July 15, 2010

YMCA launches new branding

"For the first time in 43 years, the YMCA has unveiled a new brand strategy to increase understanding of the impact the nonprofit makes in communities. The YMCA has the unique capacity to address many of the challenges facing the nation today. Through its new brand strategy and framework, the nonprofit will extend its reach into communities to nurture the potential of youth and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being and provide opportunities to support neighbors.

The new brand strategy – the result of more than two years of analysis and research – was introduced today at a National Press Club event. The YMCA unveiled a new, more forward-looking logo that reflects the vibrancy and diversity of the organization, and a framework that focuses resources on three core areas: youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. In another major change, the nonprofit will be called “the Y” to align with how people most commonly refer to the organization." (From their Official Press Release:)

"The Y’s new visual system reflects our true identity: a caring, people-oriented organization that is devoted to the cause of strengthening communities. Our refreshed logo, for instance, is bold, active and welcoming, suggesting our determined commitment to social progress. Plus, the many colors reflect the vibrancy and diversity of our communities and activities."

I love the new color palette. I like the forward movement brought on by the new arrow like treatment of the "Y". I also like that it almost looks like a human figure leaping forward. From a graphic design standpoint though, I wonder if they're going to be challenged going forward by the way it seems to lean too far to the right and thus may always appear to be off-center.

All in all, it's a huge leap forward for them and I do like it. It reminds me a little of the thinking we did around the "promotional" logo we designed for the launch of the new Moncton YMCA when it opened it's brand new facility back in 2004. At the time, we also recognized that everyone always referred to it as the "Y". We also thought the subtle double entendre ("the new Y / the new why") was cool.

A brief history of the YMCA logo...

The Ninth Conference in London approves the first Y logo, which highlights Y values by featuring a reference to John 17:21: “That they may all be one … as We are one.”

Luther H. Gulick, M.D., proposes a red triangle as the Y symbol. The equal sides of the triangle stand for “man’s essential unity, body, mind and spirit, each being a necessary and eternal part of man, he being neither one alone…”

The annual convention of the U.S. and Canadian Y's authorizes adding the triangle to the old World Alliance Insignia.

The logo is simplified and a second ring is added. It is said the second ring represents friendship and love without end among individuals. This remains the Y’s official emblem.

1897 – 1967
The everyday logo from 1897 to 1967 is the red triangle.

1967 – 2010
The Y creates and trademarks the logo with the triangle and bent bar.

Branding Agency: Seigel+Gale