The basic and clear Visa logo design helps boost its brand recognition. Despite some basic changes made to update the logo, Visa’s visual identity has stayed consistent enough to foster brand loyalty.
Each design feature, from the shape of the lettering to the logo’s color, evokes a sense of trust, reliability, and stability that a credit card company needs.
The gold and blue color scheme that Visa chose for its logo were meant to reference the majestic golden hills and blue skies of California, in which the bank was established. Even after doing away with the gold, Visa still uses blue since it brings to mind feelings of loyalty, trust, and stability.
Thanks to the positive feelings associated with blue, many financial logos use the color, including PayPal and American Express. The Visa logo was altered to its modern version as part of a sweeping rebranding effort by Visa. The color gradient and long flick help to portray a sense of movement and speed in the minimalistic logo.
Founded as a Bank of America credit card program in 1958, Visa has grown into a multibillion-dollar, multinational corporation in its own right. It’s one of the most popular electronic funds transfer services worldwide and handles a huge chunk of credit cards all over the world.
The Visa Logo Evolution
In 1958, the Bank of America started the pilot BankAmericard credit card scheme to be used only by the in-house product development team. The card was then licensed to banks abroad, too, with each referenced by localized brand names. BankAmericard later became known as Visa, and here’s how its logo has evolved throughout the years.
The original Visa emblem resembled a rectangular card with smooth rounded corners. The upper section of the card was dark blue, followed by a white middle part and finally an orange bottom part.
The inscription “BankAmericard” is featured in the middle, written in bold sans serif font. The letters were all written in uppercase, though “B” and “A” were drawn taller than the rest of the letters.
The name BankAmericard was changed to Visa to make the financial system multinational. The change of brand name enabled the company to expand the reach of its market since it was no longer confined to just the United States. It was also the right time to refresh the logo.
The logo designers opted for a familiar design: they just swapped out the name BankAmericard with Visa, maintaining the original colors and shapes. The word “Visa” is rendered in italics, with the “V” slant more pronounced. The letters feature serifs.
The designers lightened up the color scheme in 1992. The outline became blue and wider, and its rounded corners were straightened. This Visa logo design is still featured in some ads.
The logo designers increased the space between the letters and reduced the “V” slant slightly. In addition, they altered the color scheme from blue, white, and orange to cyan, white, and yellow.
Despite being immensely successful worldwide, Visa decided to update its visual identity. Since the company provided a myriad of financial services, the feeling was that it needed more than just a credit card to appear on its logo.
Therefore, the designers developed a trademark not too different from previous designs. In fact, the new design featured the same “Visa” wordmark but without an outer frame and rectangular elements.
The font was still italics, but the slope was reduced. The protruding corner of “V” is in yellow to highlight the conciseness and clarity of the wordmark.
Visa first ditched its classic color palette in 2014. The gold (which referenced the California hills) was done away with, and only blue (which symbolized the blue skies of California) was left. To diversify the emblem, a gradient was used.
Visa allegedly discarded yellow in order to get closer to its customers. In fact, many customers associate yellow with gold, symbolizing unattainable luxury and status. The Visa system, as a result, tried to avail their loans to the general public.
In 2021, the Visa logo designers decided to alter the color of the emblem to a much lighter blue shade, precisely royal blue.
The Visa Logo Design Elements
Color: The blue in the Visa emblem symbolizes the quality and reliability of Visa’s wide range of financial products, while the gold portrays the brand’s excellence and rich heritage.
Font: The current Visa logo design was introduced in early 2006, replacing the 30-year-old iconic corporate emblem that was renowned for its gold, white, and blue design. Originally appearing in 1976, the emblem featured the Visa brand name written between two lines.
The current Visa logo contains a somewhat italic font with a significant emphasis on the slant of the first letter—a winged “V.” Visa says that its logo was updated to underscore the variety of electronic payment services offered by the firm more effectively and efficiently.
The History of Visa
Visa International Service Association is the company that owns the Visa brand. The company is owned by more than 20,000 member banks worldwide that are licensed to hand out Visa cards using their own names, e.g. Wells Fargo Visa or Bank of America Visa.
Visa International itself neither issues cards nor provides cardholders with credit. Instead, each member bank hands out the cards, laying down its own terms and conditions (like the yearly fee for using the Visa card, interest rates charged on unsettled credit balances, as well as late payment penalties) of using the card.
Also, member banks are duty-bound to contact merchants with requests about accepting Visa cards as well as to provide the required technical assistance for the merchants to process Visa buying transactions. Member banks compete with each other for new Visa cardholders, but they all work together so that merchants can accept any Visa card issued by any member bank.
The central role of Visa International is to act as a middleman between merchants and cardholders. It achieves this by managing the massive 24/7 electronic payment network on which purchases are completed. In addition, Visa International is responsible for promoting its brand name via sponsorship deals, marketing, and other initiatives. In return, Visa largely makes money through the fees it charges member banks.
The Visa brand’s origins can be traced back to 1958 when the Bank of America started issuing the first-ever electronic payment card known as BankAmericard. In 1966, other US banks started receiving licenses from the Bank of America to hand out the BankAmericard to customers.
In 1970, the Bank of America sold the BankAmericard credit card system to National BankAmericard, Inc (NBI), a newly formed consortium where all banks that gave out BankAmericard had the same stake. A National Bank official in Seattle, Dee W. Hock, oversaw the formation of the NBI.
During the early 1970s, the BankAmericard credit card scheme started a process of branching out internationally. Through deals with foreign banks, BankAmericard was issued under numerous different names, such as Bancomer in Mexico, Chargex in Canada, Barclaycard in the UK, and Sumitomo Card in Japan. Eventually, BankAmericard and affiliate cards were renamed “Visa” in 1976, which was easy to recognize and pronounce the same way worldwide.
Since the introduction of the name Visa more than four decades ago, the brand has achieved exponential growth and made the most of emerging technologies to enhance the convenience, reliability, and efficiency of its services. Throughout the better part of its existence, Visa has outperformed its main rivals, including American Express, MasterCard, and Discover, when it comes to worldwide appeal and brand recognition.
One of the greatest successes Visa has tasted in terms of brand promotion was when the company won the right to officially sponsor the Olympic Games. In the deal, the company would pay a hefty sponsorship fee in return for being the sole debit or credit card accepted for buying tickets, souvenir items, and other stuff on sale at the Olympics.
Also, Visa would be the sole credit /debit card accepted by ATMs in official Olympic venues, including the Olympics Complex. Moreover, Visa would be the sole credit card firm entitled to display its logo or advertise at the Olympics. This exclusive deal, which was to run through the 2012 London Olympics, proved hugely successful in raising the awareness of Visa internationally.
Furthermore, Visa massively expanded its services in the 1980s by allowing cardholders to instantly access their cash through collaboration with Plus System, one of America’s largest ATM networks. During the late 1980s, thanks to a deal with Interlink, the biggest US network taking debit cards in retail stores and restaurants, Visa became the number one debit card brand countrywide.
By allowing its customers to pay for daily purchases like gas and groceries using a debit card, Visa unlocked a whole new world of convenience for its cardholders. With the rapid rise in debit card use and the advent of e-commerce in the 1990s, Visa switched its focus to implementing new technologies in order to improve the capacity, speed, safety, and security of its own payment processing network.
Today, Visa is available in over 200 countries and regions in the world, enabling the purchase of goods and services online on any device—whether it be cards, tablets, mobile devices, laptops, and desktop computers. While Visa continues to evolve, its central focus stays the same—to offer the best method for everyone to make payments and get paid all over the world.
Early in the 21st century, as many people started to shop, pay bills, bank, and carry out other financial activities on the internet, protecting electronic information from fraud became critical in the credit/debit card industry.
Debit or credit card fraud refers to a type of theft where someone pays for goods and/or services with another person’s credit card number. Often, the credit card fraudster makes thousands of bucks’ worth of buys before either the bank or cardholder realizes that the card is in the wrong hands.
Among other initiatives, Visa introduced the “Verified by Visa” program in 2002, designed to increase the security of making purchases online by requiring the cardholder to enter their password before completing any purchase.
However, both MasterCard and Visa were involved in a significant security breach at a lesser-known, third-party payment processor named CardSystems Solutions in Tucson, Arizona, in 2005, which put the accounts of at least 40 million cardholders at the risk of fraud.
This security breach drew serious attention to the challenge of securing electronic information. Immediately after that, in a bid to restore customer confidence in electronic payment systems, Visa and MasterCard combined forces to establish an independent body called the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Security Standards Council, which would set and enforce security protocols throughout the credit card industry.
Summing Up the History of Visa
Visa Inc. is a United States multinational financial services conglomerate based in Foster City, California. It enables electronic funds transfers worldwide, most commonly via Visa-branded debit cards, credit cards, and prepaid cards. It’s also one of the most recognized and profitable companies globally.
Visa was founded as Bank of America’s BankAmericard credit card scheme in September 1958. In response to competition from Master Charge (present-day MasterCard), Bank of America started licensing the BankAmericard credit card to other banks in 1966.
Bank of America relinquished direct control of BankAmericard, forming a conglomerate with various banks issuing BankAmericard to take charge of its management. BankAmericard was then rebranded as Visa in 1976.
Visa doesn’t issue debit or credit cards, set fees and rates for consumers, or extend credit. Instead, it provides banks with Visa-branded payment solutions that they can use to offer cash access, prepaid, credit, and debit programs to their respective customers.
According to the Nilson Report of 2015, Visa’s worldwide network (called VisaNet) completed 100 billion transactions throughout 2014, worth at least $6.8 trillion.
There are more than 8,500 people employed by Visa worldwide, and, as of 2012, the company had total assets worth $40.013 billion.