Opinion: Brid O’Connell CEO, Guaranteed Irish, ‘83% of consumers see Guaranteed Irish as a way of helping the local economy through Covid-19.’

83% of consumers see the Guaranteed Irish mark as a way of helping the local economy through Covid-19.

Is anyone listening?

Opinion by Brid O’Connell CEO, Guaranteed Irish on her 4th birthday in Guaranteed Irish.

 To the date, its been 4 years since I joined Guaranteed Irish- little did we know back then how pivotal a national symbol of trust and provenance would become as we all try to shop local and sustain our communities through local enterprise.

From a rich and loved heritage, by 2016, ‘Guaranteed Irish’ had become jaded.  It needed a new energy to reflect the business landscape of a modern and European Ireland. Despite its tiredness, research unveiled brand recognition of the iconic symbol was always over 74%. It was considered to be ‘all that is good about Ireland,’ a mark of quality and a mark of pride. Not one negative association came with the brand – something I had never experienced before from the world of branding. The symbol itself was the organisations most valuable asset.

In 2016, with a new ambitious Board of Directors appointed and the beginnings of a new energetic team, Guaranteed Irish went about reinventing itself. An activation programme commenced throughout 2017 and 2018. With some of the best critical and strategic thinkers in the country sitting on its board, membership growth was fast and focused across all sectors.

Today the organisation supports and represents all businesses in Ireland who support jobs, community and provenance, be they homegrown or international. By encouraging a culture where both Irish and FDI business can thrive alongside each other it can offer an all together better choice for businesses and consumers in which to invest and live.

So, can anyone join? No, you must satisfy the criteria set by the Board and implemented by the highly regarded appraisals board. This is new and unique to Guaranteed Irish unlike some new transient imposter labels championing Irish and green initiatives. The 46 year-old organisation welcomes companies that take a long term view of Ireland, supports jobs and their communities while they also must contribute to the Irish economy and have a physical presence here. Companies who look at ‘total value’ and support a circular and green economy are regarded.

Right from the start, the Government welcomed the return of the iconic symbol, but fell short in funding it. Little did Enda Kenny (who was our Taoiseach in 2016), know when he welcomed its return and promised to support the initiative, realise just how important Guaranteed Irish would become during Covid-19.

83% of consumers see the Guaranteed Irish mark as a way of helping the local economy through Covid-19.

Now the leading symbol of provenance and trust, businesses in Ireland are applying for membership not just to dial up their Irishness (as the conscious consumer seeks out the product with the Guaranteed Irish symbol), but to take refuge with other businesses who are all supporting each other- driving sales, retaining jobs and keeping our communities alive. There is a sense of pride and decency that is unique amongst Guaranteed Irish business members.

As a not for profit business membership organisation, it has been left to fend for itself since 1984. Many have agreed that it should receive state funding, now that it has repositioned itself and is no longer protectionist, but none have delivered. Yet we see this in other countries such as Italy, France, Germany and Australia. I see many opportunities for an iconic national brand that joins the forces of good not just for business, but for our society. It is the only brand I have every encountered to have no negative connotations, that instills pride and a desire to ‘do the right thing.’ If ever there was a time to need such a symbol Covid 19 and Brexit are screaming ‘Get behind Guaranteed Irish,’ is there anyone listening?

As a national brand, it is instantly recognisable and yet no financial aid has been sent to help it become the giant of a brand, that it could become to champion businesses in Ireland.

It is riding high at the moment but with a little help, it could be #AllTogetherBetter.



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