Putting the super back into the supermarkets: What the Co-op rebrand tells us about the current state of the sector

John-Paul Hunter
The Co-op launched a rebrand last week (Source: Co-op)

The unveiling of the Co-op rebrand last week was the latest sign of a major shift in the supermarket arena.

The brand’s decision to revert back to its origins, resurrecting - albeit also modernising - its 1968 logo, was a clear attempt to spark an emotional connection with an audience for whom loyalty is meaning less and less.

Branding and design enable businesses to encapsulate and express their values in a visual and tangible way.

The Co-op’s new look is a clear message that the brand is focused on its original mission to provide customers with value and choice in a crowded sector. It’s also a clever nod to the fact that despite expanding its name to “co-operative” in recent years, to its consumers, the Co-op has always remained the Co-op.

The needs of the customer

Going back to the brand’s “barcall” name is a clear acknowledgement that the needs of the customer are the driving force for this re-brand.

This effort to re-engage with its audience is no surprise, given the rapidly changing competitive environment the Co-op sits in.

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With the rise of discounter brands such as Aldi and Lidl continuing at a consistent rate, even the big four (Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons) are feeling the pressure to innovate and compete to stay in the game.

Adding to this pressure is the news that Aldi and Lidl have huge expansion plans for the coming months and years, so the fight to stay relevant and competitive will only increase in intensity.

Shopping is a different beast now

Another factor affecting these brands is that we as consumers shop in a very different way today.

Home deliveries and click and collect options are becoming more and more popular, and the emergence of technology such as Amazon dash buttons allowing you to automatically re-order items when your stock is low also means that many customers never actually leave their house to do their shopping.

All of these developments mean that brands need to find new ways of reaching, creating and sustaining relationships with consumers.

Read more: Co-op Food explores sale of 300 stores

Loyalty does not exist as it once did, and customers are now looking for instant benefits and incentives rather than the traditional point-based schemes that until now have been so prevalent in this sector.

What now for in-between brands?

So what now for brands such as the Co-op, which sit between the discounters and the big four?

Making major changes to its design and branding is an excellent step in the right direction.

Creating an engaging presence and a memorable brand will help it to make meaningful connections with consumers, and allow it to reiterate what it stands for and what it can offer.

It’s these core values and how brands reinforce them that will determine who will come out on top as the battle to win the supermarket race continues to heat up.

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