Friday, January 11, 2019

Mastercard's Brand Evolution: A Wordless Logo

In the first significant branding news of the new year, Mastercard has announced that it is removing its name from its logo.

According to a company press release, "Following in the footsteps of branding legends Apple, Nike, and Target, Mastercard is choosing a wordless logo using only its iconic, intersecting yellow and red circles. It will be used as the brand symbol on credit cards and at retailers, as well as at events and on advertising. The new logo was also chosen to “work seamlessly across the digital landscape."

For over 50 years, since its founding as Interbank Card Association in 1966, Mastercard's red and yellow circles have been recognizable for the brand and go hand-in-hand with the tagline, "Priceless."

Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer at Mastercard, said that the company undertook more than 20 months of global consumer research to ensure that people could identify the brand solely by its circles. “With more than 80% of people spontaneously recognizing the Mastercard symbol without the word ‘Mastercard,’ we felt ready to take this next step in our brand evolution."

“We live in a time where, increasingly, we communicate not through words but through icons and symbols,
” said Michael Bierut, partner at design consulting firm Pentagram, “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.”

Is Mastercard's logo stronger with or without its name? While every brand aspires to possess the strength of Nike's swoosh or Amazon's arrow, not every brand is as strong as its leadership team thinks it is. When you choose to pay for something in the future, will the fact that the word Mastercard is missing from a credit card or store display make an impact? Only time will tell if this was a smart move by Mastercard.

Image Credit: Mastercard.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Top 10 Marketing Highlights of 2018

With 2018 now history, it's time for my annual "Top 10" marketing highlights post – incredible to believe this is my 9th annual post featuring annual marketing highlights. Without further ado, let's get to it! What campaigns were great? Which were duds? What stood out as marketing innovation, and what will go down in history as memorable as Apple's 1984 Super Bowl ad? What do you remember from the 2018 marketing reel?

With a quick nod to David Letterman for the format, here's my list:

Number 10: After 68-years, Dunkin' Donuts dropped the word "Donuts" from its name to focus on a more beverage-led product line.

Number 9: After 55-years, Weight Watchers changed its name to WW to focus on wellness. Its new tagline has become "Wellness that works."

Number 8: IHOP changed its name in time for summer barbecues and became IHOb. After a surprise move, social media suggested a variety of new names, such as, International House of Breakfast, International House of Brunch, International House of Bacon, International House of Brownies, International House of Bananas (suggested by Chiquita Banana), and International House of Burgers.

Number 7: Following a television episode of THIS IS US, where a key character died due to a faulty Crock Pot, Crock Pot released a statement that its products were safe – and also created a Twitter account to continue the story: @CrockPotCares.

Number 6: During the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Market covered its name with a large banner for all 10 of the Boston-based restaurants in the Los Angeles area during the World Series so that the name became LOS ANGELES Market.

Number 5: During the World Series, a social media conversation appeared on Twitter with the hashtag #MuseumWorldSeries. Museums in Boston and Los Angeles posted Tweets featuring famous artwork sporting a rally towel, cap, or hat supporting either the Dodgers or Red Sox. The Museums included the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston), Davis Museum at Wellesley College (near Boston), LACMA (Los Angeles), J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles), Huntington Museum (Los Angeles), Descanso Gardens (Los Angeles), Hammer Museum (Los Angeles), and Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Florida. In addition, The Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, the Boston Mayor's Office of Arts, and the Boston Symphony chimed into the conversation on Twitter.

Number 4: The house with a famous exterior in a Los Angeles suburb used by the television show THE BRADY BUNCH, from the early 1970's, found itself in a bidding war. Ultimately purchased by HGTV, it remains to be seen how it will be renovated, or if it will get its own renovation series. All the original Brady kids (now adults in middle age) reunited for a photo-op in front of the house.

Number 3: While England's Royal Family expanded with marriages and births, the two most notable included the birth of Prince Louis, son of Prince William and fifth-in-line to the throne, and the marriage of Prince Harry to American actress Meghan Markle. One can only imagine the increase of international visitors to England for the Royal Wedding, and the amount of items for sale promoting the new family members.

Number 2: Amazon launched a new grocery store called Amazon Go in Seattle, featuring no employees at check out and no cash registers. Is this the future of shopping? Is Amazon preparing us? Time will tell.

And Number 1 on my 2018 Marketing Highlights List:

Drum roll please...

"The iconic Volkswagen Beetle became the latest casualty in America's newfound love affair with crossovers and other light trucks. Volkswagen of America announced that it is ending output of the iconic Beetle in 2019, closing another chapter for one of the auto industry's most storied nameplates. The company said production of the modern, third-generation Beetle will end at a plant in Puebla, Mexico, in July 2019. The Beetle, with roots dating back to 1938 in Germany, was revived and updated in 1998 with U.S. sales of the modern Beetle peaking at 83,434 in 1999. The car was created by Ferdinand Porsche," wrote David Phillips in Automotive News.

So many of 2018's highlights may damage the integrity of the referenced brands. Brand awareness, brand identity, and brand experience are so intertwined with customer loyalty that only time will tell if these altered brands will be embraced by their fans and customers.

What would you add to this list? Here's to 2019 and another year of marketing highlights. Happy New Year!

Image Credits: J. Paul Getty Museum ("Spring" by Edouard Manet
tweaked for the World Series), and Volkswagen.