Across the Board

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Fresh face of a credit card – Visa redesigns Chase Sapphire

Chase Sapphire PreferredRecently, the owners of the Chase Sapphire Credit Cards (signed by Visa) might have been surprised, finding their new card looking slightly different than they were used to. The 16-digit number, the expiration date and Visa logo were moved to the other side, leaving just the name of the cardholder and the bank on the front.

Redesign is not an easy thing to do. If done carelessly, it may prove hazardous. One may recollect a recent redesign of the Pepsi logo – not received well by the general public. Some concepts and designs are so deeply rooted in people’s minds that even a slight change seems odd and takes quite a long time to get used to. The truth is that there should be a really good reason behind the redesign. It can be done to refresh the brand or to appeal to new markets. It may be done to differentiate oneself from the competition, to enhance usability… Or to stress a unique feature of a new product.

AmEx ClearSuch was the case with American Express and their transparent card, launched in 2005. The card, named “The Clear”, is almost entirely translucent, with color illustration placed in the middle. The design was to reflect the advertising slogan: first credit card with no fees. The concept might have been revolutionary six years ago, but today the “no fee” card is just one of many. Still, the metaphor of clarity is visible to the user… The extraordinary design catches the eye and makes the card stand out, even if the offer does not.

The reason behind the Visa card redesign was slightly different. It was not to refresh the brand, or to appeal to younger audiences. “In an effort to help our financial institutions pursue options to maximize their branding opportunity on Visa cards, while maintaining the authenticity and integrity of the Visa brand, we are evaluating refinements that allow for the alternative placement of account information and security elements through limited market programs,” said a Visa spokesperson (quoted after MainStreet). In lay terminology, the card was redesigned in order to make more space on its front for the bank’s logo.

Naturally, Chase Card Services presents a bit different version. Laura Rossi, the director of public relations gives hints that the change may improve the security. I may be a bit wary but the fact that all the vital data (sans the name of the cardholder) are located in close proximity on one side of the card seems more like the opposite of security. If we flip the card the wrong way, we are giving more details needed for a card fraud than with a regular card… On the other hand, we are never giving away ALL the details.

Currently, Visa redesigns only a selected number of its cards, probably waiting for the market’s reaction. Who knows, maybe other credit card companies will follow in its footsteps… Perhaps, if the new design catches on, our credit cards will lose the visible numbers completely for the sake of… an advertising space? Imagine your credit card as a tiny screen, or e-paper, showing advertisements from your bank – or anyone who is willing to pay for the space. What do you think? What is the future of the credit card design? Or maybe there is none, as credit cards are becoming obsolete?

P.S. Customized cards deserve a special mention. These are cards on which one can post their own picture, or – most likely – a picture of their child, pet or a car :)

Ania is interested in all things design, as well as popular literature and film. She writes about the pretty side of credit cards and e-business. She's also responsible for some neat infographics and spends her free time writing short fantasy stories. An avid reader of graphic novels, she tries in vain to finish one herself. Has a credit card and is not afraid of using it online. Owner of a rather wicked sense of humor.

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