We've had so many questions following our rebranding announcement yesterday. Here's a personal message from BMC CEO Dave Turnbull:
Thanks everyone for a very impressive level of response, many thanks to everyone who has commented. Here are some personal perspectives and detail about the process to date:
Midway through last year, I was at a seminar in London when one of the speakers mentioned funding might be available to help sports organisations develop their commercial and sponsorship potential. The BMC has always struggled to attract sponsorship income on any kind of scale (we end up funding the bulk of our work ourselves), so I followed this up and eventually we were given the services of a reputable consultancy firm to help us work up ideas.
This work looked at things like our membership structure and benefits package, travel insurance and sponsorship options in great detail and has been extremely useful. At the start of the process we secured some addition money (around £25k) for a branding agency to take a detailed look at how people perceive the BMC and how we might be able to improve our image to connect with new people and stay relevant in the modern age.
At the outset my expectation was that we’d probably end up with a recommendation to adopt a new BMC logo and some detailed brand guidelines about how to position ourselves. There was no specific brief to come up with new name for the BMC - it just evolved that way because the consultants came up with idea we felt had traction. For years we’ve pondered about the suitability of ‘Mountaineering Council’ in our name, but we’ve never been able to come up with an acceptable alternative. BMC as an acronym is OK if you know the BMC, but for new people it’s not obvious who we are or what we do.
‘British Climbing’ has been bandied about over the years, but the word ‘Climbing’ is different to ‘Climb’ and would never be acceptable to our hill walking members. ‘Climb’ on the other hand does work in the context of ‘climb hills, climb mountains, climb rocks etc’. Other random options over the years have included British Mountaineering, British Mountain Sports or British Mountaineering and Climbing. None of which are hugely better than British Mountaineering Council / BMC.
So, Climb Britain was thought up as a concept in March this year and we took it from there: initially sounding people out internally to see if they liked it and felt it worth taking forward. This involved discussion amongst the BMC’s directors (all unpaid elected volunteers) and past Presidents (including the likes of Dave Musgrove, Rab Carrington and Chris Bonington) and the MCofS (who were supportive). There were some reservations, of course, but the overwhelming reaction was that the time (and the name) was right, so on 18 May the directors unanimously agreed to take the new name forward to the BMC National Council meeting, which took place at Plas y Brenin on 18 June.
An explanation for those who aren’t aware: National Council comprises two elected representatives from each of the BMC’s ten ‘Areas’ (London, Peak, Lakes, Cymru / Wales North, Cymru / Wales South etc.), the directors, and all of our Specialist Committee chairs (Clubs Committee, Access Management Group, Huts Advisory Group, Training & Youth Committee, Technical Committee etc.) as observers. National Council is the BMC’s policy-making body and the role of the Area reps is to feed in the views of their Area Meetings and take issues from National Council back to Areas for consideration when they see fit. National Council is made up of committed volunteers who give up their time (at least four weekends per years) to participate in quarterly meetings and the AGM. It comprises grassroots enthusiasts and is typically very thoughtful and cautious in approach.
So, on 18 June I presented the Climb Britain concept to a well-attended gathering, fully expecting it to raise eyebrows and to be knocked back to the September meeting following a period of wider discussion. National Council was aware the branding project had been going on and as it turned out the response was incredibly enthusiastic and positive. The Area representatives (your representatives) liked the concept and the name Climb Britain. They felt the time was right, that the BMC had to move with the times and they voted 19 for, 1 abstention, 0 against in favour of adopting the new identity.
For me personally, Climb Britain wasn’t love at first sight, it’s been a ‘grower’ though. My initial impression (back in March) was it sounded a bit awkward and unusual, more like a campaign than a national body, a bit radical for the BMC. But I think the logo works well: it’s distinctive, builds on previous BMC logos and, when seen in conjunction with the ‘climb hills, climb mountains, etc’ strapline, presents a strong and clear message. Give it time, I say.
In response to some of the other points on this thread and elsewhere:
1. Why rebrand? To continue to represent the best interests of all climbers and walkers now – and into the future – the BMC had to modernise and change. Without evolving, our membership age profile would have increased and at some stage – not now, but perhaps not far off – we would have ceased to become relevant in the new landscape.
2. What did the consultancy work involve? Discussion with a sample of BMC volunteers, Area reps, climbing wall managers, young and older climbers, hill walkers and others. Meetings with members of the BMC Women’s Development Group, our Hill Walking Development Group and staff, and visits to climbing walls.
3. What exactly is ‘Climb Britain’? It’s a new public identity, a new way of presenting what we do and what we stand for. Our formal name (Companies House, Memorandum & Articles of Association) will remain the British Mountaineering Council (BMC), and ‘BMC’ will still be used in aspects of our media and membership literature. The BMC’s core work for climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers will continue as usual under the Climb Britain banner; it will be business as usual.
4. Decision making / consultation. I’ve explained above how we arrived at Climb Britain. The BMC has an effective democratic structure and we used this in reaching the decision. Complex or commercially sensitive issues can be extremely difficult or impossible to agree via widespread membership consultation and there are times when we rely on our (your) elected Area reps to make judgement calls on big issues. That’s why they’re there, that why they give up their time to be involved.
5. Sport England and the Olympics. The consultancy work was paid for by Sport England so members’ money was not used on the rebrand. There were no strings attached (if we didn’t like what the consultants came up with then we weren’t obliged to accept it) and without this kind of help we wouldn’t normally be able to afford this level of professional advice. Finally, regarding the Sports Councils, Sport England is not involved with the Olympics, UK Sport is.
The BMC gets financial support from Sport England, not UK Sport. Sport England funds projects like ours to encourage organisations to increase their commercial (and external sponsorship) income and thus reduce their dependency on Government funding. This whole process started well before the 2020 Olympics became such a realistic prospect; it’s a complete coincidence that the two things have come about at the same time.
Read more about Climb Britain
BMC to change its name to Climb Britain
After more than 70 years as the British Mountaineering Council, we’ve decided to move with the times and unite all our members under one 'Climb' banner.
Climb Britain: the facts
We take a look at the facts behind the change to Climb Britain.
What does Climb Britain mean for walkers?
Changing to Climb Britain won't affect our work for walkers – find out more.
Climb Britain: a personal message from BMC CEO Dave Turnbull
Dave Turnbull gives a behind-the-scenes look at the process.
Climb Britain: Update from the BMC
It's been a rocky ride this last few days, and it's probably fair to say we didn’t quite anticipate the level of interest there would be in our Climb Britain announcement.