The Ys are a-changing

A familiar face is getting a new look.

For the first time in 43 years, the YMCA is changing its look and the way it refers to itself. The organization known as the YMCA is now referring to itself as the "Y" and is in the process of selecting a new logo.

"The YMCA of the Foothills is truly excited about the new brand strategy and the opportunity to engage more people in the areas of healthy living, social responsibility and youth development," said Kim Beattie, spokesperson for the YMCA of the Foothills. "There are many exciting changes taking place at the Y."

The YMCA is adopting the Y as its nickname to align with how it's commonly known. The goal is not to disassociate the organization with the word "Christian" in their title, Beattie said.

"The legal name is still the YMCA (Young Men's Christian Assn.)," Beattie said. "It's still our mission to put Christian values into practice."

The Crescenta-Cañada "Y" plans to unveil its new logo in early 2011. It is the seventh in the history of the parent organization. The Ys across the country will complete the rebranding over the next five years, Beattie said.

The new logo and brand strategy was unveiled at a National Press Club event on July 16. It took more than two years of analysis and research to decide to change the YMCA logo.

The focus is being put on "resources on three core areas: youth development, healthy living and social responsibility," according to a news release issued by the national organization. The updated logo has a multicolored, contemporary look.

"One of the things we found through our research is that the Y logo is one of the most recognized brands in the world," Beattie said. "But we had a lot of different answers when we asked people what the Y is. We are a nonprofit, cause-related organization that works to change lives. That message wasn't getting across. This will better tell the public who we are. It will attract members, donors and keep us moving forward."

The Y offers a wide variety of on-site and outreach programs to help families lead a healthier, more active lifestyle. The local Ys of the Foothills offer sport programs, summer camps, preschool, after-school programs and a variety of exercise classes, including senior wellness, aquatic, yoga and Pilates.

"This is a very important, exciting time for the Y," said Neil Nicoll, president and chief executive of USA YMCA. "For 160 years, we've focused on changing lives for the better. Our commitment to building greater awareness for the important work we do will enable us to expand our efforts and further strengthen communities across the country."

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