Barclaycard U.S., which has traditionally hidden its brand behind the star power of its affinity partners, is tiptoeing closer to the spotlight.

The Barclays PLC unit, which specializes in issuing cards for affinity and cobrand partners, including U.S. Airways, Barnes & Noble and L.L. Bean, has long relied on those brands to get the cards into consumers' wallets. But now, after a year of internal development, Barclaycard U.S. is trying to make more consumers aware of its name "in a really subtle way," said Michelle Bottomley, the unit's chief marketing officer.

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