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Lessons to Glean from Mastercard's New Logo

Earlier this month, MasterCard changed it's logo for the first time in 20 years. That's right, the logo on your credit card is now outdated! With such a huge company making a switch like this, they handled it in the best way possible. Let's take a look at the changes made to the logo and how they handled the transition.

Clean Lines

The first thing that I really like about the new MasterCard logo is how clean it looks, which is a claim we could not make for the previous logo. A few qualities that characterize the previous logo (in my opinion) are as follows...

  • Bulky. The previous logo had many layers piled on top of one another, and made it look bulky.
  • Indistinguishable. The text didn't stand out from the icon and, due to the placement, the icon really isn't distinct from the text—it is all one item.
  • Jagged. The icon itself is also very jagged with the sharp lines overlapping the two circles. Virtually every shape in this logo is hard and blocky, even the circles! 

The new logo has traded all of these qualities for their direct opposites. I'm glad to say that the new logo is ... 

  • Airy. This new logo feels like it can breathe. The circles sweetly overlap and there's much white space around the circles and the "MasterCard" name.
  • Distinguishable. Since the designers moved the "MasterCard" name beneath the icons, everything about this logo is now distinguished and the elements stands apart from one another. 
  • Smooth. Instead of jagged overlapping lines and sharp edges, the new logo makes every aspect smooth and round. Also the use of lowercase letters in a circular-based font makes the "MasterCard" name appear soft and it now ties in with the smooth gradient circles well.

Greater Flexibility

If you head over to the MasterCard website, you'll find a whole page dedicated to the unveiling of the new logo. I love the way they handled this change. MasterCard was thoughtful enough to explain the reasons behind why they wish to change their now-iconic logo, and one of these reasons is to adapt better to digital platforms. 

While it's hard to keep up with technology, logo creation should definitely be pursued with an eye toward flexibility and how easily it can be used in different platforms. However, when dealing with a logo that is so recognizable, it's difficult for companies to assent to changing their logo. The good news is that due to how highly recognized the MasterCard logo is, they could really afford to make a change like this and not loose recognition. Let's look at the flexibility they've gained by this change:

  • Layout. By separating the text from the icon, they are now able to arrange their logo differently to suit their needs. On the website, they actually arrange their logo differently to better fit into the desired position on the site.
  • Design. The design itself is better suited for the changes made in the digital world. Layers upon layers of images tend to not be appealing to viewers and the trend in design is more streamlined rather than layered. It feels as though MasterCard peeled back the layers to the basics of their logo, unveiling a flexible and clean design that's more apt to live in the digital world.

Back to Basics

As mentioned above, MasterCard really did go back to the basics of their logo and took away all of the extra layers of added images. While searching through images of the MasterCard logo over the years, I was surprised to find an older version of their logo that is actually quite similar to the newest version! It turns out that MasterCard truly went back to basics by taking inspiration from their 1979 logo, pictured on the right. 

Even this version is not nearly as streamlined and cohesive as the newest version, but it's clear that they drew inspiration from its smooth overlapping circles and simplified layers. In all, I think MasterCard made a great move with this new logo and look forward to how this could inspire other companies!