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YMCA’s New Colors

I have been able to stick to my 2013 goal of investing time weekly in my fitness and health. Only in the last couple of weeks have I become aware of our local YMCA’s recent transformation.

Lying on my back stretching in the hall, I noticed their new use of basic colors and associated words to signify their values. Going to their website, I confirmed that the selection of these colors was not arbitrary.

Yellow = Respect. Yellow refers to the Golden Rule which is to treat others as you would like to be treated.

Blue = Honesty.  Blue refers to the term ‘True Blue’ and being true to what you believe and honest with each other.

Green = Responsibility. Green refers to the environment they work in and being aware and responsible. If you see trash on the floor, pick it up. If you see a customer in need, help them.

Red = Caring. Red refers to the heart and caring for other living things.

These values are so easy to remember for three main reasons. First, the YMCA prioritized the list to the top four items and didn’t make it ten, which would be harder for someone to remember. On average, humans can best remember a list of five items or less.

YMCA 016

Second, there is a visual component with the use of colors that all human beings understand and have used and interacted with since childhood. Studies have shown that we are 70% more likely to remember things that have a visual element versus just text.    

Third, the stories attached to the colors are very familiar.  For most, very little, if anything at all, needs to be further explained when the term ‘True Blue’ is used.

YMCA Post 3-13There are other examples of the YMCA using the colors. The picnic tables out back for the after school program are painted in those colors. There are color posters on the walls throughout the facility to explain the values. And the shirts that the staff wear – the picture shows Kristen wearing responsibility (green) one day and honesty (blue) on another day.

Are your values this concise and easy to remember? If you don’t know, ask your employees. Their responses will tell you everything.

Five Star Rating

For prioritizing a list to less than five items, the use of visually stimulating colors, and the familiar stories it has attached to the values, the YMCA receives a five-star Symblicity rating.

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