Jim Pettipher, Development Director at Co-operative Futures, told delegates that social values in the Movement are "brilliant", but other companies such as Tesco, or even BP, could claim they have such values and distort the co-operative message.
Mr Pettipher said co-operatives are already recognised as a cause for good through the work of the Co-operative Group, which has influenced many surveys such as GfK NOP Ethical Branding survey, by associating the word co-operative with an ethical stance.
He said: “The public know our Co-op identity and they like it. They like co-operatives, so blow your own trumpet.”
Drawing on the examples of the Fairtrade Mark and the Organic Soil Association logo, Mr Pettipher suggested more thought should be put into creating a unified social brand for co-operatives that the public can immediately associate with the Movement’s values.
He said the internet domain name dotCoop could be part of that brand. A proposal has already been sent to the dotCoop board in Washington DC, USA, to suggest a joint branding initiative using the domain name, which is still being considered.
Although, before a more comprehensive brand is created, the session was presented with top tips to take advantage of the co-operative brand:
• Identify yourself as a co-operative
• Live the seven values and principles of a co-operative
• Use co-operative in your name
• Register a dotCoop domain name.
At the workshop, John Atherton, Worker Co-operative Development Officer at Co-operatives UK, added that co-operatives could enhance their identify by displaying a "Member of Co-operatives UK" on its websites and other promotional literature.