The Co-operative brand

The Co-operative brand
Co-operative Brands Limited
The Co-operative
Co-operative Bank Oxford branch.jpg
Type Consumer co-operatives
Owner The Co-operative Group
Introduced 2008
Related brands Co-op cloverleaf (below)
Markets United Kingdom and Crown dependencies

The Co-operative is a common branding used by a variety of co-operatives based in the United Kingdom.

Many in the UK mistakenly consider the Co-op to be a single national business, however each Co-operative is actually a franchise selling branded goods produced by the Co-operative Group[1] (The Co-op group being the largest consumer co-operative in the world and so the biggest user of the Co-operative brand rolling out the uniform brand to all of its 4,500 trading outlets across the country).[2] However, each of the individual and independent retail societies in the UK trade as "the Co-op",[3] and many use the common branding, such as the Midcounties Co-operative and Scotmid.[4]

Former Alldays stores were rebranded as 'The Co-operative' convenience stores run by independent franchises, they are not run by the same franchises which form, for instance, 'The Co-operative Funeral Care' or 'Co-operative Bank' although they all use common and familiar branding and are all ultimately administered by the Co-op Group. By default they are loosely therefore all part of the same umbrella or symbol organisation but have no direct connections with each other.

Most co-operative societies have businesses in many different areas; however, the largest areas of the businesses are in foodstores, particularly convenience stores, thus the largest and most visible use of the branding is as The Co-operative Food.

As of 2008, societies which have yet to rebrand, such as the Heart of England Co-operative Society, use the 1993 cloverleaf logo.



Cloverleaf brand

Following the early success of the Rochdale Pioneers, co-operative shops were established across the UK and soon began taking customers away from private traders: these traders responded by making it increasingly difficult for co-operatives to source quality goods to sell to their members.[5][citation needed] The solution was for several co-operative retailers to come together in 1863 and form the Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS): the organisation (now the Co-operative Group) was responsible for sourcing and producing goods for sale in its members' shops, and also for a unified marketing and branding for the societies. It carried out this role for CWS members for nearly 100 years, and in 1968 launched "Operation Facelift" which resulted in the first ever national Co-op logo.[6]

The "cloverleaf" logo became a very well recognised symbol for co-operatives, playing its part in creating the impression that they were a single organisation rather than a number of independent organisations sharing common principles.[4] The brand was strengthened further by the creation of the Co-operative Retail Trading Group (CRTG) in 1993, providing Co-op branded own-brand products (as well as other food supplies) to its members for sale in their stores: by 2002, the CRTG provided 100% of the food supplies sold by UK consumer co-operatives.[7] However, over time, the brand became tarnished by inconsistent customer delivery from one shop to another and the image perceptions of the cloverleaf logo were irreparably damaged: in market research carried out in the early 2000s, there was a consistent decline in consumer ratings of "the Co-op"'s effectiveness when asked about the "Co-operative", to the "Co-op" and finally when shown the existing logo[4] from 2009.

“The Co-operative” brand

Neue Helvetica logotype, introduced in April 2007.

At the same time, the Co-operative Movement called on the Prime Minister to establish a Co-operative Commission to consider ways to ensure the survival of the co-operative model into the twenty-first century: the Commission, chaired by John Monks, published its conclusions in January 2001 and made a series of recommendations regarding co-operative branding. Most important of these recommendations were that a Co-operative Brand Panel representing all sections of the Movement should be established to monitor and maintain the positive image of the Co-operative brand, and that this panel should consider the "cloverleaf" logo's future.[8]

On behalf of the movement, the Co-operative Group's designers and marketers collaborated with Harry Pearce and John McConnell of the designers' co-operative Pentagram, to develop a new visual identity to represent “The Co-operative”. The selected artwork was based on a sans serif bold lower case (Neue Helvetica) logotype of the wording, with different colours representing different businesses, and won a silver award from the Design Business Association. The brand was trialled between 2005 and 2007, at several outlets of the Co-operative Group, Scotmid, United Co-operatives and Midcounties Co-operative. A 2007 pilot programme of 115 shops saw sales up 15 per cent, beating the concurrent 4.6 per cent increase at stores that still used the 1993 cloverleaf. The brand was introduced to food packaging in 2007, and officially launched in 2008, then used in national advertising as well as a national programme of store refits.[3][9][10]

Somerfield becomes The Co-operative Food

On 2 March 2009, The Co-operative Group successfully purchased Somerfield Stores Ltd for £1.56 billion following regulatory approval. It was announced that the stores not sold as part of the conditions of the sale would be rebranded under The Co-operative Food name.[11] The number of stores owned by Co-operative Group rose to 3,000 following the purchase and led to the group's share of the UK supermarket sector rising from 4.5% to 8% and to pre-tax profits for the six months to July 2009 rising by 17% to £229 million.[12]


  1. ^ Co-op Online,, retrieved 19 November 2007 
  2. ^ The Co-operative Group, Welcome to the corporate section of our website,, retrieved 19 November 2007 
  3. ^ a b DBA, The Co-operative Brand Identity,, retrieved 19 November 2007 
  4. ^ a b c Charnock, Catherine (15 June 2006), Marketing The Co-operative Advantage,, retrieved 22 September 2010 
  5. ^ Lincolnshire Co-operative LTD - 1864,, retrieved 18 June 2008 
  6. ^ UK Co-op Milestones, Co-op Online,, retrieved 2008-05-13 
  7. ^ CRTG website, 2007,, retrieved 19 November 2007 
  8. ^ The Co-operative Commission, Chapter 2 – Successful Co-operative Business in the Twenty-first Century, archived from the original on 25 Oct 2007,, retrieved 20 November 2007 
  9. ^ New at Pentagram: Harry Pearce to Judge Prison Art, Pentagram (design studio), 2007-08-02,, retrieved 2008-05-21, "Pearce, who has also been ... working on a new brand identity for The Co-operative Group" 
  10. ^ The Co-operative group’s rebrand launched today, How-Do, North West Media News, 2008-04-07,, retrieved 2008-05-21 
  11. ^ Chris Barry (2008-07-17), Co-op's success swoop - Manchester Evening News, Manchester Evening News,, retrieved 2008-07-17 
  12. ^ Smale, Will (11 December 2009). "Co-op supermarket chain enjoys Somerfield boost". BBC News. Retrieved 13 December 2009. 

External links

  • The Co-operative Food – customer website for the Co-operative Group's food operation
  • CRTG – trade website of the Co-operative Retail Trading Group

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