Brand Report: YMCA Glasgow becomes Y People

The charity explains why the charity decided to drop the Christian element of its brand and an expert assesses the new logo

Y People

When you are part of an international movement with a well-known name, taking the decision to rebrand is undoubtedly difficult.

Like YWCA, which recently rebranded as Platform 51, YMCA Glasgow decided to drop the Christian element of its brand late last year, as well as the word Glasgow, to become Y People.

YMCA Glasgow was formed in 1877 by the amalgamation of two societies: the Glasgow Young Men's Union and the Young Men's Christian Association, which was founded in 1824 as the Young Men's Society for Religious Improvement.

But Maria Mackay, director of operations at Y People, says the YMCA Glasgow name had become a "misnomer" because the organisation had developed into working with people of all ages, faiths and demographics, and of both genders. "We don't just work in Glasgow," she says. "We work across Scotland and we also work and have contracts with the Home Office."

As Scotland's leading supplier of supported accommodation, the charity employs more than 200 people. Its legal and trading name will still be YMCA Glasgow, but it will be known as Y People. Last year, the YMCA in the US changed its name to The Y - a move that Mackay says did not influence the Scottish charity's revamp.

After inviting tenders, the organisation chose to work with two agencies based in Glasgow: Freight and Matthews Marketing. Consultation exercises with stakeholders and staff highlighted aspects of the old identity people wanted to keep, and those they were happy to lose.

Mackay says attachment to the previous name meant a desire to retain a reference to the 'Y'. She says staff selected the strapline "supporting positive change in people's lives". The brand uses the blue and red from the previous logo. The icon of the old red triangle has also been updated and incorporated in the new design.

Mackay says that before the rebrand staff were constantly having to explain what the organisation's remit was, but they now get positive feedback from the new name.

She says that charity's name had previously made it "difficult on a local, political level" if YMCA Glasgow provided services in other cities, such as Edinburgh.

"It may have been an issue before, but it shouldn't be now, because the brand is no longer associated with one particular geographical area."

EXPERT VIEW - Giles Robertson, founder, Green Banana Marketing

Giles Robertson, Founder, Green Banana MarketingMost of the world knows the name YMCA, so for the Glasgow association to go it alone as Y People might at first seem like a crazy move.

The 'Y' is the easiest bit of the Village People's routine, and with 45 million global members the YMCA still has appeal. I don't think many people will make the links to its Christian roots (I'm guessing this is one of the reasons for the rebrand). Perhaps the change to Y taps better into youth culture. For years it has been know as 'The Y' in US sitcoms, such as Friends, and more recently in the film Grown Ups.

On balance, this is a defiant and bold move, which has grown on me the more I consider it. The charity should ensure that the links with its heritage are maintained, which will make the rebrand easier (and protect the charity from having to rebrand back to YMCA in five years' time).

Creativity: 4
Delivery: 2
Total: 6 out of 10

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