People tend to have feelings about the YMCA. Good, bad or indifferent, the Y brand makes us feel something, likely because we have all had an interaction with one of their camps, swimming pools or treadmills at some point in our lives. But these feelings are subject to the will of our memory, our last interaction, or an outdated preconception of what the brand YMCA actually represents.
The YMCA of Hamilton, Burlington, and Brantford knew this when they entered our offices in 2012 to begin the conversation around a strategic campaign. The challenge was to increase awareness of the variety of YMCA services in their communities, while also creating a campaign theme that all staff, in diverse locations and roles, could rally around.
We sat down with the general public and asked what they thought of the YMCAHBB. We began a large scale member survey to gauge their perception of the Y, learned what they value and how the YMCA could help deliver on that promise. And what we heard was their audience knew all about the camping and swimming pools and treadmills, but very little else.
Functioning as a statement, a question for engagement and a declaration of ownership over the variety of social initiatives the YMCA works towards, we developed “Y. We Are Here” as the basis for this multi-pronged campaign. Through the tagline’s use in marketing materials, experiential pieces, and social engagement with the hashtag #YWeAreHere, it has created a dialogue within its user groups and created a clear baseline for messaging about the YMCA’s role in the community.
While consistent message and branding are incredibly important, the implementation of tools that enhance the brand experience is often what is most impactful. To compliment the marketing initiative, a branded microsite YWeAreHere.ca functions as a dynamic space for initiative related information, events, and program launches. With built-in social media integration, the conversation literally continued on the microsite with real-time interactions using the #YWeAreHere hashtag.
The microsite transitioned to its second iteration with the release of the first Canadian YMCA app. We are incredibly proud to have worked with the YMCAHBB to create this product, which is available for Android and iOS devices. Through engagement with the YMCA’s primary audiences, we’ve built in unique features such as an in-App membership card, personal scheduling and program check-in.
By creating a campaign that lives on in experiences such as the children’s play area during Supercrawl 2015, during donor appreciation events, and other touch points that both engage and motivate, the organization has been able to clearly communicate their messages, align their programming with greater social values, and continue to drive positive change and interact with their communities in a whole new way.