Responses by Denise Burke, project manager; Stephanie Ciccone, design lead; Craig Lennie, content lead; and Isaiah Same, design director, Accomplice.
Background: “The Kentucky Road (TKR) gives a voice to the vision of how the University of Kentucky (UK) is helping student athletes to reach their fullest potential, on and off the field,” says Same. “UK has a truly inspiring approach to developing its students in much deeper ways. The intent of this platform—and why it is really a first-of-its-kind experience—is to bring to life the ways in which UK is caring for, building up and equipping its student athletes. The Kentucky Road begins here and lasts a lifetime.”
“The site is the first touchpoint for UK’s new student-athlete development initiative,” adds Lennie. “To create this experience, we first had to develop the brand system for the program, leveraging the existing UK site, UK Athletics and individual sports branding to create a unified vision. The brand and system will continue to be implemented and expanded upon in the future through specific targeted campaigns and as a foundational component of UK’s outreach to prospective student athletes, both digitally and on campus.”
Design core: “The TKR brand was the first core point,” says Ciccone. “We wanted to establish an aesthetic that utilized UK’s main branding colors while also developing a unique appearance that encompassed sports and emotion. We nodded to field lines by utilizing vertical- and horizontal-line elements throughout the site, paired with a bold and condensed typeface, additional visual elements like the checker pattern, and a dark interface for top-level pages. We contrasted this darker athletic look with photography that conveyed an array of emotions and camaraderie to excite student athletes while also relaying the dedication and fulfillment that comes from the TKR Program.
“Motion was also a key piece of the site’s overall look and feel. We wanted to open the site with something like a preroll into the UK athletics program to hype up the viewer, then we maintained that sense of movement with animations through the user’s interactions. To really drive this point home and bring it all together, we created a system for UK that enables student athletes and their influencers to understand TKR through discovery. We prioritized high-level content elements and created a tiered method, so the potential student athletes can dig as deep or stay as high-level in the content as they desire. Finally, we created a TKR branded badge that not only lives on the website but can also be used to further promote the program through print, merchandise and other marketing efforts.”
Favorite details: “I’m most proud of how the UK team and the Accomplice team worked together for the entire engagement, remaining focused on what was needed to complete the experiential site,” says Burke. “It took everyone’s efforts to ensure that the site was stable and working as intended. We’re proud of our ability to create an impactful message about the UK’s four pillars—Athletics, Academics, Careers and Character—both on mobile and web, to truly engage all audiences for a long-term purpose and mission.”
Navigational structure: “As the centerpiece of the TKR experience, the site provides a holistic view of the program and how it is reshaping the way student athletes are prepared for greatness on the field and in life.” says Lennie. “Designed to capture the ever-evolving experience of being a student-athlete at UK, the site provides the ability to highlight specific moments and achievements that exemplify the spirit of TKR that, when viewed together, clearly demonstrate the unique vision and approach of the university.”