Like the Rest of Them, This Article About the New Mastercard Logo is Really About Me

by Karla Jackson

Great news, designers — your work really, really matters to people. Witness the coverage of the latest iteration of the Mastercard logo, seen everywhere from theSkimm to the Wall Street Journal. But what stood out to me in the coverage wasn’t how central brands have become to our lives, but how different outlets focused on different reasons behind the update.

In case you missed it, the new logo is just the two overlapping circles, no words. It’s the continuation of an evolution that first saw them drop the Interbank name, then move Mastercard out of the circles and reduce its relative weight.

Every article agrees that dropping the name is the big story, but what they don’t agree on is what it means.

“Mastercard is dropping its name from its logo as it prepares for paying with a card to go out of fashion” — Business Insider

“New Mastercard logo enters icon era” —

“Leaning into the ‘post-text’ future, Mastercard announced Monday at the Consumer Electronics Show that it’s dropping its name from the company’s logo.” — Fortune

So, did Mastercard do this because of the word “card,” because their logomark has transcended words, or because we are all moving beyond words? If you read their press release, the answer is “all of the above,” and that a great deal of research went into determining whether the symbol could stand alone.

Great for them that they considered all the angles, but what about the writers covering this and their angle? That told me more about them than Mastercard, and it determined if I wanted to read beyond the lede. Digital payments getting popular? Not news to me. Some logomarks are as recognizable as names? Ditto. But the idea that symbolic communication has moved this far into the business world? Tell me more.

I saw articles highlighting plastic usage or brand symbols as looking to the past or at most present, and not as compelling as ones about the future of how we communicate. Those were the ones I read, and the outlets and authors I perceived as most interesting and informative.

True, some of the articles were from people writing about payment systems or brand identity. And not everyone is as interested in the future of communication as I am — I started this intending to talk more about our post-text future. But this is a good example of how something as simple as covering a press release uncovers our biases and is an opportunity to have a compelling viewpoint.

As for Mastercard’s viewpoint? See how they announced the change.

Mastercard drops its name. #priceless— Mastercard News (@MastercardNews) January 7, 2019

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