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What’s in a name: Why iconic brands are dropping names for logos

Brands are increasingly simplifying their logos and removing the clutter. Experts say removing the wordmark may help a brand achieve an iconic status where they can be identified by the visual symbols. But does it always work? BestMediaInfo.com explores if a brand logo can stand tall without its name

The trend of brands removing their names from the logo and going the visual way is really catching up. Recently MasterCard decided to make its red and yellow circles even more iconic by dropping the brand name, an identity that has been with it for the last 50 years. MasterCard joins the league of other brands such as Nike, Apple, Target and others, which rely on the image and not in the brand name.

Commenting on whether the change will reflect across all the touch points, Manasi Narasimhan, Vice-President, Marketing and Communications, South Asia, MasterCard, said, “In today’s digital-first world, it’s clear that brand identities need to evolve and expand. We understand that there are certain instances and certain markets where the name continues to play a large role. That is why we are not making a wholesale change. Instead, we will continue to use the brandmark with the word ‘MasterCard’ in a variety of touch points, including most corporate and B2B communications, our premium (silver) brand mark and in select emerging markets.”


Narasimhan added, “We will be dropping our name from our brand mark in select contexts, such as cards that use the red and yellow brand mark, merchant acceptance marks and sponsorship events as it is easier to translate across cultures and countries.”

A brand logo is what stands out and it differentiates one from the other in the cluttered market.


Why do brands want to go the visual way?

Commenting on why do brands prefer the visual route, Karthik Raman, CMO, Head Products and Strategy, IDBI Federal Life Insurance, said, “It is a sense of confidence that even my logo is recognised. It is the popularity and association of the people with the logo. It has taken years for them to evolve to that stage. It is a matter of pride that I don’t have to put my name; just my logo is enough for people to associate with me.”

Suresh Eriyat, Director, Studio Eeksaurus feels that the text aides the visual, but once the connection is complete, the visual is free to be independent. He explains that brands that choose to do away with their names are those that have hammered enough in the minds of the consumers.

Can new-age brands afford to take the step?

Talking about whether new brands can take the step, Pops aka KV Sridhar, Founder and Chief Creative Officer, HyperCollective, said, “For new brands it might be very difficult, you need to know what the brand is for. For brands that are there for long time, you don’t need the brand name. You see and then you recognise, you actually don’t sit and read the name of the brand. In that way, they have already become visuals.”

Echoing similar views, Eriyat too feels that new brands should never do it. He explains that the brands that choose to go the visual way are those that have achieved adulthood, they don’t need any kind of support, and have grown beyond that.

Can the strategy backfire?

Pops said there are times when it may backfire as well, like what happened with the Gap logo. After the immense criticism, they got back to their original one. “Yes, there should be a certain amount of familiarity, but brands will have to take a chance. People are basically very unpredictable in their nature, you don’t know when and how they will react,” he said.

Commenting on how it helps the brand in terms of their recall in the cluttered market, Pops elaborated, “One is simplicity, and second is it liberates the logo. It becomes much simpler, you don’t need the words.”


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