Credit Cards

Mastercard joins the world of sonic branding with new audio logo

By: Lisa Coxon on February 14, 2019

Making a purchase with your Mastercard is about to get a little musical. The credit card giant debuted its new audio logo last week — a transaction sound that will play every time a consumer uses their Mastercard.

It’s called the Mastercard Melody and over the next three to five years, it will be rolled out across the globe.

The audio logo is the most recent step in what appears to be a three-pronged rebranding effort by Mastercard. In 2016, Mastercard released its first new logo in 20 years. And earlier this year, it decided to go nameless and drop the Mastercard name from its iconic two-circles logo.

This latest move is emblematic of Mastercard throwing its hat in the sonic branding ring, as the visual ad space becomes more and more saturated. “You really need to add your presence to other senses,” Raja Rajamannar, Mastercard’s chief marketing and communications officer, told the Financial Post.

In a 2017 Visa consumer survey of eight countries, 81% of participants said they would have a more positive perception of merchants who used either sound or animation cues. The survey also revealed that sounds less than a second in length were found to signal speed and convenience to the consumer.

“Sound adds a powerful new dimension to our brand identity and a critical component to how people recognize Mastercard today and in the future,” Rajamannar said in a press release. “It is important that our sonic brand not only reinforces our presence, but also resonates seamlessly around the world.”

That wasn’t an easy or inexpensive feat. To find the right sound, Mastercard called on musicologists and 45 recording artists, including Mike Shinoda of American rock band Linkin Park. The company wanted to create a “subtle” and unobtrusive sound.

“It has been a massive undertaking so far,” Rajamannar told the Post.

The company spent months researching and shortlisting various sounds. It also hired musicians to adapt its “sonic architecture” to suit different regions, purposes, or music genres. Versions were developed for opera, electronic dance music, and variations were made for places like Dubai, Cape Town, and Bogota.

“You’re in India, you’re in China, you’re in Latin America,” Rajamannar said. “You should not feel the melody is alien to you.”

There’s the original master version, then a shorter one (four or six notes) for transactions, as well as longer versions for TV commercial soundtracks.

“It’s a real, serious investment,” Rajamannar continued. “I cannot give you a ballpark but it’s not cheap, let me assure you of that. It’s not a low number. It’s global, with a multiplicity of versions and the celebrities involved. I will leave it to your best guess.”

The sound is expected to be used for on-hold music, at the end of commercials, and of course play after every successful transaction. It’s not clear what customers will hear, however, if a transaction is declined.

Will it make a different sound altogether, maybe something in the realm of a depressing “womp womp”? Because that would be embarrassing.