Culminating an 18-month effort to streamline its product names, Visa International is revising its logo designs to give "Visa" top billing.
Following a board vote in June, Visa will be putting its own name on all debit products - including Interlink, the point-of-sale program that is especially strong in the western United States, and Electron, a debit card used primarily in the Middle East, Europe, and Latin America.
Plus, the global ATM network name, will be dropped in favor of "Visa Interlink."
In addition, all acceptance marks, including Visa Cash, the stored value product for purchases of $20 and under, will get a new graphic look that incorporates the colors of the Visa logo - gold, blue, and white.
"With Visa on these marks and on your debit cards, all debit products now have a common brand - the Visa brand," said Edmund P. Jensen, chief executive of Visa, who addressed some 500 bankers at the association's Latin America regional meeting last week.
"This ensures that we not only have fewer, but stronger acceptance marks."
Visa expects to phase out the Plus logo over the next three to five years.
"Clearly the challenge is for Visa to educate people about Interlink," said Visa spokeswoman Susan Forman.
The reason for dropping Plus, Ms. Forman said, is that consumer research showed that people were confused when "Visa" was added to the mark. Some people thought Visa Plus denoted a better Visa card. The research also showed that Visa Interlink more clearly describes the relationship between the card and the cardholder's checking account.
Initially it is likely that the Plus and Visa Interlink marks will appear together to ensure that consumers see them as synonymous.
Last week Mr. Jensen revealed other findings from Visa's consumer research. He said that people have different views of the Visa three-color flag and the word "Visa" itself. The flag is seen as standing for "functionality and acceptance" while the word mark represents the company. "Therefore, the marketplace gives us permission to expand the word mark, and use it as a linkage device to our products and services," he said.
Like other financial institutions conducting research to learn how they are perceived and how they can capitalize on their image, Visa found that it could enhance its products by simply adding its name to them.
"The more often a company can get its brand name in front of the customer the better," said Elaine Svensson, of Financial Institutions Consulting, New York.
Alan Bergstrom, managing director brand strategy practice of Dove Associates Inc., Boston, called Visa's initiative "a smart move." Visa was "confronted with promoting separate brands, which divided its resources," said Mr. Bergstrom.
Moreover, "having a power brand like Visa levels the playing field for banks against their nonbank competitors with well-known brand names," said Mr. Bergstrom.
Of the products affected by the Visa initiative, Visa Cash is alone in avoiding a name change - it already incorporates Visa in its name. Currently, there are Visa Cash pilots in Australia, Canada, and at at the Olympics in Atlanta Later this year a New York City pilot will be launched.