Friday, July 15, 2016

From 1990: The striped MasterCard logo

There's not much point in rehashing the story behind the new Mastercard logo here. What is arguably the biggest rebrand of the year has already been covered extensively by Creative Review, Brand New and just about every media outlet that would cover something like this.

Instead, we can take a look at the logo it replaces: the striped double circle logo from 1990. It is a logo that is most notable for its total ubiquity, not for the actual design. While the names and work of Rand and Bass are known even to non-designers, few would know who designed the MasterCard logo a quarter century ago. As it happens, that redesign was done by a New York-based firm called Lister Butler.

The double circle motif was first introduced in the late 60s, when the card was still known as Master Charge. In the late 70s, the name was changed to MasterCard and a clean new logo was adopted, designed by Siegel & Gale in New York.

Lister Butler's redesign saw the adoption of a more contemporary typeface and brighter colours, with the previous "pea soup" colour being replaced by a brighter yellow. The intersection was changed into 23 stripes.

The work on the MasterCard redesign was led by John Lister himself and designer Jim Yestadt (who sadly died at a young age a few years later). It took the form of a complete corporate identity programme.

Michael Roman, who was contracted by Lister butler to work on the MasterCard project, has posted several more images from the project in his portfolio. They can be seen here.

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Later on, Lister Butler would also work on MasterCard's ancillary products, the Cirrus ATM system and Maestro debit card, giving them logos with same form as the MasterCard logo but with their own colours.

In the mid-90s, Interbrand Schechter (now part of Interbrand New York) would undertake an extensive revision of the corporate identity programme. This would eventually include a refresh of the corporate mark. The number of lines in the intersection was reduced and a dark blue drop shadow was added behind the wordmark. That is the version of the MasterCard logo that stood until yesterday.

1996 version of the logo.

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