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The Co-operative Marque grows and strengthens

The Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade argues that greater visibility for the co-operative model will lead to more awareness of the benefits of choosing co-op products and services over their alternatives. In order to achieve this greater visibility, and under the guidance of the International Co-operative Alliance’s Communications Committee, in January 2013 a brief was issued to 29 worldwide branding and design agencies to develop a new global visual identity for cooperatives.

Capable of almost unlimited application, contemporary and businesslike and fit for cross-border use, the new identity was set to replace the rainbow flag and the logo of the Alliance.

Designed by British worker cooperative Calverts, with research support from the Barcelona and Buenos Aires-based Guerrini Island Design, and signature images produced by BrandOutLoud from The Hague, the new identity was guided by survey feedback from over 1,000 respondents in 86 countries. The global Co-operative Marque, with its associated slogan, colour palette, messages, signature images and brand language was launched at the Alliance's Global Conference and General Assembly in Cape Town in November 2013.

The new visual identity includes:

■ The Marque for placing on coops letterheads, emails, website homepages, products and packaging, advertising and promotions. It is available in seven colours (black, blue, emerald green, orange, red, spring green and turquoise)

■ A Slogan "co-operative enterprises build a better world" which can be used alongside the Marque

■ A range of co-operative messages that can be used in place of the Slogan. There are also instructions on how to create a personalized slogan

■ A set of seven signature images which symbolise the cooperative values and principles. Each image contains a representation of the interlocking 'o's from the Marque, these are: Cityscape, Farming, Festival, Football, Formation, Living and Seascape.

By using the new visual identity in their online and offline communications co-operatives can help make people aware of their options when faced with the choice between a co-operative or an investor or privately-owned business.

The Alliance aim is for the cooperative identity to become one of the best known ethical marques in the world by 2020 with users in 100 countries. In January 2015 the number of successful applicants for the global Co-operative Marque has already exceeded 1,000, reaching out to 91 countries from all over the world.

Co-operative Alternatives, a workers' co-operative located in Belfast, North Ireland, and dedicated to promote the cooperative business model through research, training and advice, was the thousandth successful applicant for the Marque. According to official data from the Alliance, the first month of 2015 ended with a total of 1,006 approved applications. According to these same data, the Alliance region with the largest number of organizations using the Marque is the Americas with 441, followed by Europe with 308, Asia-Pacific with 188 and Africa with 69. Therefore, almost half of the applications (44%) come from countries in our region.

The country with the largest number of organizations using the Marque is the UK with 152 approved applications. The second and third places on the list are occupied by American countries: the United States with 140 and Canada with 90. Among the top 10 there are four other countries in the region: Colombia with 67, Argentina with 32, Brazil with 30 and Mexico with 25 organizations. The number of American countries with at least one organization using the new Cooperative Marque totalizes 25.

About half of the applicant organizations already had a .coop domain name. More than 75% of those that did not have a .coop at the time of applying went on to register one in order to complete their co-operative identity and demonstrate their pride in being a co-op.

All these figures suggest an encouraging start that has long exceeded initial expectations. However, organizations that have incorporated the use of the Marque to express and disseminate our common identity are still very few compared to the universe of those that make up the global cooperative movement. Co-operatives of the Americas encourages member organizations of the Alliance and all cooperatives in our region to adopt the elements of the new visual identity of our movement and, in particular, the Co-operative Marque, as a way to promote and give greater visibility to our distinctive model of business.

Applying is easy - visit www.identity.coop. It should not take more than 5 minutes and the site is available in English, French & Spanish. And if you are a direct or indirect member of the International Co-operative Alliance the process is even quicker.

HOW TO USE THE MARQUE?

The appearance of a new global cooperative Marque raised doubts in some cooperatives regarding their nature and use. The first thing to be clear is that the Marque is not a logo. What is sought is not that co-operatives adopt it as its new corporate logo. The recommendation is that you position the Marque and slogan alongside anyother identity, certification, quality or accreditation marks that you already use - for instance, Fair Trade mark, ISO mark, etc.

The marque is a visual element intended to become the universal symbol of co-operatives, the distinctive of our organizational and business model. The purpose is that the marque reaches the highest possible level of recognition within and outside the movement, transmitting the particular set of principles, values and practices that define cooperatives in all corners of the world. In order to give substance to the initiative is also essential that the marque be used in full compliance with its terms of use, clearly stated in the User Guidelines.

Recently the British cooperative Calverts, responsible for the design of the marque, issued a set of useful and simple tips for getting the most benefit from its use:

■ Appoint a Marque 'champion' in your organization, with responsibility for making sure everyone uses the Marque correctly, consistently and creatively.

■ Keep the Marque style guide handy, and preferably in a shared access folder, so that you and others can easily check that they are using the Marque in the right way. Give a copy to any external designers who are working with the Marque artwork on your behalf.

■ Consider which colour version of the Marque harmonizes best with your own visual identity. Seven colours are available, plus black. Use the Marque at a size which balances well on the page with your own logo.

■ Use .png rather than .jpg versions of the Marque artwork for all screen applications (for instance web pages, email footers, e-newsletters and presentation slides). The .jpg versions can appear 'blotchy'; flat colours work best in .png format.

A slogan and six other 'key messages' are available to download and use as part of the Marque. But you can also create your own slogan, provided it's an 'alignment' rather than a 'selling' message, and you follow the guidelines.

The 'master' artworks from which all the others are made - including your bespoke version - are in .eps (encapsulated postscript) format. You will need the help of a professional designer, or be able to use design software such as Adobe Creative Suite, to work with the .eps files.

HOW CAN YOU HELP TO PROMOTE THE MARQUE?

To achieve the objectives pursued by the new Co-operative Identity is essential that an increasing number of cooperatives adopt it and actively it. If your co-op is already using the marque you still can contribute to the success of the initiative inviting and stimulating other cooperative organizations to join the proposal.

To encourage more organizations to complete their Co-operative Identity Domains.coop have created a downloadable Toolkit which includes, banners, videos and editorial for you to use in your own communications:

■ Editorial and messaging for newsletters and websites.

■ Call to Action from Dame Pauline Green highlighting the importance of a unified cooperative identity

■ A downloadable poster on Cooperative Identity which we are calling '7 Reasons'

■ "How to" video Tutorials

■ Multi-lingual banners linking to identity.coop

■ Templates for presentations and flyers using the Marque

■ Where to get COOP Marque branded merchandise and the cooperative flag icashop.coop

■ Marque Guidelines

GET MORE INFO

If you have any questions about how to use and apply the Marque, or you are not sure that you are eligible to use it, please contact us today at info@aciamericas.coop or global@identity.coop.





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