July 13, 2010 in City

YMCA shortens its name by three letters

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Tags:YMCA

Just call it the Y.

The venerable YMCA, known by the acronym alone for generations, has rebranded itself with the single letter – a truncation many members already use.

“We’re simply using a colloquialism to refer to the same institution that is about the same thing,” said Mary Berry, communications director for YMCA of the Inland Northwest.

The rebranding, launched Monday, comes with a more focused message.

“We want to be really clear with our messaging, and the revised message is that the Y’s core missions are for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility,” Berry said. “That’s not anything different than what we have been doing for 166 years. We are just changing our branding.”

The new logo is a large Y with a small “YMCA” beside it. It reflects the vibrancy and diversity of the organization, according to a press release from the Chicago-based nonprofit. The new brand strategy was based on the culmination of two years of analysis and research.

The big Y emphasizes “young,” Berry said.

It’s the first time in 43 years the YMCA has released a new brand strategy. Officials said the marketing campaign is a way to remind people of “the impact the nonprofit makes on the community.”

The organization was founded by George Williams in the 1840s as the Young Men’s Christian Association. Much of its original traditions have carried through the years, including offering dormitory facilities, fitness classes, outdoor camps and educational opportunities.

“This is an important and exciting time for the Y. For 160 years, we’ve focused on changing lives for the better,” said Neil Nicoll, president and CEO of the YMCA of the USA. “Our commitment to building greater awareness for the important work we do will enable us to expand our efforts and further strengthen communities across the country.”

Trish McFarland, executive director of the YWCA in Spokane, was surprised Monday to hear of the YMCA’s decision to go with the Y, but said it didn’t apply to her agency.

“We are completely separate organizations,” she said.

It focuses on helping women and children be safe, strong and successful, according to the organization’s mission statement.

However, the two organizations do share space in two new facilities, in central and north Spokane. Berry said the logo on the YMCA side would be changed.

The national office has begun the transition to the new brand. Berry said, “There’s a five-year implementation process.”

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