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A name change and rebrand for Bushwalking NSW?

A name change and rebrand for Bushwalking NSW?

I believe BNSW and bushwalking clubs in Australia need a change in name and a rebrand to remain strong and relevant into the future.

It is evident that most clubs in NSW and the ACT are not attracting younger members. This raises concerns regarding the long-term viability of our clubs and indeed the whole bushwalking club movement in our State and Territory. I am convinced a significant change is required; we need to ‘turn the ship around’.

As already expressed in a previous Opinion Piece, I believe the crux of our problem lies in the regrettably less-than-exciting image of bushwalking clubs. Our clubs are not widely perceived as exciting and cool, but regrettably as rather staid and boring, and increasingly, full of retirees (like me!). We need a subtle change of image, a rebrand, to help inspire and attract a younger cohort into our clubs, to re-energise our whole movement.

The need for a change in our names and terminology was also supported by results from the recent BNSW Outdoor adventure terminology survey. The survey, with over 170 respondents mostly from BNSW member clubs, revealed that 50% of respondents gave their first preference to hypothetical club names that included the term ‘Outdoor Adventure’, whilst only 8% gave their first preference to a club name with the sole term ‘Bushwalking’. A substantial majority of 83% agreed that a club name should include more than just ‘Bushwalking’ if other activities were also undertaken by the club (Figure 1).

As a key step in this rebranding process, I am advocating for the simple addition of a new term such as ‘Outdoor Adventure’ or merely just ‘Adventure’ into our names. Thus, for example, Bushwalking NSW might change to Bushwalking Adventure NSW. The fictional Highlands Bushwalking Club might change to Highlands Bushwalking Adventure Club.

I am convinced that such a relatively simple change would go a long way towards improving our brand and image, and reverse the aging and decline in our movement. Other measures will also be important in conjunction with the rebrand, such as enhancing social media presence, promoting the benefits of joining formal clubs and adopting welcoming measures for younger people.

BNSW expects to further explore opinions and avenues for a potential name change and rebrand during the 2024/2025 year.

Please consider this issue, and whether you support exploration of a possible simple name change and rebranding for Bushwalking NSW, and also for your own club. Please let BNSW know your thoughts by responding through the email below.

Jon Gray
Bushwalking NSW Vice President and Young People in Clubs (YPIC) Working Group.
Email: youngpeopleinclubs@bushwalkingnsw.org.au

 

Results – BNSW outdoor adventure terminology survey

Thank you to Paddy Pallin and Wild Magazine for providing great prizes!

By Jon Grey, BNSW Young People in Clubs Working Group, youngpeopleinclubs@bushwalkingnsw.org.au

The Terminology Survey aimed to examine people’s opinions and perceptions about the terminology currently used to describe bushwalking, related activities and associated clubs. It was exploring a proposition that naming and terminology used in conjunction with bushwalking clubs may influence the level of interest and desire to participate in our clubs, particularly from younger people.

The survey was open for the 4-month period to the end of January 2024, and had a total of 173 respondents. The key findings are summarised below, followed by a graphical presentation of the results.

Q1. Please rank the following terms from the most to least inspiring and ‘cool.

The three most popular terms were 1. outdoor adventuring; 2. Hiking; then 3. bushwalking, followed by wildwalking, trekking and walking. The precise ordering varied depending on the use of either a weighted score or first preference score system.

Q2. Rank the following Club names from most to least inspiring and ‘cool’. Which Club would you be most proud to be a member of?

The three most popular names for the fictional bushwalking club were: 1. Highlands Outdoor Adventure Club; 2. Highlands Bushwalking and Outdoor Adventure Club; and 3. Highland Hikers, which were all notably ahead of the Highlands Bushwalking Club. The two club names that contained the term ‘outdoor adventure’ received a combined 50% of first preferences, compared to just 8% for the club with ‘bushwalking’ alone.

Q3. Do you believe a club name should reflect more than bushwalking if other activities (eg, cycling, canyoning or kayaking) are undertaken?

83% of respondents strongly or slightly agreed that the name of a club should include more than bushwalking if other activities such as cycling, canyoning or kayaking were undertaken (including 55% who strongly agreed).

Q4. Would the name of an outdoor club or organisation influence your perception of how exciting, dynamic and ‘cool’ it was?

75% of respondents indicated that it was highly or somewhat likely that their perception of how exciting, dynamic and ‘cool’ a club or organisation was, would be influenced by its name.

Q5. If an outdoor club had an exciting, dynamic and ‘cool’ image, would this encourage you to join it and possibly participate in leadership roles?

59% of respondents indicated that they were highly or somewhat likely to be encouraged to join an outdoor club and possibly participate in leadership roles if it had an exciting, dynamic and ‘cool’ image.

Q9. Other comments?

Of the 73 specific comments received, there was a wide range of views. 34% supported the importance of terminology, 49% were neutral or raised other issues to consider, and 16% were clearly not supportive of the importance of terminology. The comments emphasised the importance of other issues besides terminology such as the need for a strong social media presence (with images portraying younger generations); a welcoming club culture and varied club programs. 73 respondents made comments, ranging from:

    • Supportive of the importance of terminology: 34%

    e.g. ‘Image can be everything when it comes to membership’;

    Words matter! the name is important’

    • Neutral or raising other issues: 49%

    e.g. ‘I would love to join outdoor clubs but cannot usually see myself in any of the imagery. It is usually people 30+ years older than me’

    • Statements clearly not supportive of importance of terminology: 16%

    e.g. ‘I think terminology is probably much less of an issue than technology and culture of clubs’

Respondent personal data  (total 173)

  • There were no significant differences between responses from the younger to older generations of respondents.

The results of the survey, particularly the hard statistical data, do overall suggest the potential importance of naming and terminology in the bushwalking and outdoor adventure movement for enhancing our image and possibly appealing more to younger generations. There is a strong preference for naming and terminology that includes ‘outdoor adventure’ and for names that indicate more than just ‘bushwalking ‘where other outdoor activities are undertaken. A large proportion of respondents indicated they might consider participating in leadership roles if a club or organisation had an exciting image. The qualitative comments reflected a range of views but highlighted the importance of multiple issues in attracting younger members into clubs.

A conclusion from the results would appear to be that individual clubs should at least consider possible slight renaming and rebranding of their clubs, with an enhanced focus on outdoor adventure activity in addition to bushwalking alone. Such a change, in conjunction with other measures such as enhanced social media presence, welcoming attitudes and promotion of the benefits of joining our clubs, may revitalise our clubs and possibly help attract younger generations.

Age Range (Q6):

 

 

Bushwalking Activity with (Q7):

Jon Grey

BNSW Young People in Clubs Working Group

mailto:youngpeopleinclubs@bushwalkingnsw.org.au

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perceptions of image and naming of our bushwalking clubs: a survey

There is growing concern that many bushwalking clubs throughout NSW and ACT are not attracting younger members, particularly younger people who are willing to take on leadership roles (see our recent Opinion Piece on this issue).

Many people have suggested that a part of the problem is the somewhat staid and less-than-exciting image of bushwalking clubs in Australia. Accordingly an important question is should we consider a change of image and possibly our names within the bushwalking movement?

We would love it if you would help Bushwalking NSW further explore these issues by completing our 3-minute survey: Community perceptions on bushwalking and outdoor adventure terminology. By completing this survey you will be in the running for one of several great prizes, including three $150 gift cards from Paddy Pallin and five subscriptions to Wild magazine.

For more information please contact us at: youngpeopleinclubs@bushwalkingnsw.org.au

Opinion piece: our bushwalking movement needs a change of image

Jon Grey, Bushwalking NSW Vice President and Young People in Clubs (YPIC) Working Group
14 July 2023

Bushwalking clubs throughout NSW and the ACT do not appear to be attracting younger members. This raises concerns regarding the ongoing regeneration, health and long-term viability of our clubs. I believe a change of our image is required.

I fear that bushwalking clubs, bushwalkers and the activity of ‘bushwalking’ do not have a dynamic and exciting image in the wider community, particularly with younger people. We and our beloved activity are generally not perceived as exciting or ‘cool’ but regrettably as rather staid and boring, and this is discouraging younger people from joining our clubs. This is a real shame, because most of us are in fact adventure seekers who believe in living life to the full. I believe we need to project an image of adventure and excitement to reinvigorate the whole movement.

My belief is that some change in the naming of our clubs is required to boost our image. Our names should give greater emphasis to ’outdoor adventure’ related activities, which I believe sounds more exciting and inspiring than the somewhat dull ‘bushwalking’ alone. I know that the term ‘bushwalking’ is held dear by many of us, therefore, I am only suggesting the simple addition of extra words into our club names, for example ‘Highlands Bushwalking Club’ changing to ‘Highlands Bushwalking and Outdoor Adventure Club’. At a broader level, I am also advocating a change from ‘Bushwalking NSW’ to ‘Bushwalking and Outdoor Adventure NSW/ACT’.

Also important is that most bushwalking clubs in NSW and the ACT typically do so much more than just ‘bushwalking’. Other activities such as cycling, canyoning, caving, kayaking and cross-country skiing are also widely undertaken. Furthermore, the term ‘bushwalking’ is not always apt when walking in alpine, or desert environments, or for overseas activity such as in Nepal, where terms such as hiking, trekking or the recently coined ‘wildwalking’ are more appropriate. Where clubs are just called ‘bushwalking clubs’ there is no suggestion they are involved in these other activities. It seems we are selling ourselves short.

It is interesting to note the gradual decline in the term bushwalking in Australia over the past two decades, based on Google search trends. From Figure 1 below, it is evident that in 2004 bushwalking and hiking had similar usage, but now hiking has a 20-fold wider usage. The term adventure currently has a 40-fold wider usage than bushwalking.

https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&geo=AU&q=bushwalking,hiking
Figure 1: Comparison of trends in use of “bushwalking” and “hiking” terms in Australia, 2004 to 2023.

In summary, I believe a change in the naming of our clubs is necessary to foster a more exciting and dynamic image within the bushwalking movement across NSW and the ACT. I believe the addition of terms such as ‘outdoor adventure’ to club names, and to BNSW itself, will help to reinvigorate the whole movement. We want and need young and adventurous people to think ‘Wow, that sounds like an exciting group! How can I get involved?’ I believe other measures we might adopt to attract younger members, such as increased promotion through social media, are unlikely to be successful in the long term without an underlying change of image.

What do you think?

Please discuss this issue amongst your fellow club members and email your comments to youngpeopleinclubs@bushwalkingnsw.org.au. BNSW hopes to soon conduct a survey amongst existing club members and also the wider community to help gauge perceptions of bushwalking and outdoor adventure terminology.

Jon Grey, Vice-President, Bushwalking NSW

Email: youngpeopleinclubs@bushwalkingnsw.org.au

 

Young People in Bushwalking Clubs

Notwithstanding reports that hiking and outdoor adventure has become fashionable for millennials, bushwalking clubs continue to seek ways to attract younger people.  An experienced young bushwalker keen to help clubs address this issue is National Parks Association of the ACT Committee Member Stef De Montis – age 32. Stef bush camps regularly in Australia’s high country and is also a keen runner, cyclist, skier and photographer.

Stef is interviewed in the June 2021 NPA Bulletin. He is passionate about helping clubs to attract younger members and believes this is needed to provide future club leaders and members. He highlights the importance of attracting young people to clubs to gain valuable life skills and an awareness of the importance of environmental protection.

Stef feels that many young people may be missing a sense of community in our modern world and that building friendships in a group setting will enhance young people’s ability to maintain their commitment to important causes.

To attract younger people Stef suggests that clubs hold social events aimed at, and run by, younger people.  Clubs can also harness the skills of experienced members by promoting informal mentorship programs to make young people feel welcome and develop their skills. He also believes that initiatives such as photography competitions and maintaining a strong online presence are ways clubs can encourage young people to get involved.

If you would like to read further, Bushwalking NSW has previously discussed similar ideas for clubs to consider, such as:

  • Consideration of the current average age of club members and if there is a need to appeal to a younger demographic
  • Identifying the potential reasons young people are not engaging with clubs
  • Identifying the skills and benefits clubs can provide to young people and the best way they can be be made aware of them
  • How to harness and pass on the skills of experienced members, for example, through mentoring opportunities
  • Consideration of how walks can be scheduled around young people’s work and or study commitments
  • Available opportunities to partner with local training organisations

What is the current demographic of your club and how successful have you been in attracting younger members? Let us know your experience and views – we would love to hear from you! – feel free to email Justine Bourke at newsletter@bushwalkingnsw.org.au