If you were in a magical design bubble where no company had any branding, and you started a new business, when it came to your own branding, you’d surely stumble upon a venn like overlapping of two circles pretty quickly. It’s a strong solution, easy to recognise and simple to reproduce.
You could then start recolouring that shape for different aspects of the business or adapting it to use across a wider set of marketing applications.
Sadly for you, this utopian world doesn’t exist and Mastercard already has dibs on the idea.
To coincide with the release of something called Masterpass which looks like an all encompassing PayPal/ApplePay digital wallet thing where we’re all encouraged to use “Masterpassed ” as a verb similar to how people use “I Googled it” (though Google wasn’t always cool with that), Mastercard have rolled out a new identity by Pentagram.
My instant reaction was “how simple”? Which is wrong for a couple of reasons. Firstly, looking below we see that from its inception as a logo the then “master charge” was pretty much two overlapping circles. This was solidified alongside its name change to MasterCard 1979.
Thing went wrong in the 1990’s when I assume the demands of print efficiency turned the overlap into cross hatch allowing the design to be created from just two spot colours. A further refinement in 1996 made the overlapping lines thicker and added a black drop shadow to the already less than good looking italic text.
The really smart thing that has happened in this year’s update is taking the text off of the circles for the first time. By leaving the circles to do their own thing, Pentagram has both kept one of the worlds most recognisable symbols and made that symbol clearer.
That’s a stroke of genius.
The text can now either sit beneath or aside of the mark as the situation demands. The text itself is FF Mark by FontFont (which boasts Neville Brody as a founder), which works well as its geometric and open structure matches the circles in the main logo.
Chance again to perhaps bemoan the generic nature of recent rebrands using geometric sans and all lowercase text (see Logitech), but again in truth Mastercard already had this, though lost in the ’90’s. It’s a return then to the past, much like that of the Co-op here in the UK.
And it’s better for it and a bold choice to take especially in the world of social media logo outrage where without doubt it will be accused of being “something my kid brother could have done” (it’s not) or in the design world, “a student experiment” (which it could be, but they wouldn’t have done it this well).
The first image below highlights the success I think of the redesign. Instantly the logo is Mastercard and just look how it stands out from that Visa design.
In July 2016, Mastercard introduced the evolution of our brand identity starting with a new brand mark which will be incorporated on all products, communications and experiences.
Source: Mastercard Brand Evolution | Optimized for Digital Use