The Y

Reconnecting to community

Revitalizing one of America’s most recognizable nonprofits


While most people knew the YMCA as a place for “swim and gym,” few understood its historic contributions to society—or its ongoing impact in communities across the United States. As the organization and its offerings expanded over nearly two centuries, it developed a bewildering set of identities, obscuring any core meaning behind the brand.


After an extensive discovery phase, including EyeOpener™ research and interviews with employees and volunteers across the country, we learned that each YMCA strengthens three foundational elements of community: youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. These elements could lay the groundwork for a major brand revitalization.


The first step was reorganizing the brand along the three foundational elements, making offerings—and their benefits—clear. We also recommended that the organization officially adopt its famous nickname,“the Y.”  The name represented a friendlier, more modern sensibility, which we brought to life with a vibrant visual and verbal identity, including a new logo and brand voice. We then equipped individual Ys with on-the-ground tools to introduce the new brand to their communities.

...the community increasingly sees the Y for what we are—a national charity dedicated to strengthening community. And people are seeking out the YMCA—with membership growing strongly over the past year. I’m proud of the difference we’re making.”

Paul Finstad, President & CEO, YMCA, Fargo ND


6x increase in internet searches and a dramatic increase in donations

At a recent event, we received a commitment of $535,000—from a single donor...We came to the community with a clear vision anchored in our brand, and they’re backing us to the hilt.”

Zane Moore, President & CEO, YMCA, Central Bucks County