Why has Biblelands changed names?
Biblelands explains why it is rebranding after 158 years to become Embrace the Middle East
Published 20 August 2012
What are the reasons behind the decision to change your name?
BL: We need to reach out to a wider audience. Research amongst potential supporters revealed that many Christians were deterred by our old name, regarding it as quaint and old-fashioned, and assuming that our ministry must be similarly out-dated.
Others assumed that we distributed Bibles or were an explicitly evangelistic charity. We found ourselves describing what we were not before we could say what we are. As a result, we were not attracting the new supporters we needed to secure the future of the charity.
How does the new name position you for the future?
BL: The need for a vibrant Christian social witness in the Middle East has never
been greater. Many people see Christians in the region as victims; we prefer to see them as ‘salt and light’ in their communities. We believe our new name will appeal to a wider range of Christians in the UK, and help us achieve our goal of raising £20 million over the next five years to help tackle poverty and injustice in the Middle East.
How did you find the new name? Did you consult your partners in the Middle East and what did they tell you?
BL: We ran several focus groups with key stakeholders, including long-standing supporters and partners in the Middle East, running various names past them. We looked for a name which conveyed our essence as an organisation, our DNA if you like. Our Middle Eastern partners loved the new name and our new ‘open hands’ logo. One said: “The new name is very evocative not only in an emotional sense but also spiritually, because one cannot stop oneself from thinking of Jesus 'embracing the cross' ... in the open hands one can see the
hands of Christ, of which ours are but an extension.”
How much did the re-brand cost? Did you use consultants?
We hired a specialist agency, ABA - The Business Brand Agency, to help us in the process, which lasted over a year. They came to us highly recommended, given their work with other Christian agencies such as Samaritans Purse, SAT-7 and Spurgeons. The external and one-off costs related to the re-branding, including design and production of new marketing
materials, were just over £150,000. This does seem a large sum, but we see it as a small investment in our medium-term strategy to raise £20 million over the next five years to help the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in the Middle East. Also, none of this money came directly from supporter donations; it was funded wholly by the surplus we made when we moved offices in December 2010.
How do you answer critics who say the new name jettisons the word ‘Bible’ and thus signifies the secularisation of the charity?
BL: The inclusion of the word ‘Bible’ led to confusion. Some people confused us with Bible Society; others thought we were similar to the Gideons. There is a Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem and another Christian charity calls its supporter magazine ‘Bible Lands’. So we resolved that we needed to change the name. But we are definitely not secularising the charity since our work since 1854 of Christian care and compassion in the lands of the Bible is definitely not changing.
On the contrary, it is because we want to be even more effective in our work for another 158 years that we feel the need to change. Other Christian charities (eg USPG) have felt the need to change their names, and they are not secularising either. All charities, including
Christian ones, have to move with the times, while keeping to their core values.
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