The 172 year-old organisation is returning to its classic clover-leaf design which first appeared across shops, produce and dividend stamps in the late 1960s.
Announced alongside a series of new membership benefits which will come into place this autumn was the news that seven Co-op shops and three of the brand’s funeral homes will sport the new identity from Monday, as well as some 600 own-brand products. Over 2,000 Co-op stores are expected to have adopted the identity by 2018, with the new design in use across the group by May 2019.
The project has been overseen by the Co-op’s Head of Brand, Helen Carroll, and Group Design Director, Ben Terrett, who along with Mike Bracken, Mat Wall, Russell Davies and Tom Loosemore came to the organisation from the Government Digital Service in 2015.
New-look shop fascia for The Co-op designed by North
North were asked to work on the redesign project in 2014 and, after considering a new identity and researching the company’s visual history, they pitched the idea of reinstating the 1968 logo. Returning to a previous identity is certainly an unusual move for a company, let alone going back to one that is nearly 50 years old.
“It’s a symbol and a wordmark and that’s impossible to beat for a graphic designer. It’s never dated,” says Perkins.
He suggests that the current interest in identity manuals, where reprints of the NYCTA and NASA graphics standards manuals and Unit’s recent Manuals anthology have been successfully funded via Kickstarter, made the studio think about the potential in revisiting a classic design.
The Manchester and Salford branch of the Co-op, c.1969
New-look shop fascia for the Co-op designed by North. Image: North
The Co-op’s most recent identity was designed by Pentagram in 2007 and made use of the organisation’s expanded name: ‘The co-operative’ – with ‘food’, ‘funeralcare’ ‘bank’ and so on added as a suffix. (The banking arm of the business, which is now only 20% owned by The Co-op Group, will retain this name and branding going forward.)
But Perkins believes that the company already had a “trust mark, a passion brand, a timeless classic” in the form of its original clover-leaf logo, designed, he understands, by an American studio. The mark itself was updated in 1993 incorporating rounder counters and a baseline bar.
“When the first one was created in 1968, it was designed to bring the businesses together under one identity,” he says. “And it was originally drawn by hand. We created some geometry for it and presented it to the board in 2014.