On Monday, July 12, 2010 the YUSA (national organization of the YMCA) introduced a “new brand strategy and a new visual identity” for the 166-year-old organization known as the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association). This new branding strategy involves a greater emphasis on youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility and a change in logo as well as a change in the national nomenclature used to identify the organization from the “YMCA” to “the Y.”
In an article on the YMCA headquarters Web site, www.ymca.net, the change is noted by these words “The non-profit will be called ‘the Y’ to align with how people most commonly refer to the organization.” Kate Coleman, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of YMCA of the USA, said. “We are changing how we talk about ourselves so that people better understand the benefits of engaging with the Y. This strategy is designed to increase awareness of the immense impact the Y has on millions of lives to insure that people across this country truly understand the Y and the benefits of engaging with us.”
Coleman also stated that this is “a way of being warmer, more genuine, more welcoming, when you call yourself what everyone else calls you.”
The new logo and brand strategy is expected to take up to five years for full implementation.
Neil Nicoll, president and chief executive of the YUSA national organization, said about the new name change, “We’re trying to simplify how we tell the story of what we do, and the name represents that.”
Added Coleman: “Going forward all of our communications, all of our programs and services, will be framed under three core areas of focus: youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.”
We, the Board of Management at the local Effingham YMCA, want to assure the community that we are committed to upholding the YMCA mission statement which reads, “The mission of the YMCA is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all.” This mission statement has not changed and is still intact under the new national branding strategy. We at the Effingham YMCA, along with the YMCA of Coastal Georgia, maintain that we are a Christian organization and will continue to fulfill this YMCA mission statement. Christian values will remain at the core of all that we do.
It should also be known that YUSA has not instructed any local branch to change their name to “the Y.” This is the new national branding, but local branches will still be allowed to refer to themselves as the YMCA of their community.
Therefore, the name of the Effingham branch will remain the “Effingham YMCA.”
Kim Dennis, director of the Effingham Branch of Coastal YMCA of Georgia said, “We still are and always will be the Effingham YMCA and will maintain our Christian focus.”
Darren Thomas, chairman of the board of the Effingham YMCA, said, “The new branding for the YMCA seeks to more clearly communicate what the YMCA has been doing all along: youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. We just want to make sure that we emphasize our Christian mission, and our intent to accomplish these three tasks through that Christian message, which has been the core of this organization for over 166 years.”
The YMCA organization began in 1844 in London under the direction of George Williams. Williams joined forces with 11 other men to offer a place of Bible study, prayer and recreation for young men who were migrating to the city to find jobs. Williams was troubled by the rebellion and hopelessness that he saw in the lives of these young men and he wanted to offer them a better way of life through teaching them the values found in the Christian faith. Because of Williams’ vision and service, the Christian mission called the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) was born. For 166 years the YMCA has held Christian principles as its foundation and the core of its programming.
Though we, the Board of Management at the Effingham YMCA, feel that this new branding by YUSA distances the organization away from its historical Christian message, we are optimistic that we will be able to take this opportunity to strengthen our Christian message locally. We fully intend to continue emphasizing how God is at the center of youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.
We thank you for your ongoing support of the Effingham YMCA and we look forward to the great things that will be done through the work of the Effingham YMCA for many generations to come.
Submitted by the Effingham YMCA Board of Management