Co-op campaign – the importance of a stable brand identity

by Stratton Craig

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When corporations go through periods of upheaval they often choose to make changes to their marketing strategies. Movember recently unveiled the ‘Generation Mo’ rebrand, targeting younger generations to widen the appeal of their charity initiative. The Co-operative Bank is seeking to reassure customers that, in spite of changes to its ownership, it remains the UK’s ‘ethical’ bank.
A significant proportion of the Co-operative Bank’s customers value its ethical investment practices, and numbers swelled following the financial crisis. However, in the face of a huge hole in its finances, 70% of the Co-op will soon be owned by a collection of hedge funds, a change that could unnerve its customer base.
To maintain the Co-operative Bank’s reputation as an ethical leader in the UK’s banking sector, the Co-operative Group paid for full-page adverts in newspapers on November 4th. The adverts read: ‘Ethical banking has always been in our DNA. Now, it’s in our constitution,’ referring to a legally binding ethical code of conduct, which has been added to the Bank’s constitution.
It remains to be seen whether the Co-op can convince disillusioned customers, but if the Group is to be successful it’ll have to keep its wider communications as on-brand as the adverts. The website for Co-operative Bank currently has a blue and green colour scheme – neutral colours that lend themselves to an ‘ethical’ position. And the written communications focus on inclusivity and establishing trust – on the website you can learn about ‘Your Money’, ‘Your Co-operative’ and ‘Your Community’.
We think that Co-op’s continued success depends hugely on its ability to keep this tone of voice consistent. It’s right that the company’s pushing its ethical credentials, at a time when people will be questioning them, and the niche that Co-op has carved out for itself in the banking sector is one of its most valuable assets.

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