Why should co-operatives be “loud and proud” about their identity?
Dame Pauline Green : In the wake of the global financial crisis people are paying more attention to their economic decisions – looking for ethical places to work, sell, and buy goods and services. Co-operatives provide answers to these needs. The co-operative business model puts people at the heart of economic decision-making, bringing a greater sense of fair play to the global economy.
The Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade sets out an ambitious plan for the co-operative form of business to become the acknowledged leader in economic, social and environmental sustainability as well as the model preferred by people. We want co-operatives to become the fastest growing form of enterprise by 2020.
This can only be achieved if embraced by the movement and integrated into local action. Co-operative identity is one of the pillars of the Blueprint. Defined by the core values and principles of co-operation, identity needs to be communicated through a powerful and distinctive message to ensure that co-operatives are seen and understood by everybody, from policy-makers to the general public. That is why we aim to build the co-operative message and secure the co-operative identity.
How can businesses showcase their co-operative identity?
Dame Pauline Green : We, the members of the International Co-operative Alliance are at the forefront of developing a global identity for the sector. A Marque which we hope will lead to the co-operative identity having much greater visibility and recognition across the world by 2020.
Free to use, our co-operative Marque was launched in 2013 as an ethical badge to be used alongside your brand. The Marque is versatile! It can be applied to your website homepage, newsletters, email signature, publications, promotions, packaging, merchandise and even buildings! We also have our own namespace on the internet, the domain .coop, which is reserved just for co-operatives. Using a .coop domain on your website and emails means that YOUR co-op identity is visible 24/7, and the domain is free for the first year.
Together the Co-operative Marque and a .coop domain help differentiate between a co-operative and an investor or privately-owned business.
Do you have a message for Alliance members?
Dame Pauline Green: As a member of the Alliance I know that you are proud of your co-operative identity and the difference that our values-based model of business makes to peoples’ lives. So I am asking for your help in promoting our Marque and internet domain .coop to your members. With your help we can encourage more co-operatives to promote their co-operative identity and demonstrate that they are proud to be part of a global movement and that together we support the growth of co-operation around the world.
We’ve already made great progress. The co-operative identity, either the .coop domain and / or the Marque, is now authorised for use in more than 100 countries. We need your help to drive down use of the marque and the internet domain .coop in each of the 96 countries where we have members so that co-ops at grass roots level know that they can use the Marque for free and get a .coop free for the first year by simply applying via www.identity.coop. Together we can help make the co-operative identity one of the best known ethical marques in the world by 2020.