“It wasn't that we changed what we did. We re-framed what we did in a language that resonated with people. One was internally driven. This was a message we want to push out. The second was what we're all about, but articulated in ways that people could understand and respond to.”
 - Kate Coleman, VP/Chief Strategy and Advancement Officer, YMCA

The Impact of Rebranding on the YMCA with Kate Coleman

Session 82

For a large national organization with hundreds of branches like the YMCA, it can be difficult to provide a standardized service across the board. This is the challenge Kate Coleman had when tackling the YMCA’s rebranding project. After thorough research, her team determined that YMCAs across the nation were too fragmented, from the logos they used to the programs they provided. It thus became their goal to unite all their branches under their three main goals: youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility; this became their “brand promise.” Kate emphasized rebranding didn’t change what they did, but rather focused it around a goal. They also made a point to create a visual system to be sure that every deliverable they put forward matched the personality of the organization. It’s not an authoritative approach, however – rather than put out mandates, Kate engages branches in a creative discussion when they are creating new programs.

Kate and Beth discuss:

  • The differences between a brand promise and an organization’s cause
  • How to differentiate between branding and positioning
  • When it is and isn’t appropriate to start a logo change
  • How a visual audit can help see what your supporters see
  • How to get employees to buy in to rebranding efforts


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