YMCA Rebrands Itself Frustrating the Village People


With an already abbreviated name, what possessed the YMCA to shorten it again? Along with the complete overhaul to the YMCA logo and image, the response has been mixed with feelings of disappointment and frustration. More specifically, from the Village People.

Last year, they were listed as the top most valuable non profits. Worth an estimated 6.4 billion dollars based on five years of financial data and survey results compiled by Cone. So, why ask Y about the change considering the last one occurred in the 60s. The organization may be looking to gain the attention from the youth market and because of the results of that 2009 study, the Y may be searching for how to attain higher ranking for their brand image. In case you were wondering, The American Cancer Society was named the most relevant and recognizable nonprofit organization.

According to a Media Post article, Cone stated:

“When a nonprofit’s brand image perception differs markedly from its financial performance, “there is some unmet opportunity left on the table, in some cases millions of dollars in potential revenue,” Cone says. “This critical synergy between an organization’s financial performance and its brand plays a significant role in generating additional funds to put toward mission services.”

Capturing the youth market might be tricky, however, Washington Times article also stated:
Research studies also prove that the average person only remembers two- or three-word symbols, he said, and the new one-letter name puts a larger emphasis on youth.”

Will this attempt at becoming more youthful benefit overall membership numbers and more important the revenue for 2010? Individual branches have been reporting an increase to date.

In the meantime, the CMO stated:  “The Y should be used when referring to the organization as a whole, but YMCA is correct usage for a specific location.”

Outside of the non-profit sector and for completely other reasons, we’ve seen a number of other attempts at re-branding over the last several years. Success or failures? You decide:

The Shack: Radio Shack

Xfinity: Comcast

SyFy: SciFi Channel

AOL. (gets a period)

The Hut: Pizza Hut

At a cost of over a cool mil, the new Pepsi logo

BP: British Petroleum rebrands as “Beyond Petroleum” (although these days most people think BP stands for “Big Polluters.”)

Love or hate the Y’s new look, the song will never get old. Sing along to the Village People with me, everybody now…Young man, it’s fun to stay at the Y…!

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