Monday, July 12, 2010

A "B" about the "Y"

 photo courtesy of JPPI, via morguefile

(a Blog about the YMCA)

Today, I read this NY Times article online, about the YMCA "re-branding" itself as "the Y".
YMCA rebrands itself as "the Y"

“It’s a way of being warmer, more genuine, more welcoming, when you call yourself what everyone else calls you,” said Kate Coleman, the organization’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer.

First, while I am no marketing expert, I do understand the need to rebrand a product or company in order to remain current. The benefits of rebranding are numerous, or can be.

At the same time, rebranding can also mean a step away from the original intent. I think the comment by Coleman quoted above is a bit ridiculous.  I realize I am probably thinking about this from the ontological and existential perspectives, and not from any business model.

Names have meaning. They convey what something means or who someone is. Why do you think parents usually work so hard to name a new child? Because names have meaning. Now, obviously you can have three men all called Bob, and they would not be the same person, but the name still has meaning - an identity.

The YMCA is an abbreviation of the Young Men's Christian Association. That is a name with meaning. Maybe the meaning has worn away, but to think that one letter is a better description of  the group is silly. How is the letter "Y" warmer? "More genuine"? "More welcoming?" I guess if you are scared of Christians, maybe. Or young men. But that is the group's origin, and to try to hide it is like so many other things today - afraid to offend anyone for any reason.

Kentucky Fried Chicken has become KFC. This is more "warm", I suppose. You can toss it around with less syllables, or tweet it much more quickly. Does it mean the identity changed? It does not change the fact that it is still a restaurant that serves fried, unhealthy food, but it does mean the company does not want you to think about the word "fried" so much. Stealthy eh? (not to say I do not get some mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans, and chicken strips from time to time!)

We often "rebrand" our family members' names on our blogs and website. But it is for safety reasons, not in order to make our family 'warmer'.

Not that all name-changing is bad, or all rebranding stupid. But, really? "It’s a way of being warmer, more genuine, more welcoming, when you call yourself what everyone else calls you"???

Well, in that case, my name is no longer Christine, but Mom. Or more like, "Moooooooooooommmmmmm".

My husband will be "Honey.
All three of my boys will be "Hey, you!" Well, the 12-yr-old may have another name, but I do not know if I trust his middle school friends to come up with it. It will probably be "Doofus" or "Slim" or something far worse.

And the Mad Toddler - well, let's change his name on the birth certificate, then.

Shall we take polls to find out what the majority of people call us, so we can come to some consensus, change our names, and make all around us feel more welcome, so we can convey a warmer image.

 Of course, it is all Shakespeare's fault. He was the original proponent of rebranding.

'Tis but thy name that is my enemy:
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? It is nor hand nor foot,
Nor arm nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O be some other name!
What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet;

So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
and for thy name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.

Thanks a lot, Shakespeare. Or should I say "Bill"! 

photo coutesy of  morguefile

(please realize I am writing this while listening to my 12-yr-old tell me a joke about 3 guys named Shut-Up, Manners, and Poop (more rebranding???), while my toddler babbles about the kitty cat on my lap and demanding "Bab de Bill-er" - that would be "Bob the Builder", clearly rebranded to be more welcoming to a 2-yr-old. It is hardly a well-thought out work, and not entirely serious.)

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