The MasterCard OMG WTF Rebranding

posted on July 5th, 2006 by Anthony

The MasterCard logo is one of the most recognised on the high street. Whether that street is 5th Avenue NYC, or a back alley in Kuala Lumpar, you are likely to see those two interlocking circles stuck to the front door of most of the shops.

The origins of the MasterCard logo go back to 1966. A vintage year, when England could actually live up to the hype of the nation…

The original Interbank Logo


MasterCard started life when 17 bankers got together to sort out how to make the whole credit card thing work. Once they’d bashed out all the finer details they signed agreements and the Interbank Card Association was formed. The first logo was drawn up – a fairly standard ‘i’ in a single black circle.

Master Charge

In 1969 it was clear that a much stronger brand was needed to push the cards to the public, so the brand name Master Charge was introduced with tag line of ‘The Interbank Card’ just to remind everyone.

The Master Charge logo

The interlocking circles made their first appearance on the logo – I can’t find an official reason, but I’m assuming they represent the inter-connecting relationship of the banks, or some other such nonsense. You might notice that yellow back then was a much muddier shade of gold.

The little ‘i’ was moved way into the back of peoples mind, only making a small cameo in the bottom right.

The original version of the MasterCard logo

The First MasterCard

Ten years later it was decided the brand needed even more strengthening. They did this by simplifying everything. The familiar name of MasterCard was introduced (a bit of a Ronseal move), with all traces of the Interbank heritage eradicated – except for the all-important red and yellow overlapping circles.

MasterCard was written in a bold, white face across the circles – simple but highly effective.

The 1990 redesigned MasterCard logo


By 1990, with the MasterCard brand well and truly ingrained on the world’s wallets, the first changes were introduced. Taking a very evolutionary approach the logo was really just freshened up to better reflect the times.

The type was italicised and a larger, bolder face was used and is still in use today.

The circles were also modified. The yellow was brightened up considerably, and the art lesson colour wheel style blending of the circles was dropped. Thin horizontal lines were introduced to strengthen the motif of the interlocking of the circles.

Xtra-Strong Refreshing

In 1996 MasterCard decided to go on a huge offensive against their arch enemies at Visa. They started doing those ‘Priceless’ adverts and generally pushing themselves on the public harder than ever before.

The current MasterCard logo

To go with this they again tweaked their logo to help things along.

They made the type even bigger and added some drop shadow to help it stand out better.

The number of lines in the interlocking of the circles were reduced, but also thickened up at the same time. This made the relationship of the circles much stronger – and also reminds me of the dove tails I used to knock out in DT lessons (except the MasterCard ones are a lot straighter).

The OMG WTF Rebranding

Today I saw a post regarding another rebranding of the logo – and here she is:

The new Corporate OMG WTF logo

She ain’t a looker that’s for sure.

It kind of looks like the work of a 13 year old that has just been shown how to use Bevel/Emboss.

It’s weirdly off centre, it almost totally hides the famous brand and it makes all the colours very fussy and washed out…

At first I thought the company had complete lost it’s senses and plain ruined one of the most instantly recognised brands in the world.

Fortunately I’ve since discovered the new brand is only to be used at a corporate level – it’s not for Joe Public. Thank God.

Here’s the rationale:

The three circles of the new corporate logo build on the familiar interlocking red and yellow circles of the MasterCard consumer brand, and reflect the company’s unique, three-tiered business model as a franchisor, processor and advisor:

1) As a franchisor, MasterCard Worldwide markets a strong family of brands worldwide, opening the door to commerce at more than 24 million merchant locations around the world.

2) As a processor, MasterCard Worldwide enables efficient commerce on a global scale through its agile network that offers unsurpassed speed, integration and reliability. MasterCard technology helps banks differentiate themselves through a flexible, customizable processing platform.

3) As an advisor, MasterCard Worldwide provides industry-leading insight and solutions that advance commerce. Through dedicated account teams and MasterCard Advisors, the only global consultancy focused exclusively on the payments industry, MasterCard provides strategic and operational solutions covering the payments process from end-to-end.

Which one of these processes is the Fugly Bevel Moster Circle is not made clear….