Rebranding the YMCA

Originally posted by Rachael Steven, 17 November 2014,

No longer catering exclusively to the young, male, or Christian, the YMCA unsurprisingly faced problems in communicating what it stood for.ArthurSteenHorneAdamson has developed a new brand identity which aims to better reflect the breadth of the charity’s work in England – we spoke to ASHA’s Marksteen Adamson about the project…

Founded 170 years ago, YMCA is one of the UK’s oldest and best-known charities. Lately, however, it’s been going through a bit of an identity crisis.

While still based on Christian values, the charity no longer caters exclusively to men, Christians or young people. It now has thousands of centres in 119 countries and helps over 50 million people but as its reach has increased, so too has a lack of awareness about what it does.

In 2010, the US YMCA aimed to address this by renaming itself The Y, launching a new logo and strapline which identified three key areas of work: youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.

The name was in part introduced to keep up with the times – apparently, most people using the service in the US referred to it as The Y – but also to address “public confusion” over its role and activities.

“We are simplifying how we describe the programs we offer so that it is immediately apparent that everything we do is designed to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve health and well-being and support our neighbours and the larger community,” the charity’s chief marketing officer told the BBC.

In the UK, the charity has been experiencing a similar problem. In an article announcing the rebrand, Alan Fraser, CEO of YMCA Birmingham and chair of the charity’s brand implementation group, said that while it ranked highly in terms of brand recognition, it was in the bottom 10 percent of UK charities in terms of awareness.

With YMCA centres now offering crèche and leisure facilities, training and education programmes and accommodation for all ages, its name no longer reflected the breadth of its work. As each of the 114 centres in the UK are run independently, there was also a lack of consistency in branding, communications and facilities.

To address this, the charity commissioned ArthurSteenHorneAdamson to reposition the YMCA and design an identity system to be used by all YMCA centres. The rebrand groups the charity’s work into five core areas: support and advice, accommodation, family work, health and wellbeing and training and education.

The original acronym has been retained but is accompanied by a less youth-focussed mission statement, which says the YMCA “enables people to develop their full potential in mind, body and spirit.”

The new visual identity includes a more modern geometric logo, a bold colour palette with a designated shade for each area of work and a triangular system applied to merchandise, literature and the charity’s website.

When working on the project, Marksteen Adamson, founding partner at ASHA, says the first task was to define “a core set of values” that underpinned the YMCA’s work.

“The YMCA does some fantastic work, but there was a lack of clarity around what it stood for,” he explains. “Although youth is very high on its agenda, it caters to all ages, and the idea of it being for just young people and Christians was no longer relevant. It was also struggling to categorise the hundreds of activities offered by different centres…and there was a lot of inconsistency in logos, signage and campaigns,” he says.

“The new mission statement references the YMCA’s Christian values but makes it clear that it’s not a church organisation – it’s there for the whole community and doesn’t discriminate.”

The new logo is drawn on a triangular grid, a nod to the triangle in the YMCA’s previous branding and Adamson says it was tested on both YMCA representatives and members of the public in Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, London and Cheltenham.

“We created three different marques: one which was quite safe, another which was a little more dynamic, and a third (the logo now in use), which felt a lot more ‘future friendly’ in terms of how it could be applied to different things,” he explains.

“We then presented all of our ideas to people on the street, from teens to parents and kids, asking what people thought of them and eliminating the designs they didn’t like. If people in the street said they would buy a hoodie with it on, we felt that was a good measure of whether it was right,” he adds.

The new logo has a much more youth-orientated feel than the YMCA’s old marque, particularly when used on hoodies and signage, but for corporate presentations, ties and pin badges, it appears in a more sombre grey.

Triangular patterns are also used on stationery and communications, while singular triangles act as “a pointing device” on imagery promoting each of the five key areas of service:

When choosing colours for each core area, Adamson says it was important that they felt fresh, contemporary and appropriate for each service. “We didn’t feel pastel would be right for [the YMCA], or anything too bright, such as primary colours, which would feel too young. For health and wellbeing, for example, green was a natural choice, while a clean blue worked well for accommodation,” says Adamson.

So far, 34 YMCAs in England have signed up to the new brand. It’s also being rolled out across YMCA stores and the charity expects it will be adopted by more centres over the next few months. Adamson says the initial response has been “overwhelmingly positive,” adding: “everyone agrees it feels a lot more trendy and up to date – especially the people who live and work here.”

Commenting on the identity, Fraser says that “for the first time, YMCA will be communicating a clear message about what YMCA is and what it is we do, not just on a local level, but as a national federation.”

“Many people are worried about charities wasting their money on things as ephemeral as branding.  But it is clear that how we communicate to people has as big an impact, and perhaps an even bigger one, than the factual content of our message,” he explains.

Adamson says the rebrand is also designed to help the YMCA save money on designing communications: each centre’s website will run on the same WordPress theme and staff will be given downloadable templates for newsletters, leaflets and presentations. “It should be useful when creating joint pitches too, as centres often team up to secure funding,” he adds.

As well as raising awareness of the YMCA’s services in local communities, the new identity should help the charity launch more effective national campaigns. That jagged logo won’t appeal to everyone but the new system is a considerable improvement on the old branding, and makes a much clearer statement about what the YMCA does, who it helps and what it stands for.

“This will help people who might benefit from our services – or who might want to support our services – to understand us better and make an informed choice.  But it will also help us increase the strength of our voice when we lobby for change on behalf of young people,” says Fraser.

Ex Machina – Meet AVA

EX MACHINA Official Trailer (2015) [HD]

Subscribe HERE for NEW movie trailers ➤ Ex Machina – Official Trailer (2015) A young programmer is selected to participate in a breakthrough experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breathtaking female A.I.

Very excited by this trailer from director Alex Garland (28 Days, Dredd, Sunshine, The Beach). Based on the comic book series created by Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris.

7 Tech Logos Before They Became Iconic

Logos are an essential part of a brand’s identity. A great logo encapsulates the personality and promise of the business behind it.

Some of the world’s most ubiquitous logos had humble beginnings. In 1975, Carolyn Davidson was paid $35 to develop the Nike logo and the “Swoosh” we’ve come to recognize has remained more or less intact for nearly forty years.

Meanwhile, Pepsi paid the Arnell Group $1 million to develop its updated logo in 2008. There are companies who’ve paid tens of millions for logo design.

But what of iconic tech logos? Surely Apple’s logo—that sleek, silver symbol of global innovation—came into the world fully formed. As it turns out, tech logos often have long, dark histories of their own, and we’ve highlighted a few famous examples.


The first Apple logo, unveiled in 1976, looks like something lifted from the pages of a 17th century manuscript:

 apple original logo 7 tech logos before they became iconic

That’s Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree, in case you’re wondering. The logo was initially inscribed with “Newton … A Mind Forever Voyaging Through Strange Seas of Thought … Alone.” That complicated premise was designed by Ronald Wayne, a founder of Apple, who relinquished his 10 percent stock in the company as an $800 payment for his logo. He left the company two weeks into his tenure.

Talk about simplifying a thing or two, huh?

Microsoftoriginal microsoft logo 7 tech logos before they became iconic

A year earlier, Microsoft’s logo at least looked like it belonged to the 20thcentury. It had the look and feel of the 1970s disco era, something that might appear in Boogie Nights, and emphasized that the company name was a union ofmicrocomputer and software. The earliest version of the business name was Micro-Soft.


Original IBM Logo 7 tech logos before they became iconicLong before Microsoft or Apple glimmered into view, IBM was a company known for its employee time-keeping systems, weight scales, meat slicers and punched-card tabulators. Established as International Time Recording Company in 1888, it changed its name in 1924 to International Business Machines, and the new era spawned a brave new logo.


first canon logo 7 tech logos before they became iconic

A decade later, in 1934, two Japanese inventors created a camera under the banner of the Precision Optical Instruments Laboratory. The camera was called the Kwanon, named after the Buddhist Bodhisattva of Mercy.

The logo included Kwanon encircled by flames and sporting a thousand arms. The inventors opted for the simplified name Canon when it came time to trademark the name.


logo motorola 7 tech logos before they became iconic

In 1930, the Chicago-based Galvin Manufacturing Corporation released the wildly popular Motorola car radio. The name was a mashup of “motor” and “ola,” a popular suffix for sound gear of the time, along the lines of the Victrola.

The new car radio was such a hit that founder Paul Galvin decided to change the company name to Motorola. The company’s product line clearly evolved through the years as well.


nokia original logo 7 tech logos before they became iconic

Thanks to its recent purchase by Microsoft, Nokia has been the subject of tech press in recent weeks. But, like IBM, it had its roots in the 19th century.

Knut Fredrik Idestam founded a wood-pulp mill in Finland and took the name of a nearby town. Nokia is also the Finnish word for a dark, furry weasel-like animal. The modern company was born when, in 1967, a merger occurred between Finnish Rubber Works, the Nokia Wood Mill and the Finnish Cable Works.

Eventually, the company would leave paper products and the weasel behind, embracing the world of telecommunications and cell phones.


xerox logo 7 tech logos before they became iconic

Xerox began in 1906 as the Haloid Company, a manufacturer of photographic paper and equipment. Twenty years later, Chester Carlson, an inventor of a process known as electrophotography, approached the company to see if they would invest in his new technology.

In 1959, the world’s first photocopier was released to the market—the Haloid Xerox 914. The copier was so successful that the company dropped Haloid from its name and never looked back. Well, at least not until the digital age of photography dawned, requiring a complete company overhaul… and of course, a new logo.

Video source missing

29 Ways To Stay Creative


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Montréal Comic Con 2014 – Cosplay Video

Love the cosplay crew… you guys rock!

Montréal Comic Con 2014 – Cosplay Music Video

Video filmed with a Canon 7D and a Flycam Nano and edited in Adobe Premiere and FX done with After Effects. Song: The Script – Superheroes Thanks so much to all the cosplay artists who agreed to be filmed for this and sorry for the ones who didn’t make it into the video.

The Scourge of Arial

Arial is everywhere. If you don’t know what it is, you don’t use a modern personal computer. Arial is a font that is familiar to anyone who uses Microsoft products, whether on a PC or a Mac. It has spread like a virus through the typographic landscape and illustrates the pervasiveness of Microsoft’s influence in the world.Arial’s ubiquity is not due to its beauty. It’s actually rather homely. Not that homeliness is necessarily a bad thing for a typeface. With typefaces, character and history are just as important. Arial, however, has a rather dubious history and not much character. In fact, Arial is little more than a shameless impostor.

Throughout the latter half of the twentieth century, one of the most popular typefaces in the western world was Helvetica. It was developed by the Haas Foundry of Switzerland in the 1950s. Later, Haas merged with Linotype and Helvetica was heavily promoted. More weights were added and it really began to catch on.

Helvetica specimen book, c. 1970.

An icon of the Swiss school of typography, Helvetica swept through the design world in the ’60s and became synonymous with modern, progressive, cosmopolitan attitudes. With its friendly, cheerful appearance and clean lines, it was universally embraced for a time by both the corporate and design worlds as a nearly perfect typeface to be used for anything and everything. “When in doubt, use Helvetica” was a common rule.

As it spread into the mainstream in the ’70s, many designers tired of it and moved on to other typographic fashions, but by then it had become a staple of everyday design and printing. So in the early ’80s when Adobe developed the PostScript page description language, it was no surprise that they chose Helvetica as one of the basic four fonts to be included with every PostScript interpreter they licensed (along with Times, Courier, and Symbol). Adobe licensed its fonts from the original foundries, demonstrating their respect and appreciation for the integrity of type, type foundries and designers. They perhaps realized that if they had used knock-offs of popular typefaces, the professional graphic arts industry—a key market—would not accept them.

By the late eighties, the desktop publishing phenomenon was in full swing. Led by the Macintosh and programs like PageMaker, and made possible by Adobe’s PostScript page description language, anyone could do near professional-quality typesetting on relatively inexpensive personal computers.

But there was a problem. There were two kinds of PostScript fonts: Type 1 and Type 3. Type 1 fonts included “hints” that improved the quality of output dramatically over Type 3 fonts. Adobe provided information on making Type 3 fonts, but kept the secrets of the superior Type 1 font technology to itself. If you wanted Type 1 fonts, Adobe was the only source. Anyone else who wanted to make or sell fonts had to settle for the inferior Type 3 format. Adobe wanted the high end of the market all to itself.

By 1989, a number of companies were hard at work trying to crack the Type 1 format or devise alternatives. Apple and Microsoft signed a cross-licensing agreement to create an alternative to Adobe’s technology. While Microsoft worked on TrueImage, a page description language, Apple developed the TrueType format. TrueType was a more open format and was compatible with—but not dependent on—PostScript. This effectively forced Adobe’s hand, causing them to release the secrets of the Type 1 format to save themselves from irrelevancy.

Around the same time, PostScript “clones” were being developed to compete with Adobe. These PostScript “work-alikes” were usually bundled with “look-alike” fonts, since the originals were owned by Adobe’s business partners. One PostScript clone, sold by Birmy, featured a Helvetica substitute developed by Monotype called Arial.

Arial appears to be a loose adaptation of Monotype’s venerable Grotesque series, redrawn to match the proportions and weight of Helvetica. At a glance, it looks like Helvetica, but up close it’s different in dozens of seemingly arbitrary ways. Because it matched Helvetica’s proportions, it was possible to automatically substitute Arial when Helvetica was specified in a document printed on a PostScript clone output device. To the untrained eye, the difference was hard to spot. (See “How to Spot Arial”) After all, most people would have trouble telling the difference between a serif and a sans serif typeface. But to an experienced designer, it was like asking for Jimmy Stewart and getting Rich Little.

What is really strange about Arial is that it appears that Monotype was uncomfortable about doing a direct copy of Helvetica. They could very easily have done that and gotten away with it. Many type manufacturers in the past have done knock-offs of Helvetica that were indistinguishable or nearly so. For better or worse, in many countries—particularly the U.S.—while typeface names can be protected legally, typeface designs themselves are difficult to protect. So, if you wanted to buy a typesetting machine and wanted the real Helvetica, you had to buy Linotype. If you opted to purchase Compugraphic, AM, or Alphatype typesetting equipment, you couldn’t get Helvetica. Instead you got Triumvirate, or Helios, or Megaron, or Newton, or whatever. Every typesetting manufacturer had its own Helvetica look-alike. It’s quite possible that most of the “Helvetica” seen in the ’70s was actually not Helvetica.

Now, Monotype was a respected type foundry with a glorious past and perhaps the idea of being associated with these “pirates” was unacceptable. So, instead, they found a loophole and devised an “original” design that just happens to share exactly the same proportions and weight as another typeface. (See “Monotype’s Other ‘Arials’”) This, to my mind, is almost worse than an outright copy. A copy, it could be said, pays homage (if not license fees) to the original by its very existence. Arial, on the other hand, pretends to be different. It says, in effect “I’m not Helvetica. I don’t even look like Helvetica!”, but gladly steps into the same shoes. In fact, it has no other role.


When Microsoft made TrueType the standard font format for Windows 3.1, they opted to go with Arial rather than Helvetica, probably because it was cheaper and they knew most people wouldn’t know (or even care about) the difference. Apple also standardized on TrueType at the same time, but went with Helvetica, not Arial, and paid Linotype’s license fee. Of course, Windows 3.1 was a big hit. Thus, Arial is now everywhere, a side effect of Windows’ success, born out of the desire to avoid paying license fees.

The situation today is that Arial has displaced Helvetica as the standard font in practically everything done by nonprofessionals in print, on television, and on the Web, where it’s become a standard font, mostly because of Microsoft bundling it with everything—even for Macs, which already come with Helvetica. This is not such a big deal since at the low resolution of a computer screen, it might as well be Helvetica. In any case, for fonts on the Web, Arial is one of the few choices available.

Despite its pervasiveness, a professional designer would rarely—at least for the moment—specify Arial. To professional designers, Arial is looked down on as a not-very-faithful imitation of a typeface that is no longer fashionable. It has what you might call a “low-end stigma.” The few cases that I have heard of where a designer has intentionally used Arial were because the client insisted on it. Why? The client wanted to be able to produce materials in-house that matched their corporate look and they already had Arial, because it’s included with Windows. True to its heritage, Arial gets chosen because it’s cheap, not because it’s a great typeface.

It’s been a very long time since I was actually a fan of Helvetica, but the fact is Helvetica became popular on its own merits. Arial owes its very existence to that success but is little more than a parasite—and it looks like it’s the kind that eventually destroys the host. I can almost hear young designers now saying, “Helvetica? That’s that font that looks kinda like Arial, right?”

This Is a Generic Brand Video

Yeah Advertising! You just fill me up with white fluffies (said in a rather ironic tone)

This Is a Generic Brand Video, by Dissolve

Winner of the 2015 Shorty Award for Best in B2B. Made entirely with stock footage from Dissolve. This Is a Generic Brand Video is a generic brand video of “This Is a Generic Brand Video,” written by Kendra Eash for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: License the clips used at The original piece is published on McSweeney’s: Narrated by Dallas McClain.

This Is a Generic Brand Video is a generic brand video of “This Is a Generic Brand Video,” written by Kendra Eash for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. No surprise, it’s made entirely with stock footage. All video clips used are from

Manuals 1. Design & Identity Guidelines.

Manuals 1. Design & Identity Guidelines.: “


This book is the first comprehensive study of corporate identity design manuals, and features 21 examples from the 1960s to early 1980s — the ‘golden era’ of identity design. The book includes manuals created for institutions and corporations such as NASA, Lufthansa and British Steel.

‘All of the manuals have been lovingly photographed, and presented in a spacious and functional layout, allowing the observer to fully appreciate these wonderful examples of information design at its best. Manuals 1 is printed in Italy, conforming to the highest production standards.’

Foreword by Massimo Vignelli and texts from Adrian Shaughnessy, NASA designer Richard Danne, Greg D’Onofrio and Patricia Belen (Display), Armin Vit (UnderConsideration), Sean Perkins (North) and John Lloyd.


Sarah Schrauwen, one of the book’s editors, talked to designboom.

‘We all thought that identity manuals from the 1960s to early 1980s would be a niche subject for a book, desired only by a certain kind of graphic design studio involved in identity design, and hardcore identity enthusiasts. Instead, Manuals 1 has turned out to be Unit Editions’ best selling publication so far!’








Jessica Walsh & Stefan Sagmeister

Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh the designer behind of 40 days of dating with Timothy Goodman talks about her work and process.

Jessica Walsh & Stefan Sagmeister _ The Creative Influence: Ep. 2 Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh the designer behind of 40 days of dating with Timothy Goodman talks about her work and process. Produced by Mario De Armas @mariodearmas1 and Sandbox Studio.

Link here for viewers having problems with Vimeo and Firefox.

Logorama the movie

The Logorama movie is a short animation by H5. It has been nominated won at the 2010 Oscars in the short film category.

In a world made up entirely of trademarks and brand names, Michelin Man cops pursue a criminal Ronald McDonald. All 16 minutes (taking an incredible six years to make) are shown in the embedded video below.


This is a short film that was directed by the French animation collective H5, François Alaux, Hervé de Crécy + Ludovic Houplain. It was presented at the Cannes Film Festival 2009. It opened the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and won a 2010 academy award under the category of animated short.

Link here for viewers having problems with Vimeo and Firefox.

A man with passion for what he does

Surf Photographer Clark Little – a man with passion for what he does.

Surf Photographer Clark Little on Staring Down Shorebreak to Get the Perfect Shot – The Inertia

Getting tossed around by shorebreak and slammed into the sand day after day is a rough go; Clark Little wouldn’t have it any other way. In fact, for the North Shore local, it’s all in a good day’s work. But the Waimea addict didn’t grow up snapping shots with his father’s camera like so many photographers do.