Mastercard Updates Logo By Dropping Name

You may not notice the subtle change the next time you receive your new Mastercard in the mail, but it’ll probably be there.

The familiar Mastercard logo — red and yellow circles interlocked with each other — has officially arrived. It has achieved “elite status” among logos: it’s so familiar, it no longer needs the company name tagging along.

The logo was introduced back in 1966 when the card itself was called Master Charge. I’m old enough to remember “Master Charge.”

I’m enough of a logo nerd that I remember when Master Charge rebranded itself as MasterCard — one word — in 1979.

In 1990, they updated the circles themselves: in the intersection of the circles, there were alternating stripes of yellow and red. By the 2000s, they were back to the non-striped circles but suddenly the name Mastercard was in lowercase.

Now, the word itself is gone. In a news release, the company celebrates the achievement.

“Now, by allowing this symbol to shine on its own, Mastercard enters an elite cadre of brands that are represented not by name, but by symbol: an apple, a target, a swoosh,” Michael Bierut, a partner at Pentagram, said.

Mastercard Chief Marketing and Communication Officer Raja Rajamannar says reinvention in the digital age calls for “modern simplicity.” (Is that a polite way of saying we’re getting more and more dumb?)

“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,” Rajamannar said.

Let’s face it, no matter what the designer thinks the logo represents, any logo that can reach so high a recognition point as a logo itself without any words, that’s a success from a design perspective.

Borrowing from their longtime ad campaign, you might even call it “priceless.”

Do you have more Mastercards or Visa cards in your wallet?


  1. I wonder if I can pay my bill with a check made out to a logo, as well. Better yet, I’ll sign it with my own logo! 🙂

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.