The holidays are a special time of year. They bring us together, remind of us of what we value most and inspire a warmth and cheer unlike any other time of the year.
While the folks at Designsensory are busy putting the finishing touches on our holiday plans, we thought we would ask our friends and family in other parts of the world how they celebrate the yuletide season. It's a great reminder that while we may have different traditions and celebrations, the moments that we create for ourselves, and the feelings that those moments invoke unite us all.
Prettige Kerstfeest, from René in The Netherlands
“Children in The Netherlands get most excited for the night of December 5th. This is the night Sinterklaas brings presents to all the children who have been good that year and leaves them in their shoes. Sinterklaas parties are held where friends and family play treasure hunt games with poems and riddles giving clues. Children follow the clues to find small presents left by Sinterklaas.
On December 6th, Sinterklaas travels to a different town in The Netherlands each year, wearing his red bishop’s robes. When his boat comes ashore, church bells ring and Sinterklaas leads a procession through town, riding a white horse.”
Joyeux Noël, from Clément in France
“The very best part of Christmas for me is réveillion, the Christmas feast. On Christmas Eve, after my family goes to the midnight service, we come home for réveillion and eat foie gras, escargots, turkey with chestnuts and my grandmother’s bûche de Noël.”
Frohe Weihnachten, from Jonas in Germany
“Advent has always been a big part of my family’s Christmas celebration. There are several types of calendars used to celebrate Advent, but my family uses a wreath made of fir tree branches with 24 bags hanging from it. Each day, we open one of the bags, which are filled with sweets or small gifts.
Leading up to Christmas, many villages have large markets where you can buy food, decorations and gifts. One of the biggest markets is here in Nürnberg.”
Crặciun Fericit, from Andrei in Romania
“Our Christmas celebration begins on the 24th of December with the decorating of the tree. That night Moş Crăciun delivers presents to all the houses.
One of the most important traditions in Romania is carol singing. On Christmas Eve night, children walk from house to house throughout the village, singing carols and performing for the adults of the house. As a reward, they get sweets, fruit, traditional cakes and sometimes even money. On Christmas Day, adults go carol singing day and night.”
Wesołych Świąt, from Edyta in Poland
“Throughout Advent, we try to not have an excess of anything. We give up our favorite foods and drinks. We spend a lot of time cleaning our houses and preparing for Christmas Day.
On Wigilia [the traditional Polish Christmas Eve vigil supper], observed on December 24th, friends and family come together for the main meal. Our tradition establishes that no food is eaten until the first star is seen so children look at the sky to spot the first star. There are 12 dishes to give you good luck for the next 12 months. We always leave one empty place at the table for any unexpected guest.
Only after everyone has finished the meal can the children open gifts. After opening gifts, we go to midnight Mass.”
Buon Natale, from Guido in Italy
“In Italy, our most important Christmas tradition is the nativity. Like most people in Italy, we put our family presepe [a nativity scene or creche] up on December 8th. Naples is the city most famous for making nativity cribs, and there is still a street of nativity makers—the Via San Gregorio Armeno—where you can buy crib decorations and figures.
On Christmas Eve, after midnight Mass, we come home and have panettone, an Italian Christmas cake.”
Closer to home, some Designsensory clients are celebrating the holidays with their own traditions.
“At Sugarlands Distilling Company, we celebrate the holidays with friends and family. We enjoy beautifully unique cocktails, while using our award-winning Sugarlands Shine.”
Antique Piano Shop
“Holidays are always a busy time of year for the Antique Piano Shop, and this year is no exception. We absolutely love this time of year and the joy our pianos can bring to people. There's nothing better than seeing a family gathered around the piano at a holiday party, or hearing the piano play in the background while you enjoy time with those most dear to you. From all of us here at the Antique Piano Shop, we wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”
Patricia Nash Designs
"We love the holidays at Patricia Nash Designs more than any other time of year. The holiday shopping season is always chaotic but the spirit of giving and spending time with loved ones is what we take a moment to embrace. We start to see the customers buying handbags for their loved ones instead of themselves, and you can feel the difference that makes in their day. They're putting a lot of thought into giving something special to someone special and that means as much to us as it does to them.
We kick off the holidays and the giving spirit in a big way here—everything from store decorations, to events and online giveaways for our customers that are in the farthest reaches of the country. No corner of the store is left undecorated, and Patricia has made sure to run off any hint of Grinchyness from our offices. Having a holiday spirit isn't an option around here. You couldn't prevent it, even if you tried. Our family is the most important thing to us. So, from ours to yours, have a marvelous and safe holiday. May you travel, celebrate and live well in 2015."
No matter where you are celebrating this year, we hope the holidays bring you close to home and in the company of friends and family. From everyone at Designsensory, we wish you a very happy holiday!
For everyone connected to Designsensory—from clients, to DSers to families and friends—the past 12 months have been filled with moments that inspire, honor, delight, deliver and much, much more. Before we pivot toward the new year, we want to share some of those moments and what they mean to us.
Here’s a look back at 2014, first sharing some amazing business moments below. Then, we’d love for you to follow the link at the bottom of this article to see more candid moments from the DS team in our Facebook album.
2014 Designsensory business moments that:
Designsensory won 6 gold, 19 silver and 2 bronze ADDYs (American Advertising Awards).
Rich media production company PopFizz hit the ground running . . . literally, by filming endurance races and racing across the state, capturing footage and producing amazing commercials, shows and stills, among other efforts.
Designsensory’s integrated campaign for the Medal of Honor Society’s 2014 Convention brought together Knoxville patrons and patriots in celebration of acts of valor from a select few for the many.
PetSafe’s 2014 national advertising campaign, spearheaded by Designsensory’s creative and strategy teams, connected more people with PetSafe’s products and promoted the brand’s message to Protect. Teach. Love.
We’re proud to have supported a number of area nonprofits, philanthropies and organizations through our creative and commitment, including Goodwill Industries of Greater Knoxville, YWCA Knoxville, A Secret Safe Place For Newborns of Tennessee, Rachel’s Lament, One Vision and others. We live, work and play here too, so it's important to us to be good community partners.
Designsensory partnered with the Boy Scouts of America to launch STEM Scouts, a new science-based, coed learning program in Knoxville, TN, and, hopefully, soon across the country.
Our work last year with the University of Tennessee Medical Center on both their intranet and public-facing websites fostered connections for the health system’s doctors and staff, patients and their families.
We’re always proud to celebrate this great state, and its new travel website—as well as producing and developing the state’s most impactful seasonal advertising campaign to date, with original photography and videos spotlighting regions. The experience was an amazing chance to showcase the Volunteer State and welcome everyone to Tennessee.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s one-of-a-kind partnership with Designsensory to produce a thirty-minute TV program, Tennessee Uncharted, was the start of bringing together entertainment and advertising in a truly unique way.
Earned media and public relations have been an important piece of Designsensory’s integrated campaigns for years. In 2014, we made it officially part of our in-house capabilities with the addition of Melanie Beauchamp, public relations and media manager, and Casey Self, public relations and media specialist.
Among other initiatives, the Tennessee Departement of Economic and Community Development motivates businesses, musicians, entertainers and filmmakers to live, work and perform in Tennessee. Our integrated campaign efforts to help achieve these goals included originial photography, video and development of websites and print pieces.
Now that we've caught you up on some of the more professional moments, here's a look at a few personal moments from team DS.
When the weather outside is frightful, it's a good time to daydream about vacations and warmer travel destinations. No matter the season, our team at Designsensory is creating and developing ways to enhance travel, tourism and destination marketing. While some of you reading this may not be in the tourism industry, we’re sure these trends and our best-in-category solutions are insightful for every marketer.
Designsensory knows tourism. It shows throughout our process. From the first concepts we bring to our experienced, collaborative approach, we know how to create a brand that will entice visitors to destinations, intriguing and delighting them once they connect with our content. We're driven by focusing on results—the results you, as a client, want to see—o matter the size or location of the destination. We've designed productive campaigns at the state and regional level, as well as county, city, neighborhood and district initiatives. We are more than merely part of a conversation with your team. To help get the destination story started, we’re comfortable guiding digital and integrated problem-solving, asking and answering questions, and engaging in a collaborative approach. Let's look at five trends for destination marketing and what we’re doing to stay ahead of the curve.
Expand Your Communication Goals
Shift all-important key performance indicators, KPIs, for your digital and integrated efforts from travel guides mailed, heads-in-beds or butts-in-seats to encompass more moments throughout a journey. We’ve helped spur success for destination clients by focusing on measurement categories of demand, engagement and conversion with separate KPIs for each.
KPIs: unique visits, inbound links, referrals, social shares, likes
KPIs: time on site, page shares, video views, partner page views (value to partners)
KPIs: vacation requests, itinerary planning, retrospective travel, click-through rates on partners
Embrace Seamlessly Sharing Your Destination
We know sharing is fundamental to social media. Sharing your story in content and creativity with other Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) can also enhance your destination's brand efforts. Rather than a singular focus on what your community has to offer, recognize that your location is one of many stops. Showcasing the destination connections helps visitors piece together their larger journey. Designsensory partnered with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development to create 16 apps for Tennessee’s Trails and Byways program. DMOs and CVBs across the state collaborated to enhance each trail app, bringing together a seamless, shared story.
Integrate Communication Efforts
Whether your audience is a tour group, a business looking to relocate, weekend road trippers, conventioners, locals, the travel press or others, developing an integrated campaign focused on each segment will allow your destination to create moments that connect on any device, from desktop to tablet to mobile and in the spaces and places that matter. Among other initiatives, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development motivates businesses, musicians, entertainers and filmmakers to live, work and perform in Tennessee. Our integrated campaign efforts to help achieve these goals included original photography, video and development of websites and print pieces.
Destination marketers that stay focused on travelers and tourists may be missing out on one of their most important groups—residents of that community. Even if your website isn’t targeting tourists, rather focused on the people who live and work in your area, a compelling digital presence can play a key role in community building, promotion and DMO performance. Designsensory is working with the city of Milton, Georgia, to develop a new website that goes beyond the typical bureaucratic site and promises personalization, highlights the relationship between the city and its residents, and spotlights relevant and timely news.
Create Never-Ending Content Wells
Rarely does anyone want that perfect vacation or destination visit to end. Neither should your content. Social media and content calendars, public relations and other campaign efforts create strong connections. Travel happens in stages: daydreaming, researching, planning, visiting, sharing, decision-making, booking. And, if the experience is wonderful, often we make plans to revisit the destination. Just because a vacation comes to an end, engagement with that destination and your connection with the experiences can continue. We’re always proud to celebrate this great state, and its new travel website—as well as producing and developing the state’s most impactful seasonal advertising campaign to date, with original photography and videos spotlighting regions. The experience was an amazing chance to showcase the Volunteer State and welcome everyone to Tennessee. Remember, there's more to tourism marketing than just getting the information out there. Our campaigns work to move people from destination awareness to folks sharing stories, then all the way to planning a return trip. We're excited to be your travel partner throughout the journey.
As an organization, we are deeply committed to continuous learning, and growing inside and outside our walls. Interns who work with us are invaluable to us and our growth. Superhero DS interns for this fall semester are Courtney Gibson, Joey Hathaway and Brayan Zavala. Courtney and Brayan work with our designers, while Joey works with our strategist and public relations staffers.
Courtney is a Knoxville native and a senior at the University of Tennessee. She plans to graduate in May with a BFA in graphic design and a minor in journalism and electronic media.
“I love the ability to make clever moments happen with what I can create visually in meaningful ways,” she muses. “I also love the ability to be a storyteller with design.”
Courtney’s stint at Designsensory this fall marks her first time working with an agency. She has relished refining her skills for both print and web layouts, and learning about branding. “I went through the branding process for my own project so it has definitely been neat to see it come to fruition with logo design and web applications.” While she assists with other projects, her main focus has been creating a new site design for Knoxville’s First Friday.
In her spare time, Courtney likes to read, do yoga, knit, and be outdoors.
Joey, from Glasgow, Missouri, is a senior majoring in advertising at the University of Tennessee. He works mainly with Strategist Josh Loebner and Public Relations and Media Specialist Casey Self.
“Designsensory is a one-of-a-kind agency with a culture and ethic that is unmatched in Knoxville,” Joey observes. While at Designsensory, he's learned how to turn secondary research into a strategic direction that benefits clients and makes their advertising and public relations efforts more effective. Joey’s favorite project thus far has been a pro bono website for Knoxville’s First Friday. It has allowed to him to fully develop a project with his fellow interns, seeing it through from start to finish, with a little help from DS staffers.
During downtime, Joey likes to hang out with friends and annoy his puppy as much as humanly possible.
Brayan was born in Moroleon Guanajuato, Mexico, but moved to Chicago when he was just a year old. When Brayan was five, his family moved to Knoxville where he is currently a senior at the University of Tennessee. Brayan will graduate with a BFA in graphic design.
“I love that graphic design is about easing communication through visual solutions,” says Brayan. “It’s so open-ended and connects all kinds of people. Essentially it’s creative problem-solving.” He considers our designers at Designsensory very progressive in their visual choices, adding, “Designsensory is really in tune with their clients and strives to create great moments and touch points with each project and client.”
Brayan has learned that collaboration is key. He takes note of how his colleagues utilize each creative’s specific talent, while encouraging collaboration to create the best piece possible. By working with other DS staff members, aside from the designers, he has observed that creatives here have specific skill sets. “However, if you allow others to collaborate and work with each other, magic tends to happen,” he says.
So far, his favorite project has been working on a website for Retire Tennessee. Initially coming into DS, he wasn’t really interested in web design, but has a new appreciation for it since he’s been able to see the creation of this website from start to finish. He found out he really enjoys the process of making websites because it allows him to come up with great moments throughout the site that make it memorable.
Brayan is a portrait photographer and loves to get to know people through his work. He’s done a few projects with local firemen, paramedics and veterans.
We offer a number of competitive internships each year in the fields of graphic design, web development and computer programming. Check into our internships, for more information.
At Designsensory, we believe in the power of richly crafted stories. We’ve been hard at work (and having lots of fun) with our production partner, PopFizz, creating rich media that helps clients promote their brands. We’ve collaborated with PopFizz on photo and video shoots from Anderson County, Tennessee, to Cook Inlet, Alaska. On the ground and in the air, on four-wheelers and oil rigs, we’ve captured amazing images that tell great stories.
PopFizz’s talented photographers and production staff are a perfect accompaniment to our creative crew here at Designsensory. Our philosophy is to create moments of truth—experiences that inspire people to act. As our name implies, we’re about connecting all the senses and integrating across print, digital, video and beyond. Our relationship with PopFizz adds that extra layer of value that helps us offer fully integrated solutions for our clients. Below are some examples of how our partnership with PopFizz has enhanced some of our work.
When one of our clients, PetSafe, wanted an online video and national commercial, along with photography for print ads used in a national campaign, we called in the PopFizz crew. Our team wrote the scripts, found the talent, scouted the locations, and designed the look of the videos and photographs to satisfy the goals of the advertisements. After all the prep work, we partnered with our PopFizz friends to carry out the task of producing images that would fit perfectly with the campaign’s overall look and feel.
For STEM Scouts, a new educational program from the Boy Scouts of America, our collaborative work with PopFizz ran the gamut from scriptwriting to postproduction. Together, we captured still photos of students as they did experiments. We built a Rube Goldberg machine for a television commercial. In keeping with the purpose of the program—to educate youth about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) through hands-on learning—we used footage of the cast and crew shot during production for a fun and educational, behind-the-scenes video.
No place is too far to go for great shots, not even Alaska. Earlier this year, Bryan Allen and his PopFizz crew got a bird’s-eye view of beautiful Cook Inlet, shooting breathtaking images of the oil drilling operations of Designsensory client Miller Energy. By working closely with PopFizz, we were able to capture the images we needed, in the way we needed them, to use across several of Miller Energy’s print and electronic pieces.
In Anderson County, PopFizz and Designsensory covered four-wheelers, museums, water sports and wildlife. Web-based video and still photography for Big South Fork Air Park promoted the community’s airstrip and equestrian facilities. Footage shot with our drone helps promote industrial sites across the state for the Tennessee Economic Development Commission. That’s right, we have a drone, and we're not afraid to use it.
No matter the moment, people want to be entertained. And, no matter the business, your product or service can utilize entertainment to elevate moments and inspire action. Advertising’s past relationship with consumers was, what many considered, inconvenient at best, and could be described as an interruption or a barrier, often boring. While some people’s idea of entertainment in marketing may be a gimmicky President’s Day sale, many more industry leaders are forging paths to uniquely combine advertising and entertainment.
Chet Gulland, head of digital strategy at Droga5, told Mashable in a recent article, "The upside of creating things people actually want to watch is huge.” Gulland goes on to share that “more and more brands are now devising content strategies beyond traditional advertising to draw bigger and more engaged audiences."
Chief marketing officers, creative directors, business leaders and their brands’ passionate consumers are embracing bold, new stories told and shared in ways that entertain and delight. Rich media, long-form video, microsites, user-generated content, immersive branded events and social sharing combine within integrated campaigns to bring branded content and messaging to a higher level of connectivity, caring and engagement among enthusiasts. Here are a few great examples of advertainment mash-ups:
BMW was one of the first brands to drive beyond typical car advertising with BMW films by creating short-form art-house cinema.
Felix Baumgartner’s space jump from 24 miles up in the stratosphere, sponsored by Red Bull, took advertising and entertainment worlds away from gimmicky sales and much closer to a documentary about innovation, risk-taking and rewards.
Oreo cookies advertainment transforms daily trends into often witty, bite-sized social stories shared by millions, and the brand also collaborates with renowned chefs to create innovative Oreo-based food hacks.
We believe every moment in a brand story and each consumer touchpoint present an amazing opportunity where connections offer the chance to, among other things, delight, inspire, praise and even love. These moments can truly entertain and create new avenues of momentum and action.
Is boring your brand's enemy? Have you considered ways a combination of entertainment and advertising can elevate your integrated campaigns?
Big South Fork Airpark is a premier aviation and equestrian community in a spectacular expanse of Tennessee. Since the natural beauty of the region and the prestigious lifestyle of the airpark are main selling points for the community, a visually appealing website was of utmost importance.
The airpark is perched at the edge of Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, a panorama spanning 125,000 acres of outdoor beauty. Naturally, the new photography created by the PopFizz crew steals the show. The site design is modern, clean, with streamlined navigation, so the original photography could shine.
DSXpress, Designsensory’s content management system, combines ease of use with the unlimited ability to create and edit on the fly, enabling quick population of the site with copy and photos. A custom photo gallery further showcases the development section and the amenities section of the site.
With the brand-new Big South Fork Airpark website, aviation enthusiasts can learn about the development and its community, and become familiar with the airpark surroundings before they fly there. For more information on Big South Fork Airpark, visit the new website.
One of Designsensory’s recent entrepreneurial partnerships was with Michael Crain, whose innovative thinking for a video messaging platform was developed into the Vuture app.
As a life insurance salesman, Michael had many conversations with his clients about loss and bereavement, and he recognized an opportunity to bring positive affirmations into the mix. His initial idea was that life insurance policy owners could record themselves with this new video messaging platform, allowing the video to be viewed in the future at a specifically designated time, such as after the death of the policyholder.
Michael saw even greater potential beyond this first user iteration as he developed the business plan. Apple’s app store description shares one fun example for use: Simply prerecord individual birthday messages for your closest family and friends and upload them to Vuture’s cloud. Then, schedule when and to whom you’d like to text or email your personalized video messages; in this case, each person will receive the personalized video on his or her birthday. Vuture will automatically send a message at the scheduled date, inviting your recipients to view their personalized videos.
We want to see Michael succeed in every way possible, so beyond developing the app, the Designsensory team gave visual design recommendations and encouraged Michael to connect with area entrepreneurial groups and events. The Vuture business plan was among finalists at the Knoxville Chamber’s Big Idea business plan competition as well as The Legacy Centre’s first EntreVision learning initiative and awards event.
Find out more about Vuture and download the app.
We embrace all of our client partnerships, from the well-established brands that have been around for decades to fresh-faced start-ups. Even though Designsensory is approaching 15 years, we believe an entrepreneurial culture is valuable at all stages of business.
The Lean Startup author Eric Ries defines "entrepreneurship" as “the management discipline that deals in a scientific way with situations of high uncertainty.” In a Huffington Post blog, "Lean Startup and Design Thinking," author Cosmin Gheorghe shares “what Lean Startup and Design Thinking have in common is the focus on the customers and their actual needs.”
According to a Gallup study and associated article “highly successful entrepreneurs can creatively look beyond the present and imagine possible futures for their company. If you are a Creative Thinker, you are driven to steer your business in new directions.”
The "Great Entrepreneurs Are Creative Thinkers" piece goes on to share seven ways to maximize your creative thinker talent:
1. Balance current and future customer needs. It is easy to be tied down with day-to-day business management and focused on delivering what your customers expect from you. Set aside time to disconnect from the present, and feed your creativity to imagine your customers' future needs. This will help you dream and plan for the future and maintain your competitive advantage.
2. Use measurement to evaluate your ideas. When weighing which idea to implement, ask yourself, "How can we measure this?" Pick ideas apart to identify issues that could crop up during implementation. If the results show that a project isn't viable, then modify or abandon the idea and move on to the next one.
3. Minimize potential pitfalls by releasing your new product or service incrementally. Implementing new ideas is risky. Iteration is key. Launch the prototype, gather feedback from customers, make necessary changes, and test again. Using this low-cost approach, you can turn your novel and creative ideas into products or services without much potential downside.
4. Maintain a simple organizational structure. Fewer layers of hierarchy will enable easier information flow between you and your team. A simple organizational structure will also increase employee involvement in implementing ideas, encourage employees' creativity, and lead to quicker execution and understanding of new ideas.
5. Balance efficiency with creativity. Process management techniques, such as total quality management or Six Sigma, which can increase your growing company's efficiency and productivity, are also likely to decrease your ability to innovate. Don't let efficiency-enhancing practices act as barriers to exploring new ideas. Nurture your natural creativity. Continue to invest in new ideas as you increase operational efficiency.
6. Mobilize resources to fuel your innovation process. You need two things for successful innovation: diverse experiences that spark your creativity and resources to drive the innovation process. Tap in to your existing network or build new alliances internally and externally to stimulate your creativity and access shared resources.
7. Learn from your failures. When carefully planned new initiatives fail, the potential to learn from them is immense. Don't let this learning opportunity go to waste. Conduct a post-mortem, make sense of what happened, and add what you have learned to your knowledge base. Fostering intelligent failures will help you learn what not to do as you dream about the future.
Innovation and entrepreneurship often go hand in hand. James Dyson, founder of Dyson, has shared, "We are all looking for the magic formula. Well, here you go: Creativity + Iterative Development = Innovation."
How are you celebrating an entrepreneurial culture and creative thinking in your business?
When Sugarlands Distilling Company approached liquor stores to sell its products, it recognized the need for marketing materials that would distinguish the distilling company from the competition. And, when Sugarlands made the move to a national distributor, that distributor made the same observation. A conversation followed, centered around a brochure created specifically for liquor store owners.
We were thrilled when the good folks at Sugarlands asked us to develop and design the print piece, going beyond the original scope of work of an integrated branding and marketing campaign.
The brochure had a simple, solitary goal: To convince liquor store owners that they needed to carry Sugarlands Distilling Company moonshine because customers were going to be asking for it. The company was receiving inquiries from people across the country who had visited the distillery in Gatlinburg as to where they could buy the moonshine locally. National media outlets were featuring stories about the products. The Sugarlands moonshines were winning international awards. Clearly, there was a lot of buzz about Sugarlands Distilling Company we needed to highlight in the brochure.
The final brochure boasts 20 pages of beautiful photography, personal stories and practical information. Some of the special features include product descriptions with clever recipes, a map of the Eastern U.S., showing where Sugarlands’ fans are, pictures of point of sale displays, awards, packaging and shipping information, and more. It’s everything a liquor store owner could want.
Our work with Sugarlands is a good example of needing to be flexible and responsive to clients’ needs as they arise. Sometimes plans change. We’re always ready to go with the flow. Especially if it’s moonshine.