RSS Feed

DS Blog

Bringing Sugarlands to New Markets


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.

Comments (0)|Posted by: Joseph Nother, 23 October 2014 at 10:04am

Utilize: The Power of Public Relations

Unless your business strives to be mundane and introverted, we’d like to think that your brand has something newsworthy to share. It’s safe to say that every day may not bring a front page article, evening news story or online coverage reaching millions. However, utilizing the power of public relations can help connect moments of truth to momentum for your brand.

Simply defined, PR is about creating and growing relationships with people who will help share your messages.

In a recent Fast Company article, “How To Spice Up Your PR When Your Business Isn’t Sexy," Leron Kornreich answers four questions to help guide PR strategy:

1. What TRULY interesting story can you tell?

Your product may be of interest to a narrow audience, but your PR need not be limited to product announcements.

Consider the story you can tell. Sometimes the focus should be on customers: Is your product or service enabling a small business, nonprofit, or large enterprise to succeed in ways that were not possible before?

2. Who are the top influencers in your space?

If your company produces products that are of interest to only a limited niche, seek out that audience.

3. Who cares?

Ask yourself:  Who cares about our product or services? Don’t give the cop-out answer of “everybody” because that’s disingenuous. Getting covered in numerous irrelevant publications will not get your business the traction that a smaller number of media hits in highly relevant publications will garner.

4. Are there ways to reach your audience beyond traditional media?

We launched a series of original eBooks that were sent to customers and potential customers alike, and were well received because we made sure they answered questions our audience was curious about.

Public relations—when applied creatively and strategically—can be a low-cost but highly effective aspect of a successful marketing program.

Is your business newsworthy? How are you sharing that news? Talk to our PR team about your ideas and needs.

Comments (0)|Posted by: Joseph Nother, 25 September 2014 at 10:20am

A September of Community Building

Goodwill Vintage Fashion Show

At Goodwill's 30th annual Vintage Fashion Show & Sale, a September night of stunning style began with dinner, drinks and delicious anticipation of the ultra-cool-to-kooky ensembles and models that would soon be vogueing the runway. All items featured in the show were available for sale immediately following the program, as the urban chic of the runway models motivated onlookers to make note of which treasures they'd snag in the well-put-together, one-night-only Vintage Store. The sale featured exclusive vintage merchandise, including clothing, hats, shoes, coats, furs, formals and accessories, as well as many top name brands like Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Coach, and more. 

Those who came early to the event were able to shop the presale. Proceeds from the event help support Goodwill Industries-Knoxville's mission to provide vocational services and employment opportunities for people with barriers to employment. Of course, you can shop an array of fashions every day at your local Goodwill store.

Designsensory developed the show's visual identity, as well as posters and programs, and was a sponsor for the event.


Rock the Cradle

The noteworthy mission of A Secret Safe Place for Newborns of East Tennessee—to protect the most defenseless among us, newborn infants, by educating and informing women and communities of safe, secret options under the Safe Haven Law—brings out the best in people interested in helping make a difference for babies in Tennessee. So does its annual Rock the Cradle event, a concert and silent auction to help raise community awareness and dollars for the local nonprofit. 

The Maryville College Alumni Gym was the venue for the September 13 celebration. The event included the music of Laurel Wright and Smooth Groove, Sonny's BBQ and kids' activities. 

Designsensory developed posters, tickets, programs and a website, and was a sponsor for the area nonprofit occasion.

Comments (0)|Posted by: Joseph Nother, 25 September 2014 at 10:10am

Getting Great Gear

When asked to create—a site that features everything a musician might need to buy or sell guitars and guitar equipment—we were thrilled to take on the job. Not only are several DSers musicians, also the site is one of the few of its kind.

Additionally, while in the process of creating the website, the site’s owner received $10,000 in startup cost reimbursement, office space and complimentary business service by winning the grand prize for Knoxville Chamber’s business plan competition, What’s the Big Idea? Because he was awarded the prize well into the website’s creation, taking home the grand prize made his investment to create the website all the more worthwhile.

AmpTrader is an online guitar-enthusiast community, offering the opportunity for guitar hobbyists and professional musicians alike to buy, sell and trade their guitar equipment. Users can create a profile, list their gear and connect with other musicians. The simple, streamlined profile creator allows prospective sellers to seamlessly upload photos, videos and all the details about their piece of equipment. Potential buyers can sort by equipment type, price, listing date and location of their potential buy.

The website also creates a community for guitar enthusiasts. It allows users to connect with one another and barter an item. It also incorporates social media components to further bolster a connection among users. And, as a nationwide site, guitarists from all over the world can connect with one another

With the brand-new, musicians can more easily part with their favorite guitar knowing that it’s going to a good home, and they’ve gained an even better guitar in the process. For more information on AmpTrader, visit

Comments (0)|Posted by: Joseph Nother, 25 September 2014 at 10:09am

Public Relations in the Mix

Designsensory is excited to announce that, with the addition of two new staff members, we now offer more public relations services in our all-encompassing approach. We welcome Casey Self and Melanie Beauchamp to the team! Combined, they bring more than 20 years of experience in PR and media relations.

At DS, we like to utilize all of our resources to provide clients with a thoughtful, integrated, strategic approach to building their brand. With Casey and Melanie on board, we can now fully incorporate public relations into our toolkit. Not only will we be able to offer more PR services—like media relations work, event promotions and social media management—but Casey and Melanie, along with Strategist Josh Loebner, will be working with clients on the front end to integrate brand messages across multiple channels. We can now offer a more comprehensive integrated marketing approach that unites the power of earned, owned and shared media.

This experienced PR team can use both traditional and nontraditional tactics to engage media, introduce new audiences to brand messages and build awareness, ultimately increasing audience engagement.

To learn more about the power of PR, read our “Utilize” blog. We’re really excited about the endless possibilities, and we think you will be too.

Want to see how PR can enhance your brand? Contact Paula Solomon at 865-690-2249.

Comments (0)|Posted by: Joseph Nother, 25 September 2014 at 10:07am

Utilize: Microsites


Think of snackable content. You may envision individual social posts, infographics and short videos. However, microsites can create maximum impact in your digital presence and content mix.

Typically, these smaller sites, just a few pages, are built around a focused campaign or message. Microsites have been around for years, and their roles are changing and adding a dynamic component to integrated campaigns.

Digiday recently reported, “Microsites are also more popular now because Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are ‘restrictive,’" said Ellie Hardy, director of integrated production at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. These platforms, continued Hardy, "don’t have the same experience on desktop as on mobile and tablet. They don’t enable brands to showcase their products in a rich environment; they are very static. Microsites allow for more robust experiences that can be had across all devices.”


Here are a few examples of some of our favorite microsites:

• Marriott’s #Love Travels

• Travelocity’s How Far Away From Sharks Am I?

• Coca-Cola’s

Today, basically every business and organization has a presence online with a website, but have you considered how a microsite would fit within your integrated marketing? 

Comments (0)|Posted by: Joseph Nother, 26 August 2014 at 8:09am

Hit the Battlefield


Battlefield Leadership specializes in experiential leadership training. The consulting and training company's customized programs, derived from events and powerful people who shaped the course of history, present the best in character-based leadership and have proven highly effective in catalyzing change for organizations and business leaders. 

From two to four days in length, Battlefield Leadership's training sessions use great military battles as intensive case studies for contemporary business leadership practices. Many programs are conducted on actual battle terrain, and feature lodging and meeting venues as period-authentic as possible. Other programs take place in historical sites, such as the Lincoln Library, or in a classroom. 

Those who've experienced Battlefield Leadership's programs are coming home "energized and eager to apply focused insights." Battlefield Leadership is building more effective leadership, as well as strengthening workgroups and leadership teams. By program's end, participants make personal commitments to change specific aspects of their leadership practice. 

Given the dramatic settings for programs—such as Little Big Horn, Gettysburg or The Bulge—you would expect some pretty spectacular images to appear on Battlefield Leadership's website. Designsensory created a new, fully responsive website for the experiential leadership trainer, with stunning battlefield photography conveying the uniqueness of the brand. Simple, clean aesthetics and branded imagery aligns Battlefield Leadership in a trajectory to grow its business. 

DSXpress, Designsensory's content management system, offers the client the ability to create and edit content on the fly. Robust content editing options, such as the testimonial widget, give the client multiple options for communicating messages.

With a simplified, refreshed website, Battlefield Leadership stands apart from its competitors. 

Comments (0)|Posted by: Joseph Nother, 26 August 2014 at 8:07am

Celebrating Summer with HOOF food truck


The DS staff let off a little summer steam at our recent parking lot party. Local farm-fresh food truck HOOF offered up a classic burger dressed with tomato jam and fresh spinach, a pimento cheeseburger and summer vegetable lasagna. HOOF provided buttermilk panna cotta with wild blackberry jelly for those with a sweet tooth. The whole menu was down-home delicious, with HOOF using the freshest ingredients from vendors like Century Harvest Farms (one of our very own clients), Noble Springs Dairy, Wildwood Farm and various others in the area. 

DSers tried their hand at cornhole, courtesy of project manager Chesney Anderson, whose husband makes custom boards. Check out Donut Boards on Facebook. Tech guru Michael Pryfogle furnished home-brewed ale to compliment the HOOF selections. Matt Honkonen, business development, made the arrangements for DSers to enjoy a great dinner and a formal introduction to the HOOF food truck. We believe! 

We are lucky to have a staff who cares about our clients and our work, as well as the others they work with. As our team continues to grow in number and capabilities, we can’t help but chant “Team Designsensory for the win.” 

Check out the fun on Facebook.

Comments (0)|Posted by: Joseph Nother, 26 August 2014 at 8:04am

Gearing Up for the Medal of Honor Convention


With the Medal of Honor Convention just a couple of weeks away, Designsensory is hard at work to get the word out, to help recognize the recipients, and to make them feel welcomed and appreciated for their service and sacrifice.

From digital billboards to beautiful print pieces, web-based outreach and fundraising, we’re excited to continue our work on this memorable event, which runs September 10-14. We’ve also collaborated with local television and other professionals to conceptualize social media plans and ways the public can interact with the recipients during the convention.

Designsensory has been proud to partner with the local convention committee on a comprehensive campaign that has spanned almost two years, from the bid process to the convention itself. We hope you will join with us in welcoming the recipients to Knoxville by participating in the town hall forums and other events to help perpetuate the legacy of the recipients’ unselfish heroism.

Comments (0)|Posted by: Joseph Nother, 26 August 2014 at 8:01am

Real-time Marketing


The event and matches of the 2014 FIFA World Cup created amazing opportunities and moments for brands to be a part of something bigger than themselves, and to have fun. Individuals and crowds across the globe, even in outer space, were transfixed to the events, games, athletes and advertising.

During events such as the World Cup, companies and organizations often turn their attention inward to focus on their brands’ individual attributes, unique selling propositions or key differentiators. However. there are amazing opportunities—like the World Cup—for us to realize that, instead of being in a vacuum with no concern about current events, pop culture or news, brands can easily tap into moments that millions of people are connecting with in their daily lives, and that lie outside of their typical interaction with many of these brands.

Whether Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest or other social networking websites, social media created global content conversations for fans, brands and the athletes during the widely watched World Cup. This infographic reveals some of the impact.

Real-time marketing, which connects brand content to events happening in real-time (Oreo's Daily Twist is a great example), was one of the most powerful tools used by brands during the World Cup. This Adweek article takes readers into the ESPN social media war room for real-time marketing during the most tweeted event in sports history.

Each day presents new opportunities for brands to discover moments of truth. While those moments may not balance a global scale the size of the World Cup,  they still give your messaging entertaining and exciting ways to score with your customers.

What are some ways your brand is connecting right now?

Comments (0)|Posted by: Joseph Nother, 28 July 2014 at 7:33pm


Alison Ashe

Alison Ashe

Alison solves visual communication problems through a process of research, concept exploration, and original thinking.

Matt Honkonen

Matt Honkonen

Matt came to Knoxville from Chattanooga, where he worked as the senior strategist with the marketing and public relations department of a large digital agency. He has worked with a wide variety of brands, helping to solidify digital presence and develop a

Sarah Loebner

Sarah Loebner

Sarah worked for agencies in Ohio and Boston before coming to Knoxville seven years ago and burnishing her reputation as an innovative designer and fresh thinker. While inspiring design is her form of communication her passion lies in client partnerships,

Josh Loebner

Josh Loebner

Josh combines research and strategic thinking as the foundation for powerful, goal-oriented marketing experiences.

Lindsay Miller

Lindsay Miller

Lindsay is dedicated to the unrelenting pursuit of delivering unique, effective media solutions that bring a company's message to life.

Joseph Nother

Joseph Nother

As co-founder and creative director for Designsensory, Joseph oversees teams that deliver award-winning and compelling design.

Brandon Rochelle

Brandon Rochelle

Brandon, co-founder and technical director, oversees technology development spanning interactive work through online marketing.

Susan Sewell

Susan Sewell

Susan brings a background as a writer, senior editor, promotion specialist and project manager.

Ben Smith

Ben Smith

Ben is a designer, illustrator, cook, banjo player, guitarist, cyclist, rock climber and backpacker, who also happens to be exceptionally humble.  As a former intern (Bentern), who joined the team full-time (Benployee) in June 2013 after earning a B.F.A

©2014 Designsensory, Inc. All Rights Reserved.