Unbound Edition. Meaningful conversations about brand, from Davis Brand Capital.

Mastercard’s Forward Thinking Strategy

Mastercard recently lost a capital letter and updated its iconic, two-tone logo. Davis® consultants weigh in below:


Mike P. Marini, Senior Associate, Brand

With Mastercard’s rebrand, they have worked to acquire companies to diversify their product offering – and even retooled their logo.

The new logo looks simpler, more approachable and modern without losing its long-established brand identity. Mastercard optimized its logo for cross-platform recognition by removing the clutter. The improved legibility suggests a long-term focus on small-screen visibility.

Notably, the once capitalized C in MasterCard, is now lower case. This de-emphasizes the “Card” component, implicitly emphasizing the concept of a more services-oriented brand. Additionally, it forces Mastercard to step out of its comfort zone by not only pulling away from credit cards, but also serving as a vanguard, attempting to facilitate a societal shift to cashless transactions via Masterpass. This forced Mastercard to become much more aware of how its brand resonates to the public.

Mastercard’s purchase of Vocalink shows a concerted effort to extend their robust suite of services to the UK and Europe. This appears to be geared towards providing an international backbone for instant transfers between accounts that occur in mobile payments – the very sort of thing that Masterpass is designed for.

The long-term repercussions from the move will not be seen for years, but could theoretically contribute to a paradigm shift in how the world engages in commerce. Should a “cashless world” become more of a reality, it would open the door to new cybersecurity questions, to the fundamental ways banks function in our lives and how they allocate resources to maintain themselves. What will happen to brick and mortar banks and ATM’s in the future? Will they require actual cards to access?


Michael G. Phelan, Associate, Brand

Generation Z will not carry physical forms of payment by the time they reach their 20’s. They’ll smirk when they see their parents pull out a credit card to pay for groceries in the same way Millennials do when they watch their parents write checks today. The medium through which Mastercard conducts its business is evolving beyond the plastic cards that grew them into a $100 billion company. While credit cards will not disappear completely, mobile wallets will become the norm. Gen Z will use Mastercard as a service that lives on mobile devices and wearable tech because cards will cease to exist, hence the strategic switch to the lowercase c. Mastercard recognizes the future needs of its clients and has given itself a strategic face-lift with this mind.


E. Katarina Vermann, Director, Research

Mastercard’s logo redesign – especially the switch to a lowercase c – indicates a shift in their thinking about payment systems. They are planning for a future where we are not only cashless, but also cardless. Thinking ahead, the move to a fully electronic payment system may offer a lot of opportunities for marketers. If the physical aspect is taken away from paying for something, whether that be exchanging cash or swiping a card, does a person’s willingness to pay change? Will people’s concept of cost and price alter because they wouldn’t have a physical reminder of how much they are spending? Is this an opportunity for more digitally oriented credit card companies and banks to grab a higher portion of the consumer wallet? What will this mean for our banking and central banking system going forward?


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