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Mastercard Logo Tracing its Historical Significance, Symbolism & Evolution

by Alice Jackson Tweet - in Logo Design

Last updated on July 14th, 2023

The Mastercard logo is an outstanding design with two overlapping circles in red and yellow. It effectively communicates a sense of association, togetherness, and trust. The logo has undergone subtle changes over the years, leading to its current minimalist design. Delve into the fascinating journey of the Mastercard logo as we explore its historical significance, symbolism, and evolution.

Mastercard is the world’s second-largest payment-processing corporation. Since its inception in 1966, the financial giant has managed people’s finances and payments. Its logo also evokes the trust that people have in its services. The company’s identity is the logo design with two red and orange circles overlapping. But the logo also has gone through several design changes over the decades.

The Mastercard Corporation provides Mastercard-branded payment cards. The company collaborates with establishments worldwide to offer its services to people. The Mastercard payment cards conduct all transaction communications exclusively through the Mastercard network. Debit cards, credit cards, and prepaid cards are all payment cards. 

Gross dollar volume (GDV) fees serve as the primary source of income for Mastercard — a prominent financial services provider. The Mastercard logo is usually shown on Mastercard cards. The emblem, which is a closed circle, is often absent from retail store cards. The Mastercard logo is also displayed on open-loop cards to help users determine their eligibility for usage.  

According to Chuck Breuel, VP of Brand Marketing at Mastercard, “We haven’t touched our brand mark for about 20 years now, and the company has changed dramatically in that time. We’ve expanded all of our products and services, and that’s really accelerated over the past few years.”

What Does The Mastercard Logo Mean?

Mastercard is a globally renowned payment network. It is the second-largest payment network after Visa. The Mastercard logo has overlapping circles, indicating the connection the company wants to make with its customers.

The circular shape indicates easy accessibility of the company’s products to people. It also expresses the inclusiveness of the card for all.

Two circles combine to form a differently colored shape in the middle. That stands for unification and connection with more people from other continents.

Mastercard logo is a geometric composition having two circles in red and orange. They overlap each other to symbolize unity, connection, and cooperation.

MasterCharge: 1966-1979

Mastercard logo design history started in the 1960s when the card was known as Master Charge. The logo displayed a tagline as ‘The Interbank Charge,’ with the ‘i’ of Interbank created in black at the bottom right corner.

In 1968, MasterCharge got a new design with the brand name in lowercase and ‘The Interbank Card’ in capital letters. At that time, it indicated a forward-thinking modern banking product.

Also, the color palette of the logo—red and orange—helps convey the logo’s meaning. These two colors evoke passion and progress.

Original Mastercard Logo: 1979 – 1990


In 1979, the MasterCharge name was replaced with a new brand name Master Card. The change of name also resulted in a change in the logo design. Previously, the brand name was in lowercase letters.

The new logo had the initials M and C in capital letters, indicating the brand’s authority and determination to make it big in the niche. It also conveyed simplicity and sophistication.

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The Logo Makeover: 1990-1996


In 1990, the company tweaked the Mastercard logo again to make it relevant to the target audience of those times. The new redesign had bright colors, with the orange circle shifted to yellow. This measure made the logo appear approachable and friendly.

Another change in the Mastercard emblem design was the inclusion of horizontal strips where the two circles overlapped. The yellow and red stripes made the logo recognizable and memorable. Also, the wordmark appeared in italic letters to make it look sophisticated and elegant.

New Dominant Look: 1996-2016

In 1996, the Master card logo got a new and refreshing look. This time the colors red and yellow were brighter than ever before. The wordmark also was less italicized. Also, the letters in white had a black shadow.

The new logo also had a lesser number of horizontal strips. That was when minimalism was a new norm in the design world.

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Minimalistic Design: 2016-2020

In 2016, the company made yet another change in its logo design. The first significant change occurred by removing the strips in the middle where the two circles merge. This makes the two circles in red and orange look simple.

Another noticeable change was regarding the wordmark. The company’s name was previously on the two circles in bold letters. This time, the brand name shifted to underneath the two circles. Also, instead of the initials M and C being in capitals, the entire brand name was in lowercase in a sans-serif typeface. This gave the logo a confident look.

This change in the logo was due to the emphasis on making the logo minimalist. The logo got a sleek new look.

Colors Only Logo: 2019-Today

The company redesigned its logo in 2019 to make it more minimalistic. The company removed its name entirely from the logo. The design looks like two overlapping circles of red and orange. The newest version is not just minimalist but also looks like artwork.

Mastercard switched to the most minimalist design since it found in research that people identified the circles with their brand. The red and yellow circles were instantly recognizable and helped the brand stand out in the niche banking sector.

Mastercard CMO Raja Rajamannar said in AdWeek, “The Mastercard logo is recognized universally. There are 2.2 billion cards that carry the Mastercard logo. Millions of merchants worldwide carry the Mastercard logo at the point of sale. The key for us is the equity in that logo—we have to leverage that going into the future. We had to retain the most recognizable elements of our brand, which are the interlocking circles, the red and yellow colors, and the name Mastercard itself. That’s exactly the path we’ve embarked upon.”

The new Mastercard brand mark has enabled the company to build a strong brand identity. It has also strengthened its global presence and brand image. So, the brand only changed the new logo partially. The Mastercard symbol still has its core identity of the two red and yellow circles overlapping. That still conveys the brand message of connection, togetherness, and unity.

The wordmark is in all lowercase because the brand did not want to emphasize the word ‘card.’ This is because the brand deals in just one payment type and not all the other digital payment types.

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Wrapping Up

Mastercard logo today looks like the most minimalist design with just two overlapping red and orange circles. It started its design journey as MasterCharge, with two large red and brown circles overlapping. Mastercard logo design, later, was kept further simple as its identity. The color palette in the 90s had turned brighter to reflect the brand’s confidence in its niche. It has mostly stayed the same since then, with the latest design being simply the two circles.

Alice Jackson is a business consultant, blogger, social media enthusiast, online market analyst, amateur designer and an avid author at Designhill. She has written on several topics including social media marketing, SEO, content marketing, startup strategies and e-commerce. When she’s not writing, she loves spending her time reading romantic novels, Connect with her on Twitter: @jackson_alice1



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