July 27, 2016

The history and making of the Mastercard Brand

You might be thinking: Why bother? You’re one of more than 2.3 billion people who carry the company’s cards, and in Mastercard’s internal tests, more than 80 percent of survey participants identified those circles as its brand. It was familiar. It worked. “This is really one of the most broadly distributed and most widely seen marks in the world,” says Michael Bierut, who designed the new branding with Pentagram partner Luke Hayman.

No more CamelCase; it’s just “Mastercard” now (and in some cases “mastercard,” but we’ll get to that). The logo still has the overlapping red and yellow circles and sans-serif font, but all the elements are slimmer, flatter, less fussy.

Companies want their logos to look good everywhere you encounter them—on a billboard, a laptop screen, a smartwatch, or a phone. The challenge for Bierut and Hayman was to update Mastercard’s logo without throwing out decades of brand recognition.


In the old logo, the word MasterCard was placed inside the interlocking circles. In the new logo, the word is outside the circles. This change makes the mark more flexible—it easily can be rendered horizontally or vertically.

Also, the letters M and C were capitalized in the old logo; in the new one, all the letters are lowercase. The result is a visual nod to the evolution of payment.



Mastercard Pentagram Press 7