THE Co-operative Bank's transformation from a "dowdy, anachronistic curiosity" in the early 1990's to a firmly established 21st century "cool icon brand" has been saluted by two of the marketing professionals involved in reinventing the organisation as Britain's best known ethical bank.
In a new business book, Creating Passionbrands – getting to the heart of branding, authors Derek Day and Helen Edwards say that by rediscovering and reinterpreting its long-suppressed beliefs, the Bank has "become an absolute textbook case of how a brand can seize what it has at the core and apply discipline, imagination, courage and zeal to make it active and relevant" in modern society.
Both Edwards and Day worked on the advertising campaign that followed the "leap of faith" decision taken by former Chief Executive Terry Thomas and then Marketing Director Simon Williams to make something of the Bank's – and the Movement's – ethical traditions in the early 90s.
Day, who was Creative Director and joint owner of the PartnersBDDH advertising agency, worked on the Bank's advertising for over ten years, while Edwards was also involved for part of this time.
The pair recall that, following consumer research into the Co-op Bank which identified its image as "old fashioned, working-class, associated with leftie political tendencies and ‘not really a proper bank", Thomas, Williams and others set about isolating and identifying the ‘co-operative difference' and establishing the Bank as an organisation with something important to say about modern life.
Says the book: "That ‘something' had been there all along – it just needed a smart and courageous team to give it clarity, substance and meaning for the new consumer and to make it active throughout the business.
"The reward for them and the bank has been the growth in retail customer deposits from £ 1 billion in 1993 to £ 6 billion ten years on. What a way to end the last century!"
• Creating Passionbrands is published by Kogan Page and is available from all good book stores, priced £ 25. For further details visit