The Undefeated’s name was based on a famous quote by Maya Angelou, “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated.”
As the Undefeated continued its growth, issues began to surface.
While “undefeated” typically is a sports term, the publication shared the name with an apparel company, UNDFTD, a Los Angeles-based premium sneaker and clothing boutique. On Feb. 28, The Undefeated went through changes, the most jarring of which was the name. They announced they were moving forward with the name Andscape.
The new name allows Andscape to separate itself. Andscape expanded its coverage and now can reach into different topics, like clothing.
“You can trademark Andscape in a way that you could not with the Undefeated,” David Dennis, an Andscape writer, said in a phone interview. “So it opens up the door for a lot more options to do other things. That alone is one of the major benefits.”
They have taken advantage of those benefits. With the new branding, when someone sees the word, the company hopes its brand can be instantly recognizable because it is so different, Dennis said.
The sports aspect of The Undefeated is still present, but the company added to it. There is a variety of content throughout the website, including pop culture and other topics to do with Blackness and insight into the Black experience. Being tied to a huge engine in Disney by ESPN will accelerate Andscape’s growth as well.
“There’s a stereotype of what a prestigious journalism entity is,” Dennis said. “People are going to think New York Times and things like that, not necessarily Black companies, so that’s an issue. But a benefit is that Andscape is tied to a larger entity that has a lot of name and clout. So that’s one thing, but in general, there’s a stereotype for what black media is supposed to look like, or what black media brings to the table as opposed to white media.”
Andscape plans to expand upon the reputation and following developed by The Undefeated. Writers, including Dennis, Marc Spears, SJI alum Soraya McDonald and Kelley Carter, have built up large followings with their work and won’t skip a beat even with the name change.
There have been detractors. From the main tweet from ESPN’s PR account, Andscape has faced skepticism and confusion from followers. It will be an adjustment for the consumers, but Spears believes they will come around.
“Eventually people will get used to it, and it will have the same meaningful feeling to it that The Undefeated did,” Spears said. “I remember when the New Orleans Hornets changed their name to the Pelicans, a lot of people didn't like it. They had a big problem with it. But when you go into the arena now, they start chanting, ‘Let’s go, Pels!’”
Ultimately, content is king, and what Andscape produces will be the driving factor for its success.
“For me, it's just about putting out good content,” Dennis said. “In general, I write for a Black audience, with Black folks in mind. Making sure that those that I want to reach are being reached.”