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Visa commences global rebranding

16 February 2006

Visa commences global rebranding in the year of its 30th birthday

Visa’s new look marks one of the largest rebranding exercises the world has ever seen

Auckland, 16 February 2005 – In the year of its 30th birthday one of the world’s most recognisable brands is undertaking an extensive global rebranding campaign.

Expected to take more than half a decade to implement and considered to be one of the largest global brand changes, Visa International’s new look will be made to 1.3 billion cards, 24 million merchants and one million ATM machines worldwide, not to mention countless websites carrying the Visa brand.

The changes will happen gradually but on a massive scale in New Zealand with more than two million Visa cards, 100,000 merchants and 1,900 ATM machines affected. From today New Zealanders will start to see the new Visa brand appearing on newly issued cards, in advertising, at retail outlets and on ATM machines.

“We’ve come a long way since the Zip Zap National Bank Visa days (an advertisement that became a Visa hallmark in New Zealand in the early 1980s),” says Visa International’s, New Zealand Country Manager, Iain Jamieson. “The new look logo reinforces the message that Visa is not simply a credit card but a complete offering of more than 70 services including prepaid products, commercial payment solutions plus processing and authentication services.”

As well as a refreshed Visa logo on the card and at the point-of-sale, the rebranding also heralds the introduction of a more secure card which embeds the dove hologram currently on the front of today’s cards, with the magnetic stripe on the back to make card counterfeiting more difficult.

“The updated brand will work better across new technologies and payment channels, such as the Internet, mobile phones and handheld devices. By integrating the dove hologram with the magnetic stripe on the back of the card it will be more secure and allow a larger part of the front of the card to be used for new designs or communication from the issuing bank,” says Mr Jamieson.

A rebranding campaign of this magnitude needs a lot of planning, with preparations to rebrand first being announced by Visa International in March last year.

“Besides replacing expired cards and issuing new customers with the new look cards there are nearly 25 million merchants around the world which need to be educated about the brand changes so they know to accept the new look Visa card. There’s a big job ahead of us changing millions of Visa stickers on shop windows and counters not to mention the ATMs, websites, sporting events and everywhere else you see the Visa logo,” says Mr Jamieson.

Visa has a long and successful tradition of sponsoring major sporting events. These global and local sponsorships have played a crucial role in building the strength of the Visa brand over a relatively short time. Kiwis will see the new Visa brand at the 2006 Torino Winter Olympic Games, 2006 Commonwealth Games, 2007 Rugby World Cup and 2008 Beijing Olympics.

In order to pre-empt any cardholder confusion regarding the new look to their card, Visa has also developed cardholder and merchant education packs for the member banks to distribute as they see fit.

This year marks Visa’s 30th anniversary since its inception from BankAmericard in 1976, a year when ABBA’s Dancing Queen topped the charts, TV arrived in South Africa, filming on Star Wars commenced and little known computer company Apple was founded - a poignant reminder that in just three decades the name Visa has become one of the most trusted and recognisable brands anywhere in the world.

Not dissimilar to the rebranding exercise faced today, changing names from BankAmericard to Visa three decades ago was a colossal worldwide task, among the most complicated trademark conversions ever undertaken and that was before the Internet and ATMs.

Visa – history behind the name

The Visa name was created by an unknown BankAmericard employee after the CEO at the time, Dee Hock, invited his entire staff to submit suggestions with $US50 to be awarded to the best one.
Mr Hock’s brief to his staff was that the new name needed to be: “Short, graphic and capable of instant recognition. It must be easily pronounceable in any language and be capable of worldwide trademark protection for the exchange of value and all related connotations. It must have no restrictive connotations (geography, institution, service or form) and needs to have implications of mobility, acceptance and travel”.

A short time later the name Visa was suggested and the brand was born. With a valid visa in your passport you can travel to almost any country in the world so why not have a financial tool that gives you similar sort of access and freedom? As it turns out Mr Hock gave everyone at Visa a cheque for $US50 as no one could recall who originally came up with the name!

The original slogan that accompanied the brand was “Think of it as money” which then became “More than money” – ironically where Visa is heading today, 30 years later.

BankDirect was the first bank in New Zealand to issue credit cards showing the new Visa brand - a low interest black Visa card launched in December.


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