How can co-ops communicate their identity through their branding?

'The more co-operatives promote their co-operative identity, the stronger their brand impact will be'

We speak to Violetta Nafpaktiti, the managing director of DotCoop LLC, which provides the .coop domain and Coop Marque to thousands of co-operatives around the world. 

What role do you see for the marque in expressing and promoting the co-op identity?

The Coop Marque was created exclusively for co-operatives, to show unity across co-operatives. The marque and the .coop internet domain are valuable brand assets for co-operatives of all shapes and sizes, from every part of the world. 

 

To what extent has that been achieved? How many co-ops use the marque and the .coop domain? 

There are over 3,500 registrations of the marque today. There are over 8,500 .coop domain names registered by co-operatives in over 100 countries. The marque is available free of charge, through a .coop domain name registration, and the opportunity is large for the existing and future .coop domain name users to take advantage of the marque’s ability to visually distinguish an organisation.

Should co-ops use it as an extra certification or as their main logo?

Either. There are restrictions for adopting the marque within a logo or using it in general, and each registered user receives the terms and conditions as well as a set of guidelines for appropriate use. Many co-ops have created their unique logo reflecting their brand, and have added the marque as a supporting logo, visually representing their status as a co-operative. Each co-op is a business in a highly competitive environment, that wants to stand out and attract more customers; while using the marque within their primary logo may be useful for some co-ops, for the rest using the marque as a stamp or a badge of belonging to a worldwide co-operative movement is optimal. 

Are co-ops using the marque in innovative ways?

There are many examples of pioneering co-operatives embracing the marque as a global co-operative brand mechanism, or that have adopted it as their main logo. We wouldn’t want to distinguish among our wonderful supporters and customers around the world. However, we showcase all our users at identity.coop/stories/ or you can explore our global directory at directory.coop 

Can the marque and .coop domain give co-ops a competitive edge?

Co-operatives are trusted and favoured businesses and organisations. Being known as a co-operative immediately distinguishes them among the many privately-owned organisations competing for the same business. The marque and the .coop domain provide the recognition as a co-operative, immediately elevating the value of that organisation. 

How was the World Cooperative Congress for you as rapporteur (on a session on branding)? How should co-ops measure the impact of their branding?

Congress was a brilliant experience. Especially after two years of successive lockdowns, having the opportunity to be in the same space with co-operators from every corner of the world, to listen to their stories and challenges and to learn from them, was a truly inspiring opportunity. In the session Examining the co-operative identity through a strong co-operative brand, we saw examples from a diverse group of co-operatives and associations of co-ops, using .coop and the marque in building strong brands. Every business, co-operative or not, will have its own metrics for measuring their brand impact – usually linked to key performance indicators. 

However, since all co-ops share a common and universal co-operative identity, they can effectively use the seven co-operative principles and values as metrics for brand management. For example, membership growth and also member engagement can be ways for a co-op to measure their brand impact over time – metrics that wouldn’t be available to a privately owned business. Co-ops are businesses that put people, its members and customers, first. Successful brands are those whose missions are recognised and advocated by their own customers and stakeholders. Therefore, the more co-operatives promote their co-operative identity and show their difference as businesses with values and principles, the stronger their brand impact will be. The simplest and most effective way to communicate their co-operative identity would be by using the marque and the .coop domain.

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