Lessing Flynn

Ad Mavericks

January 24, 2011

Young man...the New YMCA Logo

An active step in the right direction? In a time where many businesses are hurting due to the last few years of an economic windfall, many have chosen to redefine and or reinvent themselves in hopes of capturing lost audiences and revenue. On the heels of companies such as Starbucks, The Gap, and countless others, the YMCA appears to be the latest in the trend of "re-branding" themselves. Of which these changes have garnered mixed reviews.

The YMCA has a long and storied history. What started in the mid 1800's as an association of young men driven by a common purpose of meeting social and community needs has evolved into an "inclusive organization of men, women and children joined together by a shared commitment to nurturing the potential of kids, promoting healthy living and fostering a sense of social responsibility" as stated on their website. For many people the YMCA will just be a place to work out, but for those who are aware of its history will realize it's so much more. Which leads me to this informal branding discussion.

As most of us know, a brand is not just a logo or trademark etc., but in the same breath these very things are visually top of mind when interacting with the consumer.

So let's make a brief comparison between old and new.

The old logo is very stoic. Its sharp corners and boldness remind me of a foundation or pillar of strength. The red triangle while stuffy, still conveyed a sense of openness. The old logo represented their philosophy and enhanced their brand well enough, but seems to be a little outdated.

The new logo, now features the bottom of Y at a slant, a filled-in triangle, rounded corners and new colors. My assumption is that they are focusing more on the appeal towards children or a younger audience. The softer look and color pallet certainly caters to that demographic. The left red part of the logo almost looks like an orange chevron, which promotes forward movement but also gives an unbalanced sense of leaning or almost falling.

The YMCA made a good move in implementing SOME of these design choices. However, I feel that the introduction of the words "The" and "YMCA" seems arbitrary. Is it an effort to educate those who aren't familiar enough with them and who might mistake the changes as too drastic and representative of a different organization, or merely implemented as a design choice to create a sense of balance?

The YMCA has also has also implemented different color pallets as seen on www.ymca.net and www.ymca.org. So what does this mean in establishing a style guide or brand standards? Does this new logo speak in terms of its rich history, its global philosophy or a sense of social responsibility? Does it even need to? Companies such as Apple, NIKE and Coke-A-Cola are good examples of logo/trademarks that speak in a singular, almost minimalistic voice when representing their own brands. So is this the YMCA's new visual take on that approach or is this a tool to help increase overall membership?

NOTE: These are merely opinions and observations to help stimulate a conversation, as I applaud the efforts of The YMCA in trying to capture a greater audience while reaching for a greater good.

So what do you think? Is it an active step in the right direction or has The YMCA missed the "mark"?

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