A better YMCA logo




The logo on the left above, with the bent black bar, was introduced in 1968 - the red triangle was introduced in 1891, the 3 sides represent spirit, mind, and body.

The identity on the right, introduced in 2010, reflects the public's reference to the YMCA simply as The Y. The bent bar forming an arrow is a nice touch for an entity that helps people grow and move forward, and the new mark has ample references and similarities to the former mark to ease the transition and education of the viewer.
However, the elements in the mark do not respect each other quite well enough. The YMCA text looks like an afterthought and the 'the' is too far away and not aligned or related to any other element, other than being in the same color. Setting 'the' in upper & lower case with the ascenders on the t and h do not reflect the continuity of the YMCA caps and the bands of color forming the Y.

Improved version
Below, the revised mark sets 'the' in all caps to form a band that also serves as the stem of the arrow, aligns 'THE' to the centerpoint of the arrow, moves the 'YMCA' so it is no longer blocking the forward motion of the arrow, and places the YMCA parallel to THE and tucks it inside the triangle. One can read 'The YMCA' or 'The Y'.



Watsonism: Figure out what's working in the piece - exploit that and minimize the rest.
What's working in the new Y logo is the Y also reading as an arrow. That should be exploited.
Lesson: Logos and all graphic design work should be concept-driven.
The concept, the big idea, should 'drive' the piece, directing and guiding all other design decisions. Every element should support the basic concept.

Side-by-side comparisons






A bit of Y history
The Young Men's Christian Association was founded in 1844, in London, England, by George Williams, a 23-year-old draper - a cloth and dry goods salesman. He founded the first YMCA in London with the purpose of "the improving of the spiritual condition of young men engaged in the drapery, embroidery, and other trades." At the time, the Industrial Revolution was still condemning many urban dwellers to poor working and living conditions. Like other industrialized cities of England, much of London was overrun with pickpockets, thieves, prostitutes, beggars, drunks, and destitute and abandoned children - conditions that Charles Dickens exposed in such novels as Oliver Twist and Hard Times.
Williams and some fellow drapers sought to alleviate the gloom of the working class by providing Christian fellowship, prayer, and bible study as an alternative to the squalor of the streets. Their efforts were very successful, and the movement quickly spread. By 1851, the movement had spread to North America, first to Canada, and then to the US, where a YMCA was founded in Boston.
James Naismith, a Canadian, invented basketball while at the YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts. Naismith had been asked to invent a new game to interest young people in physical exercise. The game had to be interesting, easy to learn, and easy to play indoors in winter. In 1895, William Morgan from the YMCA of Holyoke, Massachusetts, invented the sport of volleyball as a slower paced alternative sport, in which the older Y members could participate.
The prestigious New York YMCA had proclaimed a fourfold mission: 'The improvement of the spiritual, mental, social, and physical condition of young men.' By the end of the 1800s, the fourfold purpose had been revamped into a triangle: spirit, mind, and body.

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