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PHMG explores: a priceless sonic rebrand

Feb 22, 2019
Only a handful of corporations have achieved an identity so strong they’re instantaneously recognisable without words. In this clique you’ll find commercial giants including Apple, Nike, McDonalds, and now, Mastercard. The company’s decision to drop the name from its logo comes at the same time as the introduction of their sonic brand: The Mastercard Melody. Together, the striking logo and bright audio logo will assert Mastercard’s presence – every time you successfully tap your card on the reader; whenever a transaction comes through on your app; or on-hold, on TV and radio, and in a host of digital channels.

PHMG explores: mastercard gif

At face value alone, it’s an efficacious adjustment into the pint-sized screens of digital watches and smart phones. Cramming a ten letter word into such a tiny space was never going to be easy, and having an instantaneous tone to confirm your transactions eliminates the need to physically check your device. But, for Mastercard, it’s more significant than that. This is a move to streamline its brand-identity into a world not just beyond cash, but beyond the ‘card’ in its own name. Vox research showed that of Mastercard’s 2.1 billion membership reach, over 80 percent of people could instantly identify the brand without its name present. So chances are you’d recognise its red and yellow intersecting circles at a first glance too. They’d established a captive audience, now it was just a case of keeping them interested.

So how do you hold onto half a century of cumulative brand loyalty while turning your product on its head? You’d think an impossible job, but so far, Mastercard is making it appear seamless, and the iconic logo is only one piece of that. The Mastercard Melody is a short series of chirps that invokes the same sense of nostalgia you might feel when you successfully turn on a windows computer, or hear I’m lovin’ it’. It adds a new dimension to Mastercard’s brand identity, just as recognisable as the two circles, and delivers a sense of rapport and familiarity with audiences.

And just as we do at PHMG with our team of composers, Mastercard curated a skilled team of musicians – including Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda – to create a sound based on the brand’s individual attributes; reliable, inclusive, passionate, energetic, surprising, delightful and captivating.

This commercial giant put such an investment in sound because the role of voice and audio marketing has become a more valuable way to connect with your audience than ever before. In fact, Marketing Dive reports sonic branding is set to reach more than $40 billion in revenue by just 2022, and with smart speaker ownership up 27%, it’s reaching more consumers than ever before. In fact, following the announcement of Mastercard’s sonic branding, news outlets have been abuzz with the influence of audio. Our own research at PHMG has even been highlighted in reports of this exciting Mastercard project – that 60% of consumers recall tunes in commercials more than they do visuals. The audio renaissance we’re experiencing has been perfectly summarised by Matt Lieber, Cofounder and president of the podcast company Gimlet:

phmg explores: gimlet image

So it’s no surprise that Mastercard, determined to remain a pioneer in their stomping ground, would be at the forefront of this advertising shift. Raja Rajamannar, Mastercard’s CMO, has proudly noted ‘sound adds a powerful new dimension to our brand identity’, and is not taking any shortcuts. The new sonic brand debuted in unison with the pared-back logo at none other than the 61st Grammy Awards – perhaps the most famous music awards show in the world.

To sell something unique for almost 60 years, remarkable. But the reward of having your brand immediately recognised in just a moment? Priceless.