The YMCA gets a makeover: Meet 'The Y'

The YMCA is downsizing, but not in the way many might fear. The 166-year old organization first known as the Young
Men's Christian Association is remaking its image and shrinking its name down to one solitary letter: "Y." The Y, as it will be known, will also sport a logo with a brighter color combination in a more contemporary font.

The Y was overdue for a makeover. Its former logo, the sixth since its inception, had been in place since 1967. The organization spent two years doing market research and analysis to come up with the new logo, it said in a press release Monday. "It's a way of being warmer, more genuine, more welcoming, when you call yourself what everyone else calls you," said Kate Coleman, the organization's senior vice president and chief marketing officer told the New York Times. It's also a nickname that members of the organization have been calling it for years.
The Y expects the transition to be complete within the next five years. However, the organization already has a jump start with an iPhone app to keep members informed. The New York Times reports that other non-profits have not fully embraced the world of iPhone apps because of Apple's restriction on fund raising.

Neil Nicoll, President and CEO of the Y, said in the company's press release Monday that the re-branding comes at a time when it has become increasingly important to build awareness for the work the organization does. According to the Y's research, more than half of Americans believe their quality of life is worse than it was a year ago. WalletPop contacted the Y for additional information, but has yet to receive a response.

A simplified name change is nothing new. Companies like BP (formerly British Petroleum), AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), and NPR (National Public Radio) have all shortened their names. Branding professionals say that it's easier for the press, consumers, and even social networking sites like Twitter, which limits messages to 140 characters, to better recognize a brand. However, it may take some getting used to. That famous "Y.M.C.A" chant will forever be the background song to accompany "the Y".
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