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Episode 4: The Y of Metro Chicago’s New Membership Campaign with Brandon Davis


Welcome to Community Voices, a platform for voices of the community recreation industry. 

In Episode 4 of the Community Rec Magazine Podcast, Brandon Davis – formerly the senior director of brand strategy and marketing – and currently the vice president of brand engagement, at the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago, shares about the Y’s new playful membership campaign, “You Already Belong.” We discuss his journey to the Chicago Y, working with president and CEO Dorri McWhorter, his passion for all things marketing and dive into the new campaign in the areas of brand approach centered around play, fun personas, signage placement, and much more.

Show Notes

  • Understanding the benefits of marketing as an essential function. Davis elaborated marketing is more than colors and logos, it’s understanding the marketplace and what the marketplace needs and delivering on the promise you gave. Additionally, it’s not viewing marketing as a cost center, but rather an area to generate and support revenue.
  • Davis shared the intent behind the Chicago Y’s new membership campaign called, “You Already Belong” and shared some of the imagery being utilized. “Everyone is a member at the YMCA of Metro Chicago, not just a paying member but anyone in our community,” he said.
  •  Persona examples included, pickle ballers, namaste newbies, swole grandpas, calm seekers, buzzer beaters and free style lappers.
  • Additional messaging utilized in the brand strategy include “Proud to be the official gym of officially everyone,” and “We’re not your grandparents YMCA, but we totally could have been.”
  • “There’s something for everyone at the YMCA Metro Chicago,” said Davis. “So for us, ‘You Already Belong’ and creating these personas are not just marketing personas, but truly identifiers for people to feel like they are already a part of something felt so natural with the way we are heading in our brand platform. And I think that really is akin to what people want to see and the way they want to feel when they come to the Y.”
  • Davis shared a snippet of the manifesto behind the Chicago Y’s brand strategy: “Answer me this. What makes us happy? What brings us joy? You only get one answer, you only get one word. Tough. You say it’s different for each of us. But there’s one thing we all do to raise our hearts, our heads and our eyebrows and make our smiles wide. We play. No matter how we do it, we play because if it brings us joy, it is play. And that’s why at the YMCA of Metro Chicago, we believe in the power of play. Because play brings about endless possibilities that leads to progress. So for us, the membership, the personas, everything we do all relates back to that very simple, yet very important concept, the power of play.”

Listen where you like: Subscribe to the Community Rec Magazine Podcast on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud and Spotify

Brittany Howard

Brittany is the editor of Community Rec Magazine. Reach her at brittany@peakemedia.com.

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