Best known as the Horse Capital of the World, Lexington, Kentucky is a booming city with a small population of less than half a million, a stable economy, a high degree of education, technology companies within, bourbon, the 28,000-plus-student University of Kentucky, and, yes, horses — Wikipedia explains that “Lexington has been known as a major center for Thoroughbred breeding since the late 18th century due to the high calcium content in the soils of the Inner Bluegrass Region, which leads to stronger bones and greater durability in horses.” In charge of promoting the city is the Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau that in 2009 began the effort of increasing the city’s brand presence with the help of Pentagram, who introduced the idea of Big Lex, a blue horse taken from a popular painting (shown below), as the city’s icon. Building on that project, Covington, KY-based BLDG has evolved the Big Lex into a formal identity that will anchor the name change of the Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau to VisitLEX.
We developed a new identity with the desire to create a cohesive look and feel that would make the brand instantly recognizable and bring the experience to life. The new name helps drive consistency and communicates the brand purpose in a strong, engaging and more approachable way.
This is an interesting project because it’s not a straightforward “design-me-something-cool” brief. Rather, it comes with a pre-existing big idea — Big Lex from Pentagram — two or three years of somewhat inconsistent use of it, with the additional identity of the Convention and Visitors Bureau also in play. I recommend taking a look at BLDG’s case study, as it helps paint the picture. Big Lex now comes in two flavors, painterly and flat, which gives the identity a good range of flexibility for multiple uses. As a logo, it’s not your typical city logo but it sure is memorable. Paired with a very unassuming sans serif, Big Lex does all the heavy lifting.
In application, a lovely serif has been added that gives all the applications a bourbon-esque air of sophistication that clashes (positively) with the deadpan expression of the big-ass, blue horse. Some tweedy patterns have been developed that also add a welcome flavor to the identity. And a moody use of photography paints the city as a place you want to be. Overall, a very tasteful and modestly playful identity.
Plans are in development for coming back to Europe in Spring of 2018 with the current top contender host city of Barcelona.