WASHINGTON, DC — Despite criticism from the Village People, who say they will keep singing their 1970s disco anthem “Y.M.C.A.” with all four letters, the YMCA organization is now just going by “the Y.”
“When speaking about the YMCA movement in the United States, we will refer to ourselves as ‘the Y’ to align with how people most commonly refer to our organization,” says Mamie Moore, marketing and communications representative for the YMCA of the USA. “Individual Ys are required to use YMCA as part of their formal association or branch name. We will continue to use Young Men's Christian Association in legal and constitutional materials.”
The organization says “the Y” should be used now to refer to the collective organization, while “YMCA” should still be used to denote a specific location, such as the YMCA of Greater Louisville.
The Y announced the change as part of its new branding strategy focused on modernizing its image and drawing attention to three core areas.
“With our brand revitalization, the Y will focus on three specific areas of focus: youth development, healthy living and social responsibility,” Moore says. “We will focus on these areas equally. In focusing on healthy living, our goal is to improve the nation's health and well-being by offering programs and services that support family time, sports and recreation, group activities, and health, well-being and fitness.”
The YMCA of the USA already transitioned to the new brand with a fresh logo and website redesign. The old logo had been in use since 1967. Other Y facilities nationwide will have five years to fully make the transition and rebrand everything from gym floors to business cards.
Disco bands aside, not all Y patrons are excited about the new logo either. A Facebook page called “Don't Change the YMCA Logo” is already online collecting disgruntled fans.
As part of its rebranding process, the Y conducted a nationwide survey that found that 66 percent of Americans say the current quality of life in their community is worse than it was a year ago. When asked what the future holds for quality of life in their community, 51 percent of those surveyed were optimistic about the future, while 49 percent were not.
“People are concerned about the problems facing their communities,” Neil Nicoll, president and CEO of the YMCA of the USA, said in a statement. “Like the Y, they understand that lasting change will only come about if we work together to improve our health, strengthen our families and support our neighbors. Our hope is that more people will choose to engage with the Y.”