YMCA Now Just ‘the Y’

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The YMCA is giving up its full name, Young Men's Christian Association, as well as its common abbreviation YMCA for an even simpler name, "the Y."

While the Village People song isn’t expected to undergo a name change, the Y insists that the rebranding is for the best, the non-profit suggested in a statement. The announcement comes 43 years after it first abbreviated its name to YMCA, likely for the same reason.

“We are changing how we talk about ourselves so that people better understand the benefits of engaging with the Y,” said Kate Coleman, chief marketing officer of YMCA of the USA. “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 neighbors and the larger community.” In other words, its efforts aren’t limited to young Christian men.

Since the days of being exclusively for Christian young men, the Y has been offering people of all ages and denominations a place to exercise at facilities housing gyms and swimming pools, and they’ve also been helping Americans secure temporary housing, giving communities access affordable fresh produce and providing free assistance for people suffering from chronic diseases.

But the Y isn’t the first company to decide that shorter is better. Similarly, AT&T, which stood for American Telephone and Telegraph Corp. (Stock Quote: T), doesn’t do much telegraphing these days and NPR, National Public Radio until recently, now does a bit more than just radio.

The AARP no longer stands for the American Association of Retired Persons. They made the change in 1999, admitting that about half of the seniors who were members of the group weren't actually retired, The New York Times reports.

3M (Stock Quote: MMM) once stood for Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, which was founded in 1902. That changed in 2002. By then, most of its well-known products including Scotch Tape and Post-It notes had nothing to do with mining.

And Kentucky Fried Chicken changed its name to KFC (Stock Quote: YUM) in 1991 because the company didn't want to be associated with the negative health effects of fried foods. (Evidently, that was before the infamous Double Down made its way to the chain's restaurants.)

These name changes aren’t proven to make a company look better, however.  After KFC changed its name, rumors milled that the food the chain served was no longer real chicken.

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