A RADICAL initiative designed to unite and identify various Co-op businesses under a new brand identity – "The co-operative" – has been unveiled by the Co-operative Group and a number of leading independent societies.
More than 40 outlets around the country will bear the new identity as well as featuring a revitalised retail offer, backed by a communications campaign highlighting the Movement's ethical beliefs and achievements.
The pilot outlets operate across a range of retail sectors including food, travel, pharmacy, funerals and banking. For the first time they will be unified by a distinct high street identity – The co-operative – and a marketing campaign will establish their shared values and principles as well as encourage new opportunities for cross-trading.
In the trial areas, the Co-op logo and a number of different trading identities have disappeared to make way for the new branding. They include Co-op Welcome, Travelcare, Co-operative Funeralcare, Co-op Pharmacy, United Co-operative's Late Shop, the existing Co-operative Bank identity, Co-op Travel and Co-operative Funeral Services.
Replacing them is the name "The co-operative" with a one-word descriptor of each business alongside. This has been matched in many cases with a complete interior refit to reflect new design themes and colours.
The marketing campaign backing the pilot branches will bring the co-operative ethos of openness, honesty and social responsibility difference to the fore, emphasising co-operative beliefs and achievements in areas such as the environment, fair trade, community support and food safety, with the strapline, "The co-operative: Where everyone profits".
A consistent approach to offering good customer service and strong product offer is an integral part of the pilot and with the new identity comes a clearly defined set of service and offer standards.
The branding has been developed by a panel comprising representatives from the Co-op Group, United Co-operatives, Co-operative Financial Services, Lothian, Borders and Angus Society, Co-operatives UK, Midlands Co-op, Oxford, Swindon and Gloucester Co-op and Suma Wholefoods.
Five societies – the Co-op Group, United, West Midlands, OSG and Scotmid – have stores involved in the pilot.
Marketing effort is being concentrated on four English towns and cities – Hull, Northampton, Thame and Kidderminster. In addition a new food store in Laurencekirk operated by Scotmid and two United Co-operatives travel branches outside the pilot areas, are being fitted out with the trial brand in order to gauge public reaction.
The first phase of the marketing campaign will run for eight weeks in the pilot areas, at a cost of more than £ 500,000. It will include press and radio advertising, supported by an outdoor campaign, as well as a direct mail to 300,000 customers and a brochure door drop to all households within a three mile radius of the pilot branches.
The project has been a top priority for the Co-operative Group's Marketing Director, Zoe Morgan, who joined the organisation from HBOS in November last year. Her in-house marketing team has worked closely with a group of consultants.
John McConnell, formerly of Pentagram, has acted as design director, Lippapearce has worked on design application and McCann Erickson is handling the advertising campaign.
The trial will begin on September 12th. Trading progress at the pilot stores will be monitored carefully over the next few months and the project will be reviewed early next year.