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As the founding movement within the YMCA family, YMCA England & Wales relies on the Widen Collective® to set a positive example for YMCAs around the globe and deliver a consistent brand across its 101 local YMCAs and over 90 charity shops.
YMCA England & Wales is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating communities where all young people can belong, contribute, and thrive. Each of its 101 local YMCAs and 90 charity shops across England and Wales share this mission. Yet, the majority of locations struggled to present a consistent brand across marketing initiatives.
“The YMCAs looked as if they were working in silos,” said Palmer Hestley, the former Senior Officer of Brand and Marketing at YMCA England & Wales. “Nothing was consistently done. People were using clip art; they were using different types of photography. It certainly didn’t make our brand look very consistent, and it was hurting us quite a bit.”
The root of the problem was layered and complex. Professional-looking and on-brand marketing materials and digital assets existed within the organization, but nobody could find them in a maze of shared folders. Further, without in-house designers in many locations, staff was often left to their own devices to customize communications and marketing collateral for their unique audiences, events, and efforts. Something had to change — fast.
Ensure that brand standards and consistency are upheld across locations.
Centralize brand assets in one searchable location, so they are easy to find.
Empower non-designers to create professional, on-brand marketing materials.
Make it easy to customize marketing materials for local audiences.
One central, searchable library
Eager for change, YMCA England & Wales decided it was time for a digital asset management (DAM) solution. And in the spring of 2018, they brought on the Widen Collective. The Collective now stores and catalogs all of their photos, images, videos, and other digital assets in an organized file library. Users can quickly and easily search to find or discover assets and content based on very specific parameters, such as gender, age, mood, activity, and more.
A people-empowerment tool
Each YMCA location has its own events, initiatives, and communication needs. Using Templates, a design tool within the Collective, anyone (designer or not) can adapt brand-approved flyers, social media images, brochures, and other collateral to meet the needs of their specific location.
Local YMCA events, for example, are a popular use case. “I now have a tool that I can use to create all of these materials, create an editable portion so that they [YMCA staff] can change the date and location — but the rest of it is completely aligned with the event structure and the brand that goes along with it,” Palmer explained.
A partner, not a service
To combat branding inconsistencies and live up to their reputation as a leading YMCA movement, YMCA England & Wales knew they needed more than just a DAM platform. They needed a partner who was just as invested in their success as they were. “It was more of a partnership than us paying for a service, which of course in the long-run is going to serve you better,” said Palmer about Widen. “Clearly we’ve made the right choice.”
“Having a digital asset management system enables us to maintain our brand across each of our channels.”
Senior Officer of Brand and Marketing at YMCA England & Wales
“Having a digital asset management system enables us to maintain our brand across each of our channels so that when someone sees a flyer or video from YMCA they know which organization that is and they know what that organization stands for,” Palmer shared.
YMCA England & Wales now has a tool that empowers staff to customize materials for their locality, without jeopardizing the consistency, quality, and professionalism of the brand. “It’s still people doing these [localized] designs that aren’t designers. And it’s still people that are doing these designs that may not even be communications experts,” Palmer noted. There’s no longer such a risk with having local YMCA staff create their own materials.
Policing the brand is incredibly time-consuming for Palmer and team. The Collective ensures that YMCA England & Wales can work more efficiently. “It helps us as communications professionals that we don’t always have to feel like we need to be looking at everybody’s work,” Palmer said. “We’re comfortable in knowing that the materials that are being produced are on brand.”
“We are the founding movement, so whether we like it or not, YMCAs across the globe are going to look to us and see how we are doing things,” Palmer reiterated. Thanks to the Collective, YMCA Wales & England can set a positive brand example for YMCAs near and far.