#Campaigns: Sounding out Mastercard’s modern brand identity
by Carey Finn (@carey_finn) Mastercard has added a new aural dimension to its brand identity. By now, you’ve probably heard about the launch of the payment technology company’s catchy melody, which was announced Friday, 8 February 2019, and has been echoing around ad- and brand-land. The signature soundscape has made headlines for several reasons.
Prime among these is that the debut of the Mastercard melody is the second significant piece of news for the brand this year — in January, the company announced that it would be removing the text from its well-known brand mark to join other “symbol brands” like Nike and Apple. This is part of an ongoing effort, begun in 2016, to modernise the brand.
Embedding a sonic element gains Mastercard access to another exclusive brand club: those which are ready to respond to consumers in the growing voice-commerce space. This market is expected to grow to US$40bn by 2022, as uptake of voice-assistant technologies (including Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa) increases around the globe. Brands that are gearing up for the aural mall include Visa, HSBC and Philips, all of which have recently added new sound dimensions to their identities.
Consumers’ changing needs
“We are continually evolving to meet consumers’ changing needs while maintaining the simple, secure and seamless experience people have come to expect from Mastercard,” says Beatrice Cornacchia, Mastercard SVP, marketing and communications, Middle East and Africa. “We are perceived, by our consumers, as a very trustworthy, modern and forward-thinking company,” she says, adding that these values have underpinned all strategic business, marketing and communications decisions.
According to Cornacchia, it was the company’s responsibility, as one of the world’s most-recognised brands, to be at the forefront of innovation and change, and that Mastercard wanted to give consumers a new experience and environment-agnostic opportunity for interaction. “Sound is our next frontier for brand expression and a powerful way for us to create a connection with consumers,” she says, explaining that it offers a way to be close to the consumer, even where no card is used.
Mastercard’s sounds, as wordless as its logo, will, over the next few years, become present at all brand-engagement points, from point-of-sale to advertisements and hold music.
Diverse creative team
Production of the Mastercard melody, which took more than a year and a half, relied on a diverse team of creatives from different countries, among them Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park fame. Raja Rajamannar, Mastercard chief marketing and communications officer, says that the goal has been to produce a melody that is distinct while also being adaptable to different contexts: “It is important that our sonic brand not only reinforces our presence, but also resonates seamlessly around the world.”
Although by no means musical experts, says Cornacchia, Mastercard knew exactly what it wanted to communicate through the melody. The attributes the team set out to associate with the sound have been fivefold: inclusivity, passion, surprise, delight and captivation.
As part of the rollout of the signature sound, Mastercard has enlisted the help of Grammy-nominee, Camila Cabello, in a multichannel marketing programme that includes this commercial (part of the new melody is audible right at the end).
Putting the consumer first
Going forward, Mastercard will be changing the way it communicates with consumers, says Cornacchia. In response to negative perceptions, and blocking, of advertisements in general, the company would, she suggests, be moving away from more0traditional forms of advertising and putting the consumer first, working to share content that is relevant to them.
In South Africa, she says, this year’s Rugby World Cup, of which Mastercard is a sponsor, will provide an opportunity for local consumers to become more familiar with the evolving brand identity and its sound architecture, with the help of a special, as yet unnamed, ambassador.
Carey Finn (@carey_finn) is a writer and editor with over a decade and a half of industry experience, having covered everything from ethical sushi in Japan to the technicalities of roofing, agriculture, medical stuff and more. She’s also taught English and journalism, and dabbled in various other communications ventures along the way, including risk reporting. She is a contributing writer to MarkLives.com
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