Mastercard's Sonic Brand Identity

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MasterCard Sonic: Brand Identity

Mastercard’s sonic brand identity is centered around the sonic logo the company launched in February this year. Detailed below is more information about the company’s sonic branding. Additional insights about Mastercard’s brand identity, such as its text-free logo, the company's goal of seamless familiarity, and the use of overlapping circles in red and yellow have also been added.

Sonic Brand Identity

  • To address the rising popularity of voice commerce, or when consumers buy products using a voice command feature from their devices, Mastercard launched a sonic logo in February this year. With the growing popularity of smart speakers, the voice shopping industry in the US and the UK is expected to exceed more than $40 billion in size by 2022 from $2 billion in 2018.
  • Mastercard's core 12-second sonic branding can be heard from 1:04 to 1:16 of this video. The company's sonic branding will be used in commercials, ringtones, home music, and POS and be "adapted globally in different versions to ensure local relevancy."
  • To reinforce the brand, the sound is played every time a consumer interacts with Mastercard. Examples of the sonic logo playing after a successful Mastercard transaction can be heard here and here.
  • Mastercard worked with different professionals from across the world, including musicians, artists, and agencies, to create the signature sound and guarantee local relevance while staying consistent across cultures.
  • The company also made specific adjustments to the sound to fit in various situations and activities, so Mastercard users hear different distinctive adaptations for each scenario. For example, there are playful, cinematic, and operatic versions.

Text-Free Logo

  • In January this year, Mastercard dropped its name from its logo to solely rely on an image of a pair of interlocking circles of red and yellow. Mastercard is just one of the few brands that no longer rely on its name in its marketing and promotional materials. Other brands that have removed their names from their logos include other established brands like Apple, Nike, and Target.
  • According to Mastercard, eighty percent of individuals recognize their logo even when the word 'Mastercard' isn't present.
  • Removing its name from its logo also indicates the evolving nature of exchanging currency. Raja Rajamannar, the company’s chief marketing and communications officer, states that the company is progressively moving its branding technique in anticipation of a post-credit card world where different forms of digital payment will rule.
  • Mastercard has been trying to rebrand itself as a "technology company in the global payments industry" in recent years.
  • Zab Johnson, executive director and senior fellow at the Wharton Neuroscience Initiative at the Wharton School, expressed that "Mastercard is using the word 'drop' for something totally different — they’re trying to move away from the card aspect towards a more virtual financial space, where cards might not be the wave of the future." The organization is attempting to drop "card" from its name without really changing its name.

Seamless Familiarity

  • With more than 80 percent of people spontaneously recognizing the brand's text-free logo, the company is looking into creating a seamless familiarity every time the user interacts with the brand, regardless of the avenue, by creating its sonic logo.
  • Anywhere in the world clients use Mastercard—physically, digitally, or in voice environments—the distinct Mastercard tune will create a seamless familiarity.

Overlapping Circles and the Use of the Colors Red and Yellow

  • According to Pentagram, the design consultancy firm that worked with Mastercard for its logo, the intersecting circles express the idea of connection, and the basic circular shapes is a representation of "inclusiveness and accessibility," which is key to the company's brand message of "priceless possibilities."
  • The original Mastercard logo used a subtractive color mix, which created a darker shadow when the red and yellow circles overlap. On the other hand, the new logo uses an additive color mix, which produces brighter orange. The brighter color projects a lighter and fresher effect, giving the image "a bolder, more optimistic feel."
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MasterCard Sonic: Public Sentiment

Mastercard’s sonic logo has generated mostly positive feedback across social media platforms. Detailed below is more information about the public sentiment as well as examples of posts that shows the public’s thoughts and opinions on the company’s sonic branding.

Positive Feedback on Mastercard's Sonic Logo

  • Consumer perception on Mastercard's sonic logo is mostly positive across major social media platforms, such as on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. However, the positive comments found on Facebook and YouTube were mostly one-liners, like "This sounds cool!" and "Great sound!"
  • Mike Shinoda, an American musician who worked with Mastercard in creating the company's sonic logo, expressed on Twitter that he finds it great to see brands expressing themselves through music to strengthen their connection with people.
  • An example of the public's feedback on Mastercard's sonic logo is that of a Twitter user named Nicole Gardere who found the melody to be "super interesting." Another Twitter user Sarah Moriarty said, "Mastercard’s new sonic branding is my jam." Drew Campbell, a British male voice actor, said "I love how you have taken on board sonic branding...Audio is definitely the way forward."
  • The hashtag #mastercardsonicbrand only generated two posts on Instagram. One post has a comment on it that says "Cool tune" and the other is a post of a Russian man expressing his excitement over Mastercard using sonic branding.
  • Mastercard’s sonic branding generated positive reactions from several people on Facebook, with the video of the sonic logo during its launch having more than 4,000 likes and 135 of mostly positive comments.

A Few Negative Reviews

  • The general sentiment on Mastercard's sonic logo is also mostly positive on YouTube. However, there are a few people who expressed their dissatisfaction with the sonic branding. Here are some of them:
  • A user from Youtube, with the name of Jon Toronto, finds the melody to be "terribly outdated," and with other users not finding it a good melody to listen to.
  • Marek Sykora, a user from Youtube, says that [it is a] "stupid idea. Imagine that all cards in shop will play their songs whenever used."
  • Another user from Youtube with the name of Peter Bogdanoff, thought that the cinematic version of the melody was "just thrown together at the last minute as a placeholder for the real thing."

The Golden Ratio in the Logo

  • When Mastercard announced on Facebook that they are going to drop the name from their logo, a Facebook user pointed out the golden ratio in the logo, saying, "This kind of thing is something that was done very intentionally by the original designers as it doesn't happen by accident."
  • From the same post, another Facebook user said, "That’s probably put out from the brand team. The brand mark is losing the word MASTERCARD and is just gonna be the circles."

Conflicting Expert Opinions

  • A study finds that non-descriptive logos typically give no hint as to what services or products a company buys. Participants in the study found logos, like the one from MasterCard, to be less trustworthy and authentic, even if they were given a description of what the company does.
  • Jill J. Avery, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, puts forth that nameless logos can evoke more personal and immediate reactions—which is vital in a media environment with plenty of possible distractions and diversions.
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