Going back to go forward

coop logo in position on an awning

The ‘new’ Co-operative brand by North is something of a revelation. I’d love to have been in the meeting where it was presented (“and your new brand is… your old brand!”).

It’s potentially something of a strategic triumph, reconciling diverse aspects of the Co-op – modern, ethical, Fairtrade; yet familiar, rooted in tradition, the small shop in every rural community. I suspect this division in the brand is mirrored in its audiences too – my observation is that the staff and customers in the local Co-op are often of a certain vintage, and there’s a warmth and chattiness in the experience – often absent from the efficient, self-service ethos of a Sainsburys Local or a Tesco Express.

We have yet to see how the identity will roll out across other aspects of the brand, from finance to funerals. And here again I suspect it may serve to remind audiences of the longevity and familiarity of the brand – not just a brand marked by recent financial troubles and management failures, but one that’s been a mainstay of our lives for years.

In looking back, the Co-op could have returned to its very roots – Victorian Rochdale, the birth of the global co-operative movement. Instead, it’s returned to a past very much in living memory. A more human timeframe that’s fitting for a brand that claims human values at its heart.