Mastercard reveals new logo for the first time in 20 years

Pentagram partners Michael Bierut and Luke Hayman have created a new visual identity for global finance brand Mastercard, which aims to retain its 50-year-old familiarity while making it more digital.


Update 8 January 2019: Two-and-a-half years on from Mastercard’s rebrand, the company has decided to drop its name from its logo, leaving only its two, overlapping circle symbols as its main identity. Mastercard announced the decision at technology conference CES in Las Vegas, US this week, with the reasoning that the new “flexible, modern design will work seamlessly across the digital landscape”, adding that “the Mastercard symbol represents Mastercard better than one word ever could”. Scroll to the bottom of this piece to see the transition of the Mastercard logo over recent years.

The Mastercard logo is one of the most recognisable emblems worldwide – since 1968, the overlapping red and yellow circles have become synonymous with bank transfers and credit cards.

The logo is also one of the most pervading – it’s currently used across more than two billion plastic cards worldwide, alongside advertising billboards, ATMs, digitally and at global headquarters.

Mastercard branding through the years
Mastercard branding through the years

For the first time in 20 years, Mastercard has undergone a rebrand, completed by Pentagram partners Michael Bierut and Luke Hayman alongside designers Hamish Smyth and Andrea Trabucco-Campos.

The new visual identity keeps the familiar two overlapping circles – the “pure” form of the brand, says Bierut – but aims to bring it into the “digital” age and optimise it for on-screen use.

“Mastercard has an unusual 50 year history of using a clear, simple combination of graphic elements – two overlapping circles in red and yellow,” says Bierut.

Research shows that the consistency of this brand mark means people can identify the Mastercard logo easily without the words present, adds Bierut. It was important to keep the recognisable visual language to retain consumer trust, while updating it for a contemporary audience.

The old branding
The old branding

While the interlocking circles have been retained, the horizontal lines that framed the word “Mastercard” and sat in the overlap have been dropped and replaced by an orange shade, a result of mixing the two primary colours, red and yellow.


This combination aims to cement an idea of “connectivity” and “seamlessness”, one of Mastercard’s main brand messages. The translucency of the central orange colour also aims to reflect a sense of “transparency”, says Pentagram, while all three colours are now lighter and brighter to convey “optimism”.

The red and yellow circles have also been refined to be flatter – a trait becoming increasingly common as brands look to adapt for digital, for example with the recent Instagram rebrand.

While the mark has been stripped back to its core, research conducted by Mastercard following the rebrand found that more than 80% of consumers still recognised the symbol without inclusion of the name.

“Through decades of exposure, the interlocking circles have become so recognisable that they can be reduced to their essence and still communicate Mastercard, at scales large and small, analog and digital, and ultimately, even without words,” says Bierut.


A new sans-serif typeface called FFMark has been incorporated into the logo, which draws inspiration from the brand’s 1979 mark, which used typography with a circular structure. Bierut says will not only be used for the wordmark but for all copy purposes for the brand, both consumer and business-facing.

“There are very few brands that own a particular font,” he says. “It doesn’t happen on day one. But making a commitment to it will have the same effect as those two circles and two primary colours.”

The word “Mastercard” has been removed from the core of the circles, lost its drop shadow and lost its uppercase “M” and “C”.

Lowercasing the “c” was to take away an archaic idea of banking as being about “wallets, ATMs and plastic cards”, says Bierut, and bring it more in line with online transfers.


“The world that these guys operate in has changed radically over the past 20 years,” says Bierut. “Plastic cards won’t go away overnight and we’ll still use paper currency, but increasingly payment is happening online. There was a need to come up with something suited to the virtual world but which still conveyed the trust and gravitas of a financial institution with 50 years of history.”

The new lowercase logo also aims to bring the branding more in line with Mastercard’s products such as Masterpass, which until now has seen inconsistency in how letters are capped.


The overall aim of the rebrand project was to isolate the brand’s core elements to retain a sense of familiarity, value and trust, while bringing a sense of modernity to the company, whose visual look hasn’t changed since 1996.

“I don’t think anyone’s seen the new logo and thought, ‘Wow, that’s clever’,” says Bierut. “I think they think ‘Isn’t that what it already looks like?’ There was the argument that the two circles and two colours could be entirely abandoned – but brand familiarity and equity is really valuable.”

The new logo will begin to roll out this year, and will be attributed to new cards as the existing 2.3 billion expire, alongside all print collateral, ATMs, digital applications, head offices and advertising.

As of 7 January 2019, Mastercard has dropped its name from its logo, leaving just the two, overlapping circle symbols.
Hide Comments (13)Show Comments (13)
  • Ady van de Plas July 17, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    And what did this cost in terms of design

  • RJMUrphy July 17, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    I’m not surprised by the logo, but the typography isn’t grabbing me, maybe if it had been capitalised it would work for me better.

  • chris hamilton July 17, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    Assured, confident, reliable. Good to see designers both reviewing and respecting the past applications of the identity and retaining those elements that “simply works well”.

  • zander grinfeld July 18, 2016 at 9:18 am

    Interesting. Another flat design + (pretty much) geometric sans. Who’s next?

  • dj July 18, 2016 at 10:29 am

    Wow, how dull and devoid of personality can you make a logo?

  • Chris Clowes July 18, 2016 at 10:56 am

    “The red and yellow circles have also been refined to be flatter”. What? And if you’re going to put TM and ® symbols, make them big enough to be recognisable.

    • Steven Nicholson January 10, 2019 at 8:15 am

      If they were not recognisable how did you know they were there?

  • Jeremy Pilkington July 18, 2016 at 11:29 am

    Hmmm.. I like most everything Michael Beirut creates (since his Vignelli days and beyond), but this has more than a whiff of the ‘King’s new clothes’ about it to me… Yes, it respects past applications of the identity, but the shifts are so subtle it appears at first glance to be taking the piss – and probably commanding a telephone figure fee in the process. Probably would help to see all the iterations that the re-design went through before arriving at the final version, so ‘oiks’ like me can appreciate the sweat and endeavour involved in their ‘eureka’ moment.
    Am I jealous? You bet I am!

  • Wesley Anson July 18, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Less of this babble:
    Lowercasing the “c” was to take away an archaic idea of banking as being about “wallets, ATMs and plastic cards”.
    The translucency of the central orange colour also aims to reflect a sense of “transparency”
    …all three colours are now lighter and brighter to convey “optimism”.
    The red and yellow circles have also been refined to be flatter

    More of this:
    “I don’t think anyone’s seen the new logo and thought, ‘Wow, that’s clever’,” says Bierut. “I think they think ‘Isn’t that what it already looks like?’

  • C G July 18, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    Another homage to a previous version where ‘one of the most recognisable emblems worldwide’ is now losing it’s integrity through a lost colour palette and a timid use of typography.

    This is dismissed further through the use of the confused mono version of the logo and a set of visual applications which completely disregard everything the brand stands for… Well Done!

  • BT July 19, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    This logo now looks like 95% of all corporate logos today. There is no longer any distinctiveness to any of the new identity systems. They have no character. They are all very safe and generic. Two circles and a geometric san serif font. Wow. Looks great though on a screen I guess.

  • vivek gururani July 21, 2016 at 6:50 am

    Loved the new design of Mastercard!
    MasterCard’s new logo is not only an improvement, it will still be instantly recognizable by everyone who uses their products/services.

  • Dan Shaw January 10, 2019 at 10:39 am

    So so dull. Corporate branding has become so generic. The same workmarks backed up with copied and pasted rational.

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