Visa brand strategy / positioning case study

BrandStruck
Visa Brand Strategy Analysis
Visa
ABOUT

Category:
Financial servicespayment solutions

Owner of the brand:
Visa Inc.

Key competitors:
American Express, Mastercard, Discover, PayPal

Brand essence

Unlocking opportunities for everyone, everywhere.

Brand values

Trust, accessibility, ubiquity, inclusiveness.

Brand character

Inclusive, human, positive, friendly, for everybody, global.

EVIDENCE
Comments
1

Visa started out as Americard, a Bank of America project. It was soft-launched in 1958 in Fresno, a small, quiet and isolated Californian town. Bank of America sent the Fresno residents 60,000 unsolicited credit cards in a single day. This operation was called a “Fresno drop” and proved to be Visa’s first big success.[1]
The brand, similarly to Mastercard, often stresses out that it is not a bank (it does not sell any bank-related services and does not issue credit cards), trying to avoid negative connotations with the financial services category. Instead, Visa positions itself as a global payments technology company on a mission “to connect the world through the most innovative, reliable and secure payment network”[2].

2

Visa’s brand strategy has been the same for many years – it’s based on trust, accessibility and its ubiquitous character. Some minor changes were introduced in 2014 and 2021. In 2014, the company announced a logo refresh and new positioning, which to a big extent was rooted in the original company’s mission from the late 1950s. While Mastercard’s brand purpose is to build “a world beyond cash”, Visa aspired “to be the best way to pay and be paid”. The new elements of the positioning referred to Visa’s ubiquity and accessibility – “for everyone, everywhere”. This strategy was translated into a global tagline: “Everywhere you want to be”, which had been used by the company in the U.S. in the 1990s and early 2000s in a slightly different form (“It’s Everywhere You Want To Be”[3]). The company executives commented on the changes: “Thirty years ago, ‘Everywhere’ was a restaurant in the United States. Today, thanks to advances in mobile and high-speed Internet, ‘Everywhere’ is a mobile money system in Rwanda, an e-commerce merchant in California or a government prepaid card system in Brazil.”[4]

3

In 2021, Visa refreshed its visual identity and launched a new campaign, “Meet Visa”. The branding revamp was the most noticeable change – the shape of the Visa logo stayed the same but the brand colours were of a brighter hue “for digital impact”[5]. The new campaign was based on the same brand strategy as so far and used the same tagline (“Everywhere you want to be”). Its main objective was to strengthen the message that Visa is more than just a credit card company and position it as “the most innovative, reliable and secure payment network – enabling individuals, businesses and economies to thrive”[6]. Lynne Biggar, Visa CMO, commented: “People think they ‘know’ Visa. Consumers and businesses trust the power of those four letters and see it when they open their wallet, pay a vendor, walk into a store or check out online. What they don’t see is how those four letters operate the most dynamic network of people, partnerships and products. We are on a mission to ensure that Visa is seen as more than a credit card company and understood as a trusted network that drives commerce forward.”[7]

4

The brand strategy built around the concept of “everywhere, for everyone” is executed by Visa in two ways – each typical of a different brand archetype. The first approach, characteristic of Regular Guy brands and more apparent in the company’s communication, accentuates how Visa can be used by everyone, everywhere, even in the tiniest stores and via a range of digital applications. The other approach is more representative of Explorer brands and it constitutes a more metaphorical interpretation of “everywhere”: “Everywhere isn’t just a place. It can be the journey. It could be the destination. But it’s always a new state of mind.”[8] It is supported by some of the brand’s communication activities encouraging people to explore the world (e.g., “Leave the city for brighter lights”[9], “Feel the Windy City’s summer breeze”[10]).

5

Visa’s communication is focused on the functional benefits, e.g., simplicity of its products. Usually, the brand expresses itself in a humorous, positive and down-to-earth tone of voice. However, sometimes it gets more serious, conveys more elevated massages of inclusiveness or perseverance and uses a loftier tonality (e.g., “Rio 2016 Olympic Games: The Heart”[11]). A large part of Visa’s communication centres around the sports events the company sponsors; for example, the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games. Visa is, in fact, the longest-running sponsor of the Olympics, supporting the event since 1986 as well as the Paralympics since 2002.

6

Dominant colours: blue and gold (yellow).

Tagline
Most important campaigns

1. “Meet Visa” (2021)

2. “What Does Visa Do?” (2020)

3. “FIFA World Cup 2018 | Zlatan Ibrahimović” (2018)

4. “Million Yard Line” (2017)

5. “Rio 2016 Olympic Games: The Heart” (2016)

6. “Fell Faster Flow Faster” (2013)

 

Official brand statement:

Unlocking opportunities for everyone
We’re a trusted network and world leader in digital payments, with a mission to remove barriers and connect more people to the global economy. Because we believe that economies that include everyone, everywhere uplift everyone, everywhere.[12]

Interesting facts:

Visa’s colours: blue and yellow (gold) are supposed to represent the blue sky and gold-coloured hills of California, where Bank of America and Visa were founded.[13]

Must-reads

1. The Drum on Visa’s new positioning and visual identity refresh
J. Glenday, “Visa Rebrand Leverages 60 Years Of Equity And Prepares For Cashless Society”, The Drum, Jul 2021,
https://www.thedrum.com/news/2021/07/21/visa-rebrand-leverages-60-years-equity-and-prepares-cashless-society 

2. Campaign on the “#WhereYouShopMatters” brand activation
S. Hastings, “Visa Makes Successful Bid To Be ‘Champion Of Local Shops’”, Campaign, Jan 2020,
https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/visa-makes-successful-bid-champion-local-shops/1670760

3. Interview with Mary Ann Reilly, SVP of Marketing at Visa North America
G. Abramovich, “
Visa’s Talking With Millennial Women. Here’s What They’re Saying”, CMO, Aug 2018,
https://www.cmo.com/interviews/articles/2018/8/10/why-and-how-visas-talking-to-millennial-women.html#gs.urXwu5g  

4. Visa’s press release on the new positioning and tagline
C. Scharf, “Visa’s New Corporate Positioning”, Visa Corporate Tumblr, Dec 2014,
http://visacorporate.tumblr.com/post/75911299062/visas-new-corporate-positioning

Sources:
SIMILAR BRANDS

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