Today’s shoppers are faced with a wide array of certified goods – from supermarket brands through to products bought by co-operatives.
While this certification is predominantly used to show either the source of a product, the quality of ingredients or even environmental credentials, all logos/marques have a common identifier. Take, for instance, the COOP Marque.
A set of standards is at the core of every certification – for instance, the seven co-operative principles, which have been with the movement in one form or another since 1844. Based on the Rochdale Pioneers’ principles, today’s principles are, quite rightly, at the heart of every co-operative’s marketing message.
All over the world, the language of corporate social responsibility uses the values of open membership, democracy, a clear ownership structure, independence, a focus on education, working in solidarity with like-minded business and showing a concern for the community. But these are our values – values owned by every single co-operative.
The COOP Marque is the visual identify for co-operatives, which immediately says: “We believe in and adhere to the co-operative principles”. This is a starting point for co-operatives – a conversation starter to tell the story of how you put the seven principles into practice. It is a way to build trust with the consumer who is disenfranchised with the traditional way of doing business.
The International Cooperative Alliance wants, in time, consumers everywhere to recognise the Marque, in a similar fashion to Fairtrade, which is now widely understood by shoppers in many parts of the world.
By telling consumers you are a co-operative, you will be helping to strengthen the notion of co-ops in every industry, in every country. The COOP Marque can point people to a leaflet or part of your website that clearly explains what being a co-operative means for your organisation and why the consumer should care. It can also be used on products – we have recently learned that the Central Tea Cooperative Federation (CTCF) Ltd. Nepal is intending to use the Marque on packets of tea.
The story of the COOP Marque is to educate the public and to enhance the perception of the co-operative sector. By putting principle six – co-operation among co-operatives – into action, co-operatives can be a much stronger force.
• To find out more about the global Co-operative Identity, visit: identity.coop