Rebranding in 2012 of mission agency had not met marketing expectations
An Anglican mission agency has conceded that its attempts to rebrand itself to be relevant to a 21st century audience has failed. The Us announced this week that it would be change its name back to the USPG. In a statement posted on its website, the Us said that a marketing study found that “while our partners in Britain and Ireland and around the world greatly appreciated the energy, values and practical work embodied in the Us brand, many remained saddened that we were no longer referring to the gospel in our name.”
It would revert to its former initials, USPG, but the letters would now stand for United Society Partners in the Gospel. Founded in 1701 as the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, in 1965 it merged with the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa (UMCA) merge to form the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (USPG). Amidst great fanfare it rebranded itself in 2012 as The United Society, known as Us.
At its relaunch on 20 Nov 2012 at St Margaret’s Church in Westminster, the Society’s Chief Executive Janette O’Neill explained: “USPG changing its name to ‘Us’ is a statement that everyone is included.” Referring to a In fact, the biggest cheer of the evening was reserved for a video looking at our history. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams lauded the new name’s ambiguity, saying it was a “wonderfully ambiguous and non-specific title” suited to a world where boundaries constantly shift because it is “‘very difficult to tell where ‘us’ stops and ‘them’ starts.”
On 20 July 2016 the society’s website printed a statement written by Ms. O’Neill acknowledging the rebrand had not met expectations, and “in response, we have decided to move forward with our original name USPG, albeit it in a modernised form; the acronym USPG will now stand for United Society Partners in the Gospel. As well as reintroducing ‘gospel’ into our name, the new meaning of USPG emphasises our focus on working in partnership with the world church, while also encouraging the Anglican Churches of Britain and Ireland to participate more deeply in that partnership.”
The re-re-branding of the society will take place at next month’s Greenbelt festival, where the name and a new logo will be unveiled.