Established in the City of London in 1844, YMCA is the largest and oldest charity working with young people in the world. As a federated structure each of the 114 local YMCAs in England is an autonomous charity, independently run and managed, providing a wide array of community based activities and services to help meet local needs.
YMCA came to us after recognising that it was failing to get a clear message across to the public, and this was affecting its share of charitable donations and the effectiveness of its work.
As part of the drive for communicating more effectively, YMCA commissioned us to help them develop the foundations of a clear, cause related brand proposition and to develop one national brand which could be adopted by each member of the federation.
Through our research and analysis phase we identified that YMCA is a prolific deliverer of services into the community, caters to a wide range of age groups and audiences and operates with real local emphasis – all of which was creating confusion – both externally and internally.
By recognising that ‘youth’ as well as ‘community’ was indelibly written into the YMCA history, we identified a way of relating the two – to avoid the temptation of singling out youth and restricting the cause of the organisation.
Our generative idea ‘Youth Minded Community Approach’, – provided the focal point for linking everything YMCA does and how they express their brand. By taking this Critical Thinking further we provided YMCA with the means of categorising their many services and activities under five main areas – Accommodation, Family Support, Health and Fitness, Training, Counselling and Advice. We also provided the language for expressing their cause, a mechanism for assessing which activities were relevant to their brand, and the means of relating the function of each activity back to the brand through the requirement of a belief statement and articulation of outcome. The YMCA value statement we created will appear on every piece of collateral and local website falling under the YMCA Federation.
Our creative strategy used the longstanding triangle in a number of different ways – as the basic component building block of the tangram logo, as an internal discipline for applying ‘who, why and what’ when visually promoting activities or services and a graphic tool for housing the belief statement and pointing to an outcome.
Our Critical Thinking at every stage of the project has created the backbone for a brand with national consistency and strength. Every expression of the brand has been addressed from the vast array of sub-brands which had crept into existence over the years, extensive signage design and prototyping and the creation and design of a website template system that allows each local YMCA to personalise their content and message within a strong YMCA brand framework.
I am incredibly pleased with how things have gone and the response that the brand has elicited. You would have loved to hear the comments at our recent National Conference – the shift in thinking here and the unifying power of the new brand is nothing short of phenomenal.
– Kath Mills, Head of Communications
ASHA brought everyone across the federation to a place of common understanding of who we are and the challenges we faced. It enabled the creation of a brand that has been adopted by our members rather than one that needed to be imposed.
– Peter Jeffery, Chairman YMCA England