We don't prepare for the future. We create it.


Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities




Adam Brown
Ghost on Third
Mason Dyer (Client
Dr. OJ Oleka (Client)
Krista Hudson (Client)
Carol Juett (Client)


Research & Insight
Discovery Workshop
Brand Positioning
Category Definition
Competitor Review
Culture & Engagement
Visual Identity + Logo Systems
Key Messaging
Brand Style Guidelines


Silver ADDY //  American Advertising Awards (Lexington)


Can eighteen independent colleges identify as one?

Kentucky’s 18 independent colleges and universities share one trait in common: they're each fiercely devoted to their own way of making the world better.

While each college and university approaches its role in higher education differently, there exist challenges that are best faced together. That's where the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities (AIKCU: pronounced “eye-cue”) comes in. Established in 1952, a new president with an expanded mission needed to signal to the world that AIKCU was investing in its membership deeper than ever before.

AIKCU knew it could be more than a hub for government advocacy, collective cost savings, and professional development for their campus communities. It could bring a common purpose to the state's most independent higher education institutions.

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Don't lead from the top, support from below.

When nothing seems to unite from within, it's often best to look outward. What exists beyond our ability to control? What is the existential threat that, when viewed through a wider lens, reveals alignment?

In higher education, the answer is easy. With rising costs and new alternatives displacing traditional campus experiences, small private liberal arts colleges have a case to make. Regardless of the approach, the intent is the same: to combine empathetic curiosity and diverse perspectives. It's what enables the Commonwealth’s brightest minds to think about tomorrow with a proactive (rather than reactive) mindset. AIKCU's statement of value was clear:

"We don't prepare for the future. We create it."

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Uniquely united.

AIKCU’s new logo is a reflection of its independent membership. Each of the 18 individual college and university members are represented at 20º angles, collectively establishing a new symbol through proximity — their shared goals. In effect, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

The trajectory of each ray moves outward, signifying change, and lighting a path forward. But they also draw focus to the center, their shared purpose. While AIKCU still organizes the important work of government advocacy and collective cost savings, it's identity is rooted in something deeper. The association's mission is to support each of its member institutions in the fulfillment of their missions — to help each college and university light its own way.

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