The Co-Operative Group – Brand Repositioning

The Co-Operative Group (Co-Op) is the UK’s largest mutually-owned business. In such a ‘mutual’ business, the owners of the Co-Op are not shareholders, but consumers and the general public, who can opt to become a member of the company and participate in decision-making.  The Co-Op group has brand-extensions into a wide range of services, including groceries, funeral care, travel, banking and even more.  Having said that – until now – the Co-Op’s strap-line has been ‘Good with food’; this seems rather narrow given the diversity of the firm.

Hence, it is, to an extent, no surprise that the Co-Op has updated their strap-line to reflect the firm’s diversification into wider consumer services.  Unveiled in their new Christmas campaign, the new strap-line is: ‘Here for you for life’.

Unfortunately for the Co-Op, this change has received a mixed-reaction among marketers.  However, this is often the case when any firm changes its logo, strap-line and almost any part of its brand-identity.

Click here, or on the image below to view one of the 20+ Co-Op Christmas TV advertisements.

Given the extent of the Co-Op’s diversification, I do feel the old strap-line – ‘Good with food’ – does not help create a strong corporate brand across the Co-Op’s full-range of services.  Furthermore, as the Co-Op continues to expand with a takeover of 600 Lloyd’s TSB bank branches, the old strap-line is only going to become even more ill-fitting of the mutual group.

Gill Bar, Co-Op’s Chief Marketing Officer, has told Marketing Week that ‘one of the objectives of our advertising is to make the links between the businesses more clear’. Thus, the old strap-line is clearly not in-line with the firm’s wider marketing strategy.

But – and this is a big but – although the old strap-line does not make the links clear between the Co-Op’s businesses, neither does the new strap-line!

Albeit this is down to personal opinion, the new strap-line – ‘Here for you for life’ sounds generic and dull.  Despite having read around this topic a lot, I am constantly having to remind myself what the new strap-line is.

It seems that the Co-Op have gone from a strap-line that is too specific to a new strap-line that is too general.

What I would have suggested to the Co-Op is to have an individual strap-line for each sub-brand that is centered around the  ‘Good with..’ message.  For example:

  • Good with insurance
  • Good with banking
  • Good with funeral care

I believe this would be more memorable and specific than ‘Here for you for life’, while still general  enough to allow the Co-Op to continue to diversify.  But ultimately, my suggestion clearly strengthens the links between the various sub-brands – it may also help consumers identify them as belonging to the Co-Op. And isn’t that what the chief marketing officer is trying to achieve?

The downside of my suggestion is that it is not consumer-focused, which other writers feel is important to build upon to leverage the Co-Op’s strengths as an ethical brand.

Sources and further reading:
Marketing Week – News

Marketing Magazine

The Grocer

Retail Gazette

The Guardian

Marketing Week – Opinion

© Josh Blatchford, author of Manifested Marketing, 05/10/2012

  • Join 198 other followers

  • Blog Visits

  • Twitter Updates

    Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

  • Archive

%d bloggers like this: