In Kentucky, there is no dedicated school of art. Universities have art departments, but there is no standalone art school. The Kentucky College of Art and Design was established to address this need. It serves the passionate, creative young people who are all over Kentucky and the surrounding region – providing an accessible, affordable, and life-changing opportunity.
KyCAD was started by a small but decisive group of people, working under the accreditation of Louisville’s Spalding University to gain traction. In essence, they were renegades. They threw together their initial branding in an effort to get things off the ground. When they were graduating their very first class four years after their establishment, they engaged us to rethink their branding in order to reflect how their mission had grown.
Creativity drives the curriculum and sensibility at KyCAD. They needed an identity that they could make their own, something flexible to work alongside the diversity of work they create, and something that their staff, professors, and students could rally behind.
We wanted to engage the students to learn more about this place. So we set up butcher paper snaking around the walls of their main staircase and wrote questions for them to consider. About KyCAD, about themselves, about why they were drawn here. We got some incredible responses, including – of course – a handful of inspired doodles. The experiment in and of itself informed our intention for the identity. This needed to be something that would inspire the students to adopt it and adapt it for their own work. And we drew another conclusion from the experiment: This identity needed to speak to the self discovery happening in this space.
Discover Art, Discover Yourself
Our identity demonstrates this revolutionary sensibility rooted in a practical foundation. The central mark starts with that foundation and builds out. Its main motif borrows from the school’s mission statement:
“We open the door to a creative and rewarding life through higher education in the visual arts.”
Used on its own, framing student work, or applied by hand – this mark is multivarious and dynamic. The colors are unexpected and energetic. And the language is confident. In short, this identity reflects the personalities of those drawn to this unique place.
It has been adopted and championed by students, faculty, and staff. “We held a silk screening event where [students] printed the mark on clothes and bags,” Associate Professor Laurie Fader reports. It shows up in their art – the clearest indication of its success.
Director of Institutional Advancement Meghan Caplan reports that since the rebrand, they have grown their program to 130 students. The new branding appeals to prospective students. “Parents and students are looking for a more professional look and feel and with our new branding we fit that bill.”
They have also attracted new faculty members, doubling the size of their faculty from 7 to 13. “Part of our ability to recruit nationally has been the faculty’s confidence in the legitimacy of our project – our new brand, name and website gave them that initial confidence when they researched coming to KyCAD.”
In 2017, this project won a Gold Transform Award for identity in the education sector.