Beer & Branding: Co-op Private Label

LEEDS, UK

Beer & Branding: Co-op Private Label

For anyone who has ever spent time meandering the streets of any of the UK's metropolitan enclaves, it's likely that he or she has encountered a Co-op. Established in 1844, the British consumer cooperative group is one of the largest chains in the world of its kind, with nearly 3,000 small grocery and convenience stores. The distinctly stacked blue "CO–OP" logo is a familiar sight for those looking for a quick bite or a drink to-go in the UK.

When it came to moving their private label beverage brand forward, Co-op enlisted the help of Leeds, UK-based design firm Robot Food. In regards to their packaging design approach, as the firm put it, "The team’s strategy was game-changing for the category; to not shy away from own-brand status and for beers, ciders and spirits to shout loudly through bold, attention grabbing design. A fixed color palette and silver Co-op brand mark was applied across the breadth of products for consistency and to allow more freedom when it came to designing each individual SKU."

According to Robot Food's market research, more shoppers are now savvier to "own-brand"/private label alternatives–aware of the innovation, quality, choice and price they can offer over big name brands. But research found that many retailers were still reluctant to break from a ‘me-too’ approach to design and happy to adopt a similar look to category leaders.

Well, as far as "own-brand" packaging goes, it's refreshing to see a retailer dive fully into such a bold and distinct aesthetic, especially when it just seems to make sense, visually. That Co-op cyan is instantly 'their own', and rightfully gets the platform it needed with this new beverage packaging. Just imagine if Kroger or Spartan brand followed suit...

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We chose not to shy away from own-brand status and, instead, create a uniquely proud narrative that heroes the brand and celebrates each product across beers, ciders and spirits. From vodka to wheat beer, the result is an eclectic but cohesive range that sits confidently alongside leading brands.
— Robot Food
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Beers, ciders and spirits has never looked more confident. Easy to navigate and hard to miss, Robot Food have set the bar for own label and delivered a range that feels like a genuine and credible alternative.
— Brooke Fletcher, Packaging Design Manager at The Co-op
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Images from Robot-Food.com