Branding Strategy: YMCA Knows What’s Up!

September 18, 2010

The first “real” sport I played was the wonderful game of soccer. My parents signed my brother and me up at our local YMCA. Within a few weeks of participating in the sport—I quit. I told my parents that soccer was stupid, and all you did was “get dirty and kick a ball.” To this day, I regret quitting the game.

Although I didn’t participate in any other sports at my local YMCA, it was still a large part of my life. My dad has been working out there for over 20 years!

Well Dad, you will be happy to know that the YMCA is giving itself a facelift to what you have been calling it since you walked into the building.

What is the YMCA doing?

The YMCA is one of the largest nonprofits that are giving its organization a new brand and logo to create more public awareness around all of the services it offers—a brilliant idea.

Image Courtesy of Google Images

According to a reported article from Naples Daily News, the most visible change to the brand is the updated Y logo. The article reports that the new logo uses a stylized delta or arrowhead shape plus a triangle to form the letter y (the y is lowercase in the logo). The new logo also comes in five different color variations.

Why is this a brilliant idea?

I think the new brand and logo will help the Y communicate its organization more effectively. For years people have been referring to the YMCA as the Y. I never once thought twice about where my dad was going when he told me he “was stopping at the Y on his way home from work.”

With new brands being introduced in the masses, it is important for nonprofit organizations to keep its brand from becoming to generic. Organizations need to continually research how it is perceived and how to connect with its surrounding communities.

Most, if not all nonprofits rely solely on community and/or government support. The more a nonprofit can connect with its community and let the community appreciate all it does, the more successful it will be.

According to an article from the NonProfit Times, two years of research went into the new brand strategy and will reflect the vibrancy and diversity of the organization. It will also provide a framework that focuses resources on three core areas: youth development, healthy living and social responsibly. The new Y logo defines those three areas.

The Y introduced its brand through a national campaign on September 18, and within the next five years all 2,680 affiliates will transition.

Why is this important for PR professionals?

I think public relation professionals working for nonprofits should take a lesson from the Y. Refocusing your brand strategy will only make your organization stronger and help keep a loyal following. By conducting research every few years, public relation professionals will be able to keep its organizations mission current with the needs and wants of its audience.

I applaud the Y and its new branding strategy, and so will my dad! I am excited to see how its new face will strengthen its organization and its relations within its community.

What do you think?

Do you guys think the Y is making a smart decision in changing its brand and logo? Do you think its new brand and logo represents the organization? Should nonprofits be aware of the wants and needs of its audience when it comes to their brand identity? Leave your thoughts in the comments or send me a reply on Twitter!

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One Response to “Branding Strategy: YMCA Knows What’s Up!”

  1. lvogel1 said

    I personally feel it’s great that the Y is updating its brand. It’s really hard for any nonprofits to survive and the ones that do are the ones that are constantly offering new things to consumers (including brand clean ups). The Y’s update is much needed. I remember my days at the Y with my “Child Tender” group. It’s an amazing place for kids to spend time productively in the summer. Instead of rotting my brain out in front of the TV all day, I’d be playing and interacting with friends by the pool. The old logo was so clunky and out dated. This new brand image is all a part of giving its consumers what they want. Change is usually good and I think the Y has done a fantastic job of keeping its core values while simply giving the logo a nice clean facelift.

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