The Co-op rebrand: Look backwards to move forwards

When the Co-op needed to rebrand, they took a look backwards to move forwards. As part of the Co-op rebrand the decision was made to change the logo – but it wasn’t exactly a new logo. It was first unveiled in 1968.

The reason the Co-op needed to rebrand

The decision to rebrand the Co-op was triggered by a series of events that undermined the public’s confidence in the organisation. The Co-operative Group provides banking, insurance and funeral services, in addition to its food shops, and it was the Co-op bank that was at the heart of the problem. In 2013 it was revealed that there was a £1.5bn hole in the bank’s accounts. Following that, the chairman of the bank, Paul Flowers, was caught up in a personal scandal and left in disgrace. Customer confidence in the Co-op plummeted. The organisation was on the verge of collapse. They needed to change the public perception of the business.

What the Co-op changed

Major change was needed to improve the group’s tarnished image. New leadership was introduced, the business was restructured and the decision was made to rebrand. As we’ve said, the logo wasn’t new, but it is familiar. As an organisation with a long history (the Co-op can trace its routes back to 1844), they chose to use that to their advantage. Part of that was adopting a visual identity that customers (and potential customers) would recognise. But as part of the Co-op rebrand, they also looked back to the purpose at the heart of the organisation.

As a co-operative the Co-op Group’s business model differentiates them from competitors. In a very competitive market this provides an opportunity for them to stand out. A co-operative shares profits with its members, rather than with business owners or share holders. The Co-op put a revitalised membership scheme at the centre of the rebrand, offering a 5% reward on all purchases of Co-op own-brand products, in addition to the annual dividend. Members also receive a 1% reward to donate to a local charity. While other supermarkets support community projects, the Co-op made that fundamental to the way it does business.

The benefit of rebranding

The Co-op rebrand has seen the organisation refocus around the purpose that the business has been built on for over 100 years. To reflect that change a new identity has been introduced that takes customers back – not a hundred years – but to a familiar point in their lives. The impact of this rebrand has been positive. In 2017 the Co-op group returned to profit and members received £61m in rewards, with £13m going to community projects. Membership has risen by 1.2 million too, evidence that the Co-op’s point of difference – their business model – is attractive to consumers. There is still work to do. Steve Murrells, Co-op CEO, recognises that the Co-op ‘difference’ isn’t getting through. But the Co-op rebrand has had a significant impact in rebuilding consumer confidence.

If you’d like to have a chat about rebranding your business, drop us an email. If you’d like to know more about rebranding, you can also find some information here.


Photo: Flickr – Can Pac Swire © Creative Commons