Not all logos are brand new

Thoughts from the Birdbox

I have thinking a lot about branding over the last few months as I worked to develop a brief for my own new business. I wanted a name that reflected my interests and acted as an umbrella for several types of communications services.

As a marketer, my interest in brands has a long history. I was lucky enough to spend two weeks at Ashridge on its brand management development programme in 2003. I spent nearly a year as acting Head of Brand for Royal Mail and worked to help implement the Royal Mail Group brand after its retraction of the unpopular Consignia.

There are many brands that reflect on their heritage and return to their roots, sometimes after many years. The passion for all things retro has contributed to a resurgence in brands such as Polaroid, and the use of vinyl in the music industry.

This year, Heinz is celebrating 50 years since it first used the slogan ‘Beanz Meanz Heinz’ with a range of catchy alternatives.

One of the most striking brand revivals of the last few years has been the Co-op’s return to its 1968 clover leaf design.

A brand tainted by association with the crisis in its banking operation, the Co-op is now looking towards a revival in its fortunes. The design team at agency North refreshed the typeface and colours of the original logo in a bid to reinforce the iconic status of the brand.

The change plays to several key strengths within the organisation, chiming with the rules set out by Al and Laura Ries in their book, ‘The Immutable Laws of Branding’.

The ‘new’ Co-op brand conforms to the Law of Shape, fitting easily into a single gaze, with a highly legible sans serif typeface and good colour contrast so that it can spotted from a distance.

As the sixth largest UK grocer, with nearly 3,000 outlets, the Co-op faces stiff competition from the Big 4 (Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrison’s) and has now been overtaken by Aldi in the rankings. This level of competition calls for a stand-out claim and in returning to an earlier brand style, the Co-op shows its understanding of the Law of Leadership.

Inherent in the Co-op brand is its long-standing commitment to sustainability. It was a pioneer in its support for Fairtrade and led the way on the traffic light system of food labelling. By returning to an iconic brand style, the Cop-op is reminding existing customers, and teaching new ones, about its leadership in an area which is now swamped with ‘me-too’ claims.

The Co-op continues to raise money for charitable causes and makes a significant contribution within local communities, living the values that underpin the brand in a way that emphasises its understanding of the Law of Credentials.

The original 1968 logo was part of my childhood and its familiarity will no doubt have strong appeal to consumers who remember it the first time around. But its ability to survive in the cut-throat supermarket world will depend on its ability to continue delivering consistently against the promises behind the logo.

Share this blog