Mastercard has enhanced its logo in an exemplary manner, says branding expert Christopher Wünsche. Nevertheless, there is much more to a perfect brand appearance.
Mastercard is certainly one of the world's best-known brands and is surely in a row with Nike, Apple, Starbucks, Mercedes or BMW. In terms of global presence, Mastercard has probably left most of its competitors far behind. In my opinion, such a globally known brand could in future well dare to concentrate only on the symbol of the two color circles without the word mark »mastercard« as a trademark and sender identification. The evolution of the logo has been carried out in a visually stringent and model-like manner over the past decades. The business model »payment beyond cash« clearly stands for the relevance of digitalization for Mastercard – in this respect, the use of the logo is absolutely logical, also against the background of interaction and communication channels.
As correct and exemplary as Mastercard proceeds, the importance of the other design elements of brand appearances should not be disregarded: In addition to the logo, which certainly always plays a prominent role in brand design, typography, color code, secondary design elements, layout or even architecture and much more, as well as the composition of these elements, are of great importance for the recognition of brands. Let us think of Mercedes (typography), Milka (purple), Telekom (digits), Sixt (layout) or Porsche (architecture). All of these represent visual patterns that ensure recognition over the decades with consistency and variation – recognition even without a logo.
This is important because recognition means presence, presence can be transformed into familiarity and familiarity into trust. But word marks can also be designed in such a pictorial way that they become icons, think of Coca-Cola or IBM. The fact that recently numerous fashion brands such as Burberry or Yves Saint Laurent and many others have become more and more similar in terms of logo, because they follow the »fashion« of capitals and sans serif typefaces and are also less different in terms of the other design elements, is not an advantage from the point of view of visual brand management.
What conclusions for visual brand management can we draw from the examples? The brand elements of any brand appearance are valuable. Without a doubt, they have to keep up with the times in order to stay up to date. But you should proceed with caution. Radical redesigns like Merck may have their reasons – from the perspective of visual brand management, they mean going back to square one. Brands like Nürnberger Versicherungen or Kuka have been carefully visually evolved in recent years without completely ignoring their visual heritage. This is important as very few brand managers have the financial means to quickly and broadly anchor new appearances in our fast-moving times in order to create the necessary brand presence.
Author: Christopher Wünsche
Published (in German) by W&V, Friday, 11 January 2019
Truffle Bay is an owner-managed, integrated strategic brand consulting and design agency based in Munich. With clarity and creativity we help ambitious companies and entrepreneurs to discover, define, design and bring to life their unique identity – to create strong brands as the compass and catalyst of entrepreneurial change processes as well as attractive and differentiating brand experiences to win and retain customers and employees.
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