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State Seal Commonwealth of Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Kentucky’s New Brand: ‘Unbridled Spirit’ Wins Going Away
Press Release Date:  November 24, 2004
Contact:  Doug Hogan
Jeannie Lausche
Jason Keller

Frankfort, KY: It’s official, and it wasn’t even close.  In an easy win over three rivals, “Unbridled Spirit” today became Kentucky’s new brand.

In the third and final round of public voting, “Unbridled Spirit” tallied 11,298 votes, while “Where Legends Are Born” collected 4,633.

Governor Ernie Fletcher made the announcement this morning to a cheering crowd of supporters and curious travelers at the Shelby County Welcome Center on Interstate 64.

“Now the work really begins,” the Governor said.  “As we work to incorporate the brand and tell the world about the great things Kentucky is doing, we need for each of you to adopt the brand as well.  Use it.  Talk about it.  Tell others about it.”

“That’s because throughout our research, people told us the biggest asset we have is our own people.  The passion we have for our home and our neighbors.  We Kentuckians approach life with an unbridled spirit that will never be broken.”

The branding campaign began Oct. 26 when Governor Fletcher presented four brand options to the public and announced that the people’s votes would determine which brand would ultimately represent the Commonwealth.

Public interest was high, with “Unbridled Spirit” leading the other three from wire to wire.  More than 55,000 votes poured in through three rounds of balloting between Oct. 26 and the close of voting on Sunday, Nov. 21.  Most people voted online, but others deposited paper ballots at state resort parks, welcome centers and elsewhere, while still others mailed their votes directly to the state capitol.

“Kentucky – Limitless” finished last among the four and was eliminated at the close of round one on Nov. 5.  “Kentucky – Make History” came in third and was knocked out in round two, which ended Nov. 12.  That left “Unbridled Spirit” and “Where Legends Are Born” to fight it out.  But in a head-to-head battle between two brands bearing equine imagery, “Unbridled Spirit” overwhelmed “Legends” by a margin of more than 2:1.

Governor Fletcher also unveiled a new Web site,, which will feature branding news, showcase how the brand may be used and offer logo merchandise for sale.

Joy Jeffries, Executive Director of the Frankfort/Franklin County Tourist and Convention Commission, said “Unbridled Spirit” was her favorite all along.  “It only seems logical to go with what is already recognizable for Kentucky – horses,” she said.

Jack Couch, Executive Director of the Kentucky Council of Area Development Districts, said he liked not only the horse theme, but the human-spirit aspect as well.  With this catchphrase, he said, “we’re telling the country and the rest of the world that we don’t set limits… that Kentucky’s here, we’re rolling our sleeves up and we’re doing whatever it takes to make Kentucky a great place to live and do business.”

“It speaks of our enthusiasm and interest in thinking outside the box.  We are risk takers,” said Elaine “Cissy” Musselman, Chairwoman of the Louisville and Jefferson County Visitors and Convention Bureau. 

Governor Fletcher said the brand is about Kentucky’s future.  “It stands for who we are and who we want to be,” he said.  “The more the brand is shown and talked about, the more people outside this state will realize that Kentucky is something special.  That is why we will have it on our advertising, our signs, our stationery, our brochures, our Web site and virtually everything that comes from the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

The branding process is also saving the state money.  Kentucky had been spending $12 million to $14 million per year for all advertising and marketing.  As much as $2.5 million of that had been agency fees and commissions to more than a dozen different advertising agencies used by various cabinets within state government.

Governor Fletcher allowed those contracts to expire and submitted a request for proposals for one agency to handle all the state’s advertising and marketing needs.  After an extensive judging process, the Louisville agency New West was selected.  New West receives a flat hourly fee for service, and does not receive commission on advertising or expenses.  To date, New West’s billings are approximately $500,000 to research, develop, and promote the brand.

Out of the $2.5 million the state had been paying in agency commissions and fees, it is now creating a brand, marketing the Commonwealth more effectively and saving money in the process.  The new branding effort has a single purpose – to improve the image of Kentucky as a great place to live, enjoy a vacation and do business.

The Fletcher administration is also looking to consolidate or eliminate some of state government’s estimated 2,000 brochures.  For every 100 eliminated, the state could save more than $150,000.  Putting more brochures on the Internet and printing fewer will save the state even more, as well as giving its materials a more consistent “look and feel.”

The Governor said the brand “is not the only answer.  But it is a start.  We must still perform.  We must reform our tax structure.  We must improve education.  We must seek out – and take advantage of – every opportunity.  And we will.”

For example, he said, the state’s welcome centers could become “economic engines, so that travelers who stop here will someday have the option of reserving a room, making restaurant reservations, getting tickets to nearby attractions, or ordering Kentucky-made products – all with the click of a mouse right inside this building.”

More information on the winning brand and the selection process, plus samples of possible uses in advertising, merchandise, apparel, signage and sample license plates, can be found at

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Last updated: Thursday, June 02, 2005