Driving home from work last night something caught my eye, the Co-operative Group have started to roll out new branding across their stores!

Apologies if this is old news and I’m a little late to the party (I must have missed my invite), but when a company this size takes the brave step of changing their branding it always sets me thinking and asking myself a number of questions;

What’s made them decide it’s time for a re-brand?

Simple answer; Because something important has changed…

First of all, changing your branding is never easy, and the bigger you are the harder it often is. That’s because it’s not a case of simply changing how your logo looks because you feel like doing things a little differently from now on! It takes a HUGE amount of effort, research and planning to get this exactly right, because if you don’t the affects can be disastrous.

The most challenging part of a re-brand for many companies can be recognising and accepting when it’s necessary, because as we all know people don’t like CHANGE. However, more often than not, what will initiate a re-brand is a CHANGE, where something significant either internal or external to the company has altered, resulting in their brand no longer aligning with their strategy.

The most common reasons we’ve experienced in the past include changes in;

  1. Company ownership/leadership
  2. Strategic direction
  3. Target audience
  4. Target audience’s behaviours and beliefs
  5. Core values
  6. Core products
  7. Reputation

Applying the above list to Co-op it would certainly appear that at first glance you can tick off most, if not all of these reasons;

  • There was recently a “radical shake up” of the board, starting right at the top with a new Chairman and CEO (1).
  • There is a distinct change in their business strategy (2), with greater importance placed on growing their membership (6), with the addition of a number of new benefits to retain existing members and attract new ones – in fact they hope to grow this membership by 1 million in the next five years.
  • They anticipate a lot of growth will be gained through targeting the “younger generation” and believe the new logo will help achieve this (3,4).
  • They recently returned to their traditional values (5) of the “co-operative movement,” where community comes before profits.
  • They feel they need to change how they are perceived (7) by the general public.

(Source; The guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/may/21/co-op-hopes-leave-past-behind-classic-60s-look)

Why does the branding look like it does?

Simple answer; Because that’s what their customer research tells them is right!

coop-logo

This re-brand is a very brave move and one that is not often seen put into practice, with the new branding resembling something like what you might have seen walking down the street nearly 50 years ago.

Whilst to many this might seem like an odd decision, it’s safe to say this move will have been very carefully considered with a great deal of time, money and effort exhausted. Extensive research will have been done internally with employees, and perhaps more importantly externally within their existing customer base and their new target audience – believe me this didn’t just happen over a bottle of red wine.

Essentially why the new branding looks like it does all evolves around the most important person to Co-op, or any company for that matter, their customer! In it’s simplest form, they are striving to create an image/perception that will appeal to their target markets, summarised brilliantly by Steve Murrells, chief executive of their food business, in saying the [new] logo will resonate with members that have stuck by the Co-op and with new, younger members. We have been working towards this day.”

Do I like the new branding?

Simple answer; Well it works for me…

coop-rochdale

coop-old-shop

I consider myself lucky enough to be within Co-op’s new “younger generation” target market and I find their use of let’s call them “pastille colours” and greys to be far more appealing and inviting on the shop front than their previous efforts. Combining these colours with the new look typeface and smaller “icon style” logo brings the new branding far more in line with more recent branding/creative design trends.

Combining all of the above with the modernised style of their most recent refurbished stores, it is clear that they are making a conscious effort to drag the company into the “cafe culture of the 21st century” which is refreshing to see.

Will this re-brand achieve it’s objectives?

Simple answer: I think so, but as the saying goes, the proof will be in the pudding…

I have to think that a company of this size will have done everything they can to ensure that it does, and I for one certainly believe they have achieved their first major objective of developing branding that will appeal to both young and old, which is no easy feat.

Their next major challenge will be rolling out this new branding out across all of their “marketing assets,” because branding goes far deeper than a shop front or website (I could write you a massive long list, but instead here’s a picture of some newly branded milk) and for a company this size it’s going to be a painful and costly exercise.

One thing is for sure, if the company continues it’s resurgence, then it is safe to say that this re-brand will have played a massive part. It’s difficult to say how much exactly, but having a strong brand that appeals to your target market, people learn to recognise and trust is an essential part of any successful company, no matter how big or small.

coop-milk-design