1985 marked the dawn of a new age for Coca-Cola. New Coke was launched. New Coke had a sweeter taste and was supposed to compete better with Pepsi so it was replacing the old Coke. But consumers revolted, the press that Coca-Cola received was horrible, and a couple of months after the launch the old Coke was back relabeled as Coca-Cola Classic. The new Coke later was renamed Coke II and is now no longer available. Coca-Cola’s official retelling of the story has a little spin on it. The company tells of taking a huge risk then recovering quickly when the risk didn’t pan out. Anyone else would probably say it was a bad marketing decision, and fortunately for Coca-Cola, consumers voiced their opinions loudly enough that Coca-Cola’s management reversed the bad decision.
Coca-Cola felt they had to do something because they were losing market share and the overall market for cola was flat at best. So are we to assume that a similar situation exists for the YMCA? The logo was changed according to Kate Coleman senior vice president and chief marketing officer of the YMCA of the USA because the YMCA “…believes that the former logo did not create enough attention. So, the new brand was created in order for people to better understand the organization’s mission and its history.” A small group of Facebookers started the Don’t Change the YMCA Logo rally, but it doesn’t appear that it gained much speed.
Most of the people that are protesting the name change fear that it is an indication that the YMCA is no longer going to support Christian values. Numerous articles tell this side of the story including this WSJ article titled “The C Should Stay in the YMCA“. So why would the logo, the brand need to change? Cone, a brand marketing company publishes The Cone Nonprofit Power Brand 100 Report and in 2009 listed the YMCA as the most valuable nonprofit brand and ranked the YMCA 6th in brand image out of 100 nonprofits.
YMCA members are torn between the old and the new based on conversations I’ve had. Most are like me and don’t consider it an assault on Christian beliefs but are concerned that it demonstrates a different budgeting priority than we want to see. I want the pool to be clean, the treadmills and other equipment to work, and most importantly the YMCA staff and programs to be safe and enjoyable for my kids. I didn’t have a problem with the old logo, but I also liked the old Coke. I hope the new Y is just a logo change and not a new sweeter taste.