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Clever Branding Makes a Food Co-op Less Crunchy, More Sexy

One London co-op is selling itself both on good food and good design. Take that, hippies!

Clever Branding Makes a Food Co-op Less Crunchy, More Sexy

The People's Supermarket in London is your classic hippie-dippie food co-op. But you'd never guess it, thanks to a fantastic branding scheme from the British design firm Unreal.

The new identity package elevates the notion of a food co-op, with its collective ideals and crunchy, freewheeling mission, into something improbably hip. "[The branding] needed to reflect the co-op's core values of being communal, affordable and democratic without appearing too virtuous or elitist," Unreal's Ryan Tym writes on the blog Identity Designed.

So Unreal took the Euroslot — a hole punch for displaying products that's synonymous with retail — and turned it into a branding icon. "It has the ability to evolve from a decorative feature on letterheads and business cards," Tym writes, "to forming the handle of bags, or a tab device in in-store signage." Under the Euroslot, you've got the supermarket's name and catchphrase, "For the people, by the people," done up in bold black lettering and set against a sunburst yellow background (the color of members? T-shirts). The concept is totally simple and surprisingly elegant — precisely what you'd expect from high-end foodie outlets like Dean & Deluca, but not a place where you have to work for your food.

Which prompts the question: Does a co-op really need good branding? We think so. Once the sole realm of broke college students and even broker hippies, coops are starting to attract more discerning customers, who probably know and care about design. (Just think of the almost off-putting image that Whole Foods had years ago, when it seemed like the province of all natural stoners.) It stands to reason that with better design, you can attract more members. The more members you have, the bigger your organization and, presumably, the more likely you'll be able to direct resources toward harnessing better products.

It's not like the People's Supermarket spent a fortune on this thing, anyway. Everything was designed so that it could be produced in-house. One of the big expenses was the hole punch. It cost 12.50 pounds on eBay.

For more Co.Design coverage of Unreal, go here.

[Images by Haarala Hamilton Photography courtesy of Unreal]