Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Logo Meaning: Visa Logo

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It’s the first major redesign of the familiar Visa flag logo since 1982.

The new Visa logo has been designed to be instantly recognisable, with a colour scheme and typeface similar to the original… and of course the word ‘Visa’. The new logo is more modern and more visible, so your customers can easily spot it on your signage, decals or marketing materials.

Worldwide research shows that people prefer Visa’s more prominent new logo. They also understand that they can use new cards in shops with older signage, and vice versa. In the coming months and years the revised branding will become more and more common. And by 2011, almost every card you see will carry the new mark.

What changes is Visa making to its logo and card design?
Visa is refreshing the famous blue, white, and gold Visa logo to give it a new look.

Why did Visa change its logo and card design?
Visa has grown from a credit card company to a payments company that offers a range of payment products and services. The new Visa logo and card design reflect the evolution of Visa.

When did the current Visa logo start appearing?
The current logo began appearing on Visa cards as well as in advertising, marketing, and online communications in January 2006. Visa cards and communications with the current Visa Brand Mark will coexist with cards and communications that feature the Visa Flag until June 30, 2011.

By Karen Gullett, Senior Vice President, Global Brand and Marketing, Visa International

“What’s in a name?” asked William Shakespeare back in the 16th century. Four hundred and fifty years later, most multinational companies with globally recognizable brands would probably respond: quite a lot. In the case of Visa, it encompasses 21,000 member banks worldwide, which collectively issue more than 1 billion cards that are used to pay for US $3 trillion worth of goods and services at more than 20 million retailers in 150 countries.

What lies behind the figures is an emotional quotient that is hard to define and almost impossible to quantify – the brand. A brand is more than a logo and a name; it is the way in which a consumer perceives the organization behind the corporate identity. Based on a number of consumer, retailer, and bank research studies, the Visa brand promises the user the opportunity to accomplish what is important to them embodying such qualities as relevance, convenience, “security”, and “global and local acceptance”.

A number of years ago, Peter Sealey, professor at the Haas School of Business at U.C. Berkeley, California, shocked an audience of Visa member banks and employees by claiming that if he had to choose between the Visa brand and all its systems, buildings, equipment, employees, he would opt for the brand. His point, while radical and thankfully hypothetical, gets to the heart of what more and more organizations are realizing: brands are extremely precious and should be valued just like any other corporate asset. In most instances, great brands are the result of a confluence of disciplined management, great people, great products, great creative energy, mixed with time and a continued commitment to evolve the brand to meet the current business needs.

The Origins of the Visa Brand
In the case of Visa, all the above factors played their part. What made the Visa brand experience different was the singularly unique vision and style of the organization’s founder Dee Hock and his small team of ambitious and innovative employees.

Interestingly, the Visa logo – the familiar blue, white, and gold stripes – predates the name Visa. In 1958, 65,000 residents of Fresno, California received a BankAmericard emblazoned with a variation on a flag theme.

By the 1970s, National BankAmericard Incorporated (NBI) had grown to become an international organization, though there was no unifying brand name. Each bank used their own name with some form of the blue, white and gold flag. Some countries went so far as to create pan-national brands. The Canadian banks, for example, issued BankAmericards under the “Chargex” brand.

An Evolution in Four Letters
Dee Hock recognized the power of a coherent global brand that would unify the disparate members of the NBI family worldwide. Rather than turn to a renowned branding agency, Dee Hock turned to his employees for inspiration. He created a set of principles to guide employees in the right direction; the name had to be short, graphic, international, and instantly recognizable. Over the next couple of months, the name Visa emerged as the obvious choice, though few people believed that such a name would not yet be trademarked. Incredibly, Visa was available for trademark for use in financial services.

The three stripes survived the transition from BankAmericard to Visa to become an integral part of the Visa brand image. In fact, while incremental changes have been made, the Visa brand has hardly changed in the intervening 30 years.

The name Visa was an inspired choice. First, it fulfilled all of Dee Hock’s critieria. What’s more, Visa is a rare example of a brand that communicates its essence simply and elegantly.

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