Designing Principles

Posted on Sep 3, 2020

As a communications cooperative, the co-op principles are a big deal at Pioneer.

We are owned by and create content for public power utilities, including many electric co-ops. We often partner with service co-ops such as National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance CorporationNational Information Solutions Cooperative and Southeastern Data Cooperative.

We love cooperation so much, we have a video tutorial on Why Co-ops are Cool.

There are more than 29,000 cooperatives of all shapes and sizes in America, with 100+ million members. We love our shared foundation of principles (all seven!). Originally called the Rochdale Principles, these principles kept co-ops strong since 1844. Twenty-five years ago this month, the International Cooperative Alliance adopted a Statement of Cooperative Identity, renaming these foundational ideas the Cooperative Principles.

How can we spread our love of these principles to others? Unlike a typical campaign tagline, designing graphics to highlight all of the principles presents a challenge. As we get ready to celebrate National Cooperative Month in October (cake, confetti, content, check!), we’re showcasing ways to share pride in our principles.


Seven Co-op Principles graphic

Pioneer: Share Your Principles

Looking for a clean way to share the seven things that set us apart from other types of businesses? In 2014 our graphic designer, Duy Mai, tackled the design challenge and created our “7” principles design. A starter kit with social and print versions of the graphic is available for free, and last year we released a video to pair with the graphic. Want a poster for your lobby or custom colors? We’d love to help.

NRECA: Understanding the Seven Cooperative Principles

As the national voice and training service for electric cooperatives, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association often offers members free art to explain the co-op principles. An icon-based design arrived in early 2020.

Graphics for each principle are available for use on social channels. Poster and wallet card designs help educate staff about how co-ops function. PDFs and art files are available for free to NRECA members; printed versions of both pieces are available by request. Looking for a video to showcase our principles? A few years back NRECA created an animated video that still holds power today.


Touchstone Energy: Strong Principles in Every Line

Touchstone Energy created a landing page with a set of icons showcasing the cooperative principles. The marketing arm of NRECA also has a video highlighting the principles.

Texas Electric Cooperatives: Commemorative Prints

When the Texas statewide association for electric co-ops needed art for their office, they worked with Frank Curry, an Austin-based fine art and commercial photographer. He specializes in creating art by blending historic and contemporary images. Preview available on


Crawford Electric Cooperative: Poster Principles

Crawford Electric Cooperative, MO, teamed up with a graphic designer, John Pruitt Creative, to develop a cooperative principles poster. The effort won a 2017 gold Spotlight on Excellence Award for graphic design.


Austin Cooperative Business Association: Cooperative Principles Posters

Co-ops are big in Texas. Different types of co-ops banded together in Austin, TX, to form the Austin Cooperative Business Association. To educate members, they commissioned artist Christie Zangrilli to design a set of seven posters,  one for each principle.



TESA Collective: 10 Reasons Co-ops ROCK

TESA Collective creates games for social good. Their poster, 10 Reasons Co-ops Rock, may be out of stock, but the design remains a favorite in co-op circles. If you’re looking for a fun staff activity, TESA Collective designed a game about cooperation, too.


Co-operatives UK: Proud to Be a Co-op

Cooperation spreads beyond borders, so we looked at co-ops internationally to see how designers tackle the principles. In the United Kingdom, Co-operatives UK holds a large event each summer to celebrate cooperatives. They offer free poster art showcasing the co-op principles surrounding the message, “Proud to be a Co-op.”


Principles in Motion

Some concepts can be hard to capture in print. Video offers a fun alternative for staff training, lobby screens and social channels. Here are a few video examples showing how different co-ops showcase the principles.


Designing Principles

These examples are only a handful of ways we’ve seen people design education on our shared principles. Have a favorite example to share? Post it here! That’s the beauty of cooperation.

The more we work together, the stronger we become.



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