I get emails and newsletters from the local YWCA and have noticed that none of these correspondence ever mention anything about “Christian” principals or values. I went to my local YWCA web site and entered the word “Christian” in the search box, and got “0 (zero) responses for my search request. Not one mention of the word Christ or Christian on their web site. My guess at this point is that they must not align themselves with Christian principles anymore. Maybe they never have, I don’t know. I can’t find anywhere on their web site that defines what their acronym stands for. I only mention this is because of my familiarity with the YMCA whose mission is “to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build health spirit, mind and body for all.” I would only assume that the difference would be in regards to the different genders—but I don’t want to assume. (That is why I am asking you.)
Anyway, I am aware of their new branding campaign (aka—enhance your donations campaign). It was created by Landor which is a very successful branding company with locations in 21 different countries. Wow! They work with some big clients and have some great solutions, but I have to say, I am not a fan of this one. I read their case history for this client and it stated they were asked to help create a new identity that would more effectively communicate the organizations mission. This case study also stated, “that the new signature features YWCA in bold lowercase letters and places the mission above the YWCA in the same typestyle, tying the name of the organization directly to its mission.” And I don’t want to forget to mention that Landor also states that the color (orange) is “engaging, warm, and welcoming.” From my perspective I think it is about as nondescript as the acronym it doesn’t stand for.
I did find an article by a lady named Barbara J. Nelson, about the YWCA’s mission expansion and the origins of the Y’s anti-racism campaign. Pretty interesting. Apparently, the Y did have Christian roots, but changed focus when the organization shifted from putting Christian values into social action—to a focus based solely on the need to eliminate racism. The thrust of this mission expansion became realized in 1970 through a resolution called “One Imperative” which was the pre-convention product of a Conference of 500 black women of the YWCA, that emphasized the elimination of racism over all other priorities of the YWCA.
On a personal note—sure, I hate to see that the YWCA has dropped their Christian affiliation. But on a professional note, I just wonder why one of the world’s leading branding firms would not address the name of the YWCA in it’s recent rebrand (especially since they were charged to create a new identity). After reading this article by Barbara Nelson, I see this shift in focus has been brewing since the early 1900’s. The recent rebrand would have provided for a great time to re-work the identity (and possibly the name) to align better with the overall emphasis and focus of the organization. My guess is that the money-stick prevailed once again over the principal-stick, because the client and the design firm decided that the brand recognition and value was too great to risk a change. I would hope that wasn’t the case, but if I were a betting man, I wouldn’t bet against it.
If KFC stopped selling chicken—people would know, and people would talk. If Burger King quit making burgers—people would know and people would talk. If the United Negro College Fund, would give scholarships to rich white kids—people would know and people would talk. So how can an organization that has 25 million members in 122 countries drop such an important word from its association without anybody knowing about it, and anybody talking about it?
I guess Landor has done a great job. I am sure that they knew—and sure that the talked…about the dollars at stake and the stink they would cause if they would pull “Christian” from the name. Even though I believe the YWCA does a lot of great things in our community and around the world, I certainly don’t think they stand for their brand. You either go with Christ or you don’t. If Burger King didn’t offer burgers anymore, would they still be Burger King? There is no in between. (That is unless you are a democrat or republican—I think they both stand for everything.)
Anyway, I don’t have anything against the YWCA. I am all for helping others. However, if they are getting donations and memberships under the guise of a “Christian Association” (which is inferred by their identity/acronym and corporate history)—I would have a problem with this.