The Importance of Brand Coding

There is more to brand recognition than the logo. Many factors can play a part in helping consumers recognise brands such as graphics and symbols. These are known as codes that marketers can implement in adverts, product, staff uniforms and packaging.


The use of these codes must be consistent in order for them to stick in consumers minds and are extremely important in order for brands to achieve distinctiveness within the market. Consumers associate codes with a brand and immediately recognise them – even when the logo is yet to appear. Some well-known examples of this include the iconic blue hue which now personifies Tiffany, Burberry’s use of their check pattern which is now globally recognized and, the international utilization of purple packaging in all of Cadbury’s products.


Mastercard made the decision to drop the company name from its logo in January this year – instead opting for the simple red and orange overlapping circles as its logo. Those iconic circles can be seen on the debit and credit cards that a large majority of the population own, creating an affinity with the brand for consumers before they even view the Mastercard logo on adverts.


Within larger corporations, it has become the standard to criticize any attempt to change or adapt logos however, Mastercard’s rebrand has proven to be effective. After decades of implementing the circles, it has demonstrated that brands can stay true to their heritage whilst updating a brand – although it was only the result of Mastercards consistency with the use of this icon that the logo update was both successful and recognizable.


Another brand implementing these codes is Coca Cola. In 2016 the company decided to simplify its design because of its new ‘one brand strategy’ – ensuring all products feature the same red circular logo as a visual code. This new development by Coca Cola is significant because it demonstrates the power of the graphical elements outside of the logo that can quickly make a connection in the mind of the consumer. This is important for brands in a world where consumers have logos thrown at them left right and centre. There is a need for other signifiers that consumers can notice, recognise and associate themselves with, without feeling overwhelmed.


Mastercard is not simply changing its logo for a brand refresh. Thanks to decades of heavily implemented brand coding, they have earnt the ability to assume that everyone knows the company through its logo – with no name required. This decision has enabled Mastercard to modernise the brand without straying from its roots – ensuring distinctiveness.

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