to communicate “Mastercard.”

Some companies do the opposite: They forego a symbol in favor of a stylized version of their name. That’s a little safer, since there’s no mistaking a spelled-out name for something else. Think Xerox, FedEx, and Nordstrom.

Or, think Visa.

The V

Speaking of which, Visa is reaching out to women, with a program called “She’s Next, Empowered by Visa.” According to BusinessWire:

She’s Next will be supported by the Female Founder Collective (FFC)—a network of businesses led by women, supporting women—that launched in 2018 and quickly grew to over 3,000 members. From streamlining payment methods to linking women small business owners with like-minded peers and experts, Visa and FFC will together offer unmatched resources and opportunities for female entrepreneurs.

Visa is planning “… pop-up events around the world that offer a range of practical tools, resources, insights and networking opportunities for female entrepreneurs.” These include community-specific, interactive workshops, and advice from experts representing the likes of Visa, Square, and Yelp.

Research “… from a forthcoming survey commissioned by Visa of US-based female small business owners will help to inform the issues that matter most to women entrepreneurs.” The research promises to focus on topics women cite as motivators in starting their own businesses, information on funding, and use of social media and digital marketing. Visa plans to launch an ad campaign promoting the program this year. 

There’s something surreal about the fact that it’s 2019 and marketers are still discovering there are women in the business world. But good on Visa and others for being “woke.” Better late than never.

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