I read an article recently on designers who are trying to redesign everything important and rarely finding a new design that replaces a powerful existing design.
One failure reported was a re-design of the MasterCard logo. The designers succeeded in changing some element of one of the colors and using lines in the overlapping circles for low grade reproduction circumstances. Trivial changes. Insignificant.
Of course I was involved in the original design and naming of the card. “Involved” is a misnomer or a braggadocio mistake. The advertising man on the case, Bob Footman at Foote, Cone and Belding was powerful and made all the decisions himself. He used a little focus group research and asked close business allies their opinions. The reality is that Bob made the decisions. I was a close friend who always supported him.
Bob’s logic, with which I concurred, was that we were targeting a new market for charge cards: women shoppers. Previous general purpose charge cards had been aimed at travelling business men: American Express, Diners Club and Carte Blanche.
Therefore the card had to be white, the symbol of female, virginity and weddings. It had to show the other symbol of female too: female genitalia. Two overlapping circles.
We agreed on the design and never flinched in explaining the symbolism to the few higher ranking decision makers.
With that kind of thinking and candor, no wonder the design had held up globally so well.