Global image for co-operative movement set to take shape

27 Mar 2013

A co-operative design practice is set to build on the momentum of the International Year of Co-operatives by creating a global visual identity for the co-operative brand.

Driven by the International Co-operative Alliance, the new brand will include a logo to be known as the “co-operative marque”, a strapline and imagery. The identity will be something that all co-operatives can align with and which will differentiate them from other forms of business.   

The ICA Board has already agreed to continue to use the UN’s IYC tagline “Co-operative Enterprises Build a Better World” as the strapline for the new global co-operative brand. Co-operatives will be encouraged to adopt the new brand and some may consider becoming fully-fledged sub-brands of the new identity.

At its meeting in Moscow on 26 March, the ICA’s Board gave approval for the ICA and its regional offices and sectoral organisations to become sub-brands of the new visual identity, which will be created by British co-operative design agency Calverts.

Calverts, based in east London and founded as a worker co-operative in 1977, will be leading on the project. The design practice has delivered identities or brand communications, as the first or second line agency, for organisations as diverse as UNICEF, Landmine Action, Société Générale and Muji.

Further research and support will be provided by the Barcelona- and Buenos Aires-based Guerrini Island Design, which has 20 years of experience in international image research.

Sion Whellens, project director of Calverts, said: “For Calverts, this is a great honour, great challenge and great opportunity. The brief places the development of a new global identity marque and key message — ‘Co-operative Enterprises Build a Better World’ — at the top of the brand message tree.  And a new identity for the ICA and its subsidiary brands will flow from it and will also allow other co-operatives to use the brand. This presents special challenges, but we believe this is the appropriate architecture for a diverse social and business movement and its international apex body."

The aim is for the image to become the new co-operative visual identity, which will be an open and transparent process to allow all co-operatives to take part. It is anticipated that the final visual identity will be approved by the ICA Board at its June meeting.  

To achieve this, the ICA will work in an open way, developing online channels and using the opportunity of existing meetings, to engage members across different geographic and cultural settings. The ICA will also work with a number of partners in testing the brand, with a formal launch at the ICA Global Conference and General Assembly in Cape Town in November.

Charles Gould, Director-General of the ICA, said: “The emblem will be used to provide a ‘unity of purpose’ for the global co-operative movement and will be capable of almost unlimited application – contemporary and business-like and fit for cross-border use.  Widespread alignment of the visual identity by the global co-operative community would be actively encouraged in the same way as the IYC logo and tagline were promoted and subsequently adopted.  

“Very soon co-operatives will be receiving a personal invitation to be part of the research which will underpin the development of the new brand. The ICA and Calverts looks forward to working with the global co-operative movement on this exciting project.”

• Those co-operatives who are either members of the ICA or the eDigest mailing list will receive an invitation to take part in the research in early April. A toolkit is being developed to allow other co-operatives to encourage their members to take part in the process. For more information, visit: