Mission to make Guaranteed Irish logo a badge of honour both at home and abroad
Guaranteed Irish (GI) was once the hallmark of the most revered brands. Recognisable around the world as a symbol of Irish quality, the GI logo also provided a stamp which stood out to consumers at home.
With the onset of globalisation and the ever-expanding remit of the EU, the GI logo has faded into the background in recent years. Government policy has altered with the shifting economic sands, and Guaranteed Irish became something of an afterthought when it came to the promotion of Ireland Inc.
Guaranteed Irish was set up in 1974 by the Irish Goods Council as a form of import substitution. The notion was that Irish consumers could show loyalty to domestic businesses by buying items produced at home.
The GI logo became synonymous with well-known Irish brands such as Kerrygold and Flahavan's porridge.
However, with the aforementioned changes in society, the logo risked getting left behind.
Perhaps it was considered too quaint and insular at a time when the country was looking to the vast capital of foreign firms to stimulate burgeoning consumer demand and an insatiable desire for overpriced housing.
However, newly appointed CEO Brid O'Connell believes now is just the time for a new impetus for the Guaranteed Irish logo.
Ms O'Connell is keen to underline that the Guaranteed Irish logo is no longer confined to indigenous firms, adding that her vision for the brand will result in it becoming synonymous with community.
"What we are looking to do is provide a collaborative code to promote Ireland Inc. We will not be accepting companies that are just here in a brass-plate capacity. What we will be doing is trying to attract companies that have been here a long time and who have invested heavily in jobs and the community in Ireland," Ms O'Connell said.
A quick glance at the current list of Guaranteed Irish members provides a snapshot of the changes that have already occurred. French pharmaceutical giant Ipsen has revenues of €1.4bn, and sits alongside Pat The Baker as current members of the Guaranteed Irish stable.
One of the original GI members, Tayto, has remained a loyal flag-bearer down the years, but these days it is accompanied by Activis/Teeva -manufacturers of Botox.
While Ms O'Connell's remit is to give GI a rebrand, she is adamant the changes will be anything but cosmetic. She says there will be selectivity involved when it comes to who can carry the GI logo.
"It's not like someone will be able to import a widget from China and slap the GI logo on it. We will make sure there are criteria that have to be met."
She says those that do will receive strong support at home and abroad.
While once it may have been thought of as a noble symbol from a bygone era, Ms O'Connell name-checks Google and Facebook when it comes to possible future ambassadors for the GI brand. If she can achieve that, it would represent quite the turnaround.