The Designsensory team arrived en masse and celebrated a year’s worth of hard work at the 47th annual ADDY® Awards, with all entries earning recognition, including four Gold ADDYs. Upon accepting the Best of Show Collateral award, Joseph Nother took to the stage with a brief acceptance speech, encouraging everyone to embrace the power of good design. Tennessee heritage and trendsetting hipsters mingled with the auspicious addition of a moonshine-filled mason jar at each table, helping to promote heartfelt “yeehaws” after wins by Designsensory. Yes, happily, we did our part: our memorable moonshine jar was empty by evening’s end.
The Crowne Plaza saw many in evening gowns and tuxedos, as attendees brought elegance to the roaring twenties-themed gala. Serenading the event was a lively jazz trio, while local radio and TV personalities emceed the event.
The annual ADDY Awards is the advertising industry’s largest recognition of creative excellence. AAF-Knoxville hosts the local ADDY Awards, with Gold and Silver winners eligible to continue the competition at regional and national levels.
Designsensory’s creative honors included:
- Gold & Best of Show Collateral for Financial Executives International’s FEIesta Invitation
- Gold, The Legacy Centre For Family Business & Entrepreneurship website
- Gold, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development’s seasonal microsite, Winter With Elvis
- Gold, Designsensory’s 10-year mixed media campaign
- Silver, Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corporation’s web, mobile & e-blast
- Silver, BASI Pilates website
- Silver, The University of Tennessee Medical Center website
- Silver, The Legacy Centre For Family Business & Entrepreneurship logo
- Silver, Goodwill Industries-Knoxville Vintage Fashion Show poster
- Bronze, PetSafe’s Paw Print blog
- Bronze, University of Tennessee Medical Center’s Fans of Hope website
We congratulate all the winners and express our appreciation to AAF-Knoxville for the fantastic festivities.
AIGA (the professional association of design) former president, and Sterling Brands' President of Design, Debbie Millman’s visited Knoxville recently and lectured on brands. Our design team was fortunate to hear her speak and several folks provided remarks on the evening. . . .
Justin Hudson, graphic designer: "What I took away from the lecture most is the role strategy plays in branding, and the strength it provides to our design. When we have a reason for the branding to exist, with clearly defined goals, our design will be much more successful and less subjective. It defines our role in the process and gives credibility to what we are creating.
Another interesting topic from the Millman lecture is the triune brain and how that relates to our reception of brands. It makes for an interesting explanation as to why we, as humans, act and react the way we do."
Alison Ashe, senior graphic designer: “I loved that she said the only good designers who don’t wake up every morning thinking, ‘What if I can’t be great today; what if I’ve lost it?’ are people like Milton Glaser, and that’s just because they’re 80. It reminds me of one of my favorite books, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, which says that only a true professional who is devoted to his/her craft will constantly be plagued by the fear of being a hack.”
Matt Montgomery, graphic designer: "Debbie Millman, as president of design for industry heavyweight Sterling Brands, has helped brand products such as Pepsi, Gilette, Nestle and Star Wars. So, it’s not surprising that few people speak more eloquently or intuitively about the role of branding in today’s economic and social landscape. One idea I found particularly insightful was that companies should not focus on a brand “refresh” or “redesign,” but rather focus on what the current cultural meaning is behind the symbols in their brand. With this knowledge, they can properly assess whether that cultural meaning resonates with their desired audience or not—-a great insight to help customers ascertain if a redesign is warranted in order to better connect with customers.
I strongly recommend her latest book, Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits, as it is filled with interviews with industry notables and more. Millman weaves these together to paint a fascinating picture of the state of branding today."
Those of us lucky enough to be in Debbie Millman’s presence at Old City’s Remedy Coffee on Thursday, January 20, drank a cup of experiential wisdom. Inspiring? Vehemently, yes! Her passion and story evoke a close-up, walk-in-my-boots motivation, rather than sit-there-in-awe-of-a-cultural-icon inspiration. We can aptly relate to her trials by fire. An early point in the evening taught listeners to not turn down small opportunities. You never know. . . .
When Debbie Millman is onstage, you feel like a cohort, definitely along for one adventurous ride. To those confidence-eroding self-questions we all have: “Will I be able to do it today?” “Can I be great again today?” she tossed back, “Be aware of how you self-limit or self-sabotage. Don’t cut yourself off. You just may be able to do it!”
For the students in attendance—yet, benefitting all—Millman advised, “Be polite, persistent, headstrong. What can you do to make your dreams come true?”
Her emphasis on strategy certainly resonated with me as we espouse the same values at Designsensory. Millman cautioned that great ideas without great strategy won’t work, paying respect to several in her field who she tapped for their definition of “strategy” particularly in the context of brands. Ultimately, the cornerstone of brand strategy is really in differentiated advantage: the ability to either (a) be different, or (b) do things differently. Brand identity and communication design simply work to define and express this point of view.
A brand is a shared relationship between corporate stakeholders and customers. Millman pointed to how we parse reviews before buying on Amazon, as an example of how social testimony can shape brand affinity. Her statement that, “Human beings metabolize their purchases quickly” and ensuing extrapolations gave us food for thought about challenging stakeholders to create brands that are meaningful, sustainable, transparent and purposeful.
And, she caused some serious seat squirming when she announced that people passionately disavow change, illustrating the lengths to which human beings will endeavor to keep comfort close. Brands, like people, evolve but many are unforgiving of the changes to brand identity because of a discomfort with change. Remember the GAP logo debacle? she reminded.
Indeed, it was a great night to be on the front row. Insightful and inspirational.
At the beginning of the new year, we at Designsensory, like to share some forward-thinking design, content and technology insights that, hopefully, you can utilize within your branding, business and marketing efforts. This post showcases the multidisciplinary nature of our firm with insights from several Designsensory team members. Names are included within the post so that you can get to know a bit more about them and our collective thoughts on what’s next in branding, technology and design for 2012 and beyond.
Joseph Nother | creative director, principal, cofounder
- Physical and digital lines are blurring and converging. Bringing digital/social information into a physical world will be a growth point. For example, in NYC, a collaborative meeting space key fob is tied in with the individual’s social information and work. Swipe a key fob to enter, then wall screens and settings change to showcase that person’s work, websites of interest, tweets and ambient settings.
- Distinct work/life modes are disappearing. For example, people will increasingly work personal content access, such as Facebook, into their professional lives, leveraging their own “avatar brand” in their work.
- An appetite for access to content, anytime, anywhere, will increase as well as the ability to discriminate between good, bad and trustworthy content.
- Dialogue vs. monologue across all touchpoints enabled by mobile devices will have greater implications for brands. Brands will need to identify and/or plant firm, deep, authentic roots in their positioning, legacy, social advocacy, perspective and mission. These values will, more than ever, need to be clearly express by their culture, people, designed objects and touchpoint experiences to convey a differentiated advantage to consumers.
- Context + Content are king because devices make consumption instant. This cycle will also be self-reinforcing and have lasting impact on our ability to discriminate, focus and make decisions in our daily lives.
- For technology, experience and meaning trump productivity as we are focused on adding meaning to life beyond material wealth and being.
- Across all brands, the novelty of digital gives way to delivery of relevant content, conversations and digitally-enhanced experiences. Brands should now have a greater understanding of what works for them in the digital space. This self-awareness should enhance how they use digital to engage and augment.
- Shopping and commerce becomes less isolated and segmented, more integrated into the stream of consumer lives. Thus, the concept of “store” is being redefined.
- Social media continues to democratize societal and cultural influence. Media celebrities stand toe to toe with the “influencers of niche and micro groups” (i.e., the normal individual).
- Print, particularly well-curated and well-designed items will trump digital communication as authentic, real and influential, as digital has become ubiquitous and cheap (i.e., if someone prints something, the individual must believe in it because of the cost of publishing inherent to the medium).
- Vintage and tangible objects increasing in meaning and/or become luxury items in an increasingly tactile-less digital world.
- Video becomes more accessible, more easily created and distributed. Since video mirrors the experience of real life, people hunger for more moving images and content creators will continue to satisfy while looking for ways to monetize or capitalize on viewership.
- HTML5 adoption, the proliferation of gadets of varied screen sizes and the notion of responsive, adaptive and liquid layouts will continue to push digital design in directions focused on sustainabile, flexible content delivery.
- Olympics in London might spawn newfound interest in UK and Old World heritage as well as contemporary European culture, styles and lifestyles.
- A desire to leave the economic and societal negativity of the last few years gives way to a projection of more positively oriented themes.
- Elections in the fall of 2012 will see a renewed emphasis on personal responsibility, sustainability, economic viability and personal lifestyle choices, as these themes will serve as sub-current to the explicit themes of the election: taxes, economic prosperity in a global world, global competition and cost-reduction.
- Will 2012 be the end, as the Mayans predict? What would that portend? Regardless, a contemplation of where we’ve been, where we are going and the metaphysical value in our desires, fears and aspirations will be on our minds.
Susan Hamilton | content developer, editor
Among the larger trends I hear frequently discussed are:
- Fully connect with the community you serve, whether that community is geographic or interest-based. Be an outlet that people in that community trust and rely on for information that serves them and matters to them.
- Be transparent in all things. That may mean, for some types of information outlet, shedding the cloak of objectivity and showing your passion and concern. It also means being transparent about who you are, where and when you get your information, how you allow a story to develop (in its own time), and what the responses are.
Alison Ashe | senior designer
There are the things we do, and there is the purpose behind the things we do.
What makes people act? Decide? Commit? Exchange their time, effort and attention for the thing that you’re offering, when there are so many other choices available?
Not just the immediate and obvious need. There is always another purpose underlying that need. In the backs of people’s minds, often unknown even to themselves, hiding behind “Will this antiperspirant keep me from sweating?” is “Will this help me live the life I want?” Right beside “Who am I?” and “What do I want to be?”
The strongest brands will make people realize why they get out of bed in the morning and position themselves in harmony with that purpose. Either we have some deeper reason driving every tiny thing we do, or we’re all automatons. Our job and that of our clients is to define the human purpose and inspire action in pursuit of it. Wake people up and engage them on that deeper level. There are probably as many ways to define purpose as there are people. It’s not an easy job, but it’s why we get out of bed in the morning.
Justin Hudson | designer
Back to the basics. Know your brand, but more importantly know what your customers say your brand is. In just the past few months, we’ve seen large companies such as Netflix, GoDaddy.com and Bank of America, to name a few, lose sight of their most important asset, their customers, and their brands have paid the price in customer loyalty.
Matt Montgomery | designer
Look for the popularity of internet-connected TVs to grow as developers continue to build on Android’s SDK (software development kit) for Google TV, and Apple will undoubtedly release a new version of its Apple TV with Siri-inspired voice control and other added functionality. As these products gain traction, a new wave of developers will scramble to build apps and TV-optimized sites for this new platform.
Human Centered Design will be seen as more and more of a competitive advantage as companies seek to offer useful services in the digital age. Services like Simple and Flight Card that utilize technology to help make users’ lives easier by making sense of complex information will outpace clunkier, less transparent services.
Ian Fitz | web developer
Browsers automatically and silently update themselves.
Many of the browsers have always prompted that an update was available, and new versions of Internet Explorer and Safari show up in the list of system updates, but both of those things are easy to dismiss. This has kept many web users on older versions of browsers, making it more difficult for us as web developers to use new techniques and features. When Google Chrome was released, it included a silent auto-updater. The browser would update itself automatically without ever asking the user. Recently, Firefox has included a similar feature, and Microsoft has announced that it will turn on silent updates for Internet Explorer with a Windows update coming this year. This will hopefully lead to more users utilizing the most recent versions of their browsers, giving us as web developers more options when building sites for our clients.
Susan Napier-Sewell | content developer, editor
A business blog can provide very beneficial returns for SEO efforts because of the ease in optimizing posts for keywords. Adding links to pages within a site seems more natural when they are part of the text within your posts. Blog posts establish an ongoing conversation, a relationship beyond the usual. Put yourself out there in thought leadership and differentiate your company from the competition.
Anne Brogdon | designer
My 2012 trend is the end of QR codes and similar tags which offer an inelegant solution for connecting the physical to the online. Better solutions will be found and integrated.
Josh Loebner | strategist
Be Real. Understand and utilize real, meaningful content. Know what real content is. Know how to create real content, and know how to share real content. Most importantly, know that you aren’t the only one creating content. The people who both love and hate your brand create content every day with what they share and do.
Transparency, accountability and trust will continue to shape communication efforts. In other words, branding that builds worthwhile, lifelong relationships will rise above more compartmentalized, on-off campaigns. We are in the midst of an increasingly data-driven culture (whether it’s for personal apps or your company’s website) which pushes analytics and metrics to the forefront of success measurements. Make sure those data points are tied to emotional well-being and trust. Simply ask yourself, how can your brand be more transparent, accountable and trustworthy in 2012.
There is a reason the DS10 binary wink symbol was smiling: We have a great deal for which to be happy! It's not a small feat to celebrate 10 years in business, particularly in light of the current global malaise. According to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1 out of 3 small businesses survive 10 years or more. It's a sobering statistic that only further resonates with me now and during the holidays. Indeed, when I look back on the years and our success, the one word that immediately comes to mind is family.
Long before the Designsensory ship set sail, our parents worked hard to cultivate a sense of purpose, passion, curiosity and entrepreneurship. The values they instilled, the lessons they taught and the support they've shown are fundamental to our success and company culture. Our parents continue to be role models of love, hard work and virtue matched only by the unwavering love, support, encouragement our spouses provide on a daily basis.
As I consider our Designsensory evolution, I recognize that--given the amount of time we spend together--we are family. We don't just share projects, we share memories and milestones: engagements, weddings, births and significant life events. When one succeeds, we all succeed. When one is hurting, we all feel it. For me, working, learning and growing with our staff has been the highest privilege of my life. Their trust in each other, and in my leadership, and in Brandon's leadership, is an inspiration and an honor. The Designsensory family pushes us to be better managers, better leaders, better people.
Without the trust of our clients, we would not be here. Period. The lights wouldn't turn on, and we would lack a reason for being. To our family of clients who have entrusted us with their brands, I thank you for the opportunity to serve you, to learn from you, to grow through and with you. Your trust, patience and desire to achieve a better future makes everything we do an incredibly worthwhile journey.
I am proud to say a staggering amount has been accomplished in 10 years, yet I feel as though we've just started to hit our stride. We live in exciting times with so much opportunity. Let us celebrate the past by focusing onward! Here's to a strong 2012, and a long, bright future of great ideas that inspire, connect, transform and produce meaningful results.
Stay hungry, stay foolish, and . . . stay thirsty, my friends! ;-)
Principal & Creative Director, Co-Founder
P.S. Thank you to the members of our staff who worked hard to create the fantastic 10-year evening. In particular, Kelly Raines did an amazing job of coordinating vendors and DSers (myself included) into making decisions and meeting deadlines for the party while trying to juggle the normal craziness.
Vendors (several are DS clients) worked equally hard to put together a magical evening: All Occasions Party Rentals, with the tent and fixtures; Gourmet's Market, with tasty delicacies; Magpies, with delightful cupcake minis; and, Luxe Catering served up fabulous cocktails. As usual, Hart Graphics provided quality print materials in super swift (translate: less than 24 hours) time.
Beautiful flowers were on display, courtesy of Brandon's mother, Suzan Rochelle, and Lindsay's mother, Bekki Brine, while the delicious coffee in our DS10 mugs came from none other than Goodson Brothers Coffee, who has been a local steward of fine coffee since 1882.
'Twas the night before Christmas, with no clients calling.
Not a creative was stirring, not a programmer coding.
DS Basecamp and Freckle were logged with care,
In hopes that client billings soon would be there.
Kelly was sure projects were placed to bed.
While visions of ADDYs danced in DSers' heads.
And, Joseph and Brandon, with all DSers out the door,
Had just left the office--Bah, humbug, clients, no more!
When out of the corner office, there arose such a clatter,
We all turned our heads to see what was the matter.
Away to the door, Paula flew like a flash,
"There’s a new client coming in with loads of cash!"
The moon on the hood of his Benz did show,
This client means business. Let’s go, go, go.
When, what to our wondering eyes did appear,
But a client giving us work . . . no spec to fear.
He delivered a creative brief, so in-depth, yet quick,
We knew in a moment the work would stick.
More rapid than eagles, his demands they came,
As he whistled and shouted each of our names.
Now Joseph and Brandon, Lindsay and Stephan,
Sarah and Ian, Kelly and Anne,
Josh L. and Josh V., two Susans, two Michaels
Paula, Alison, Erin and Matt.
Get to your desks and out of the hall!
Now, design away, write copy and code away, all.
As ideas that during brainstorms take flight,
DSers met with no obstacle tonight.
So, to the keyboards as a team we flew.
With heads full of graphics and coding too.
And, then, in a twinkling, was had an "Aha"!
The writing and drawing of a creative ta-dah.
The client drew in his head and was turning around.
Down the hallway, the bigwig came with a bound.
The creative, how it twinkled, the copy how merry!
The little IA was drawn up like a bow,
And the nav of the site was as clean as fresh snow.
His review of the work, he held tight in his teeth.
While DSers encircled his head like a wreath.
He handed broad praise, and little negativity.
He shook when he said, "I love DS creativity."
"Products will jump right off the old shelf,"
He laughed when he saw the design, in spite of himself.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon told DSers we had nothing to dread.
The client, he spoke not a word, but went straight to the work.
Said, "It’s spectacular," then turned with a jerk.
And, laying his finger aside the pen,
Signed an approval for creative to send.
He sprang to his car and whistled, "It’s done!"
And, away DSers flew, with corrections not one.
But, I heard him exclaim, ere he drove into the night,
"Merry Christmas to all, Designsensory is out of sight!"
Every day, creativity and design are top-of-mind here at Designsensory and, with Halloween near, any excuse to attend an event with costumes and celebrations was more than welcomed. The American Advertising Federation (AAF), Knoxville chapter, recently hosted the second annual Big Wig Awards event, with members of our team among the winners.
Held Halloween week, the evening celebrations were made livelier by many costumed attendees. With my Atari t-shirt, Vans sneakers and corduroy blazer, my disguise was appearing to be a young Wayne Bowman--an industry colleague, AAF member and one of this area’s better-known copywriters.
The awards were created to celebrate the uncelebrated, who have also been instrumental in helping others receive or in nominating others for ADDYs or other creative awards. Enjoying the evening’s lighthearted festivities, I was surprised to hear my name called. I was given the first annual Unsung Hero Award, in appreciation for outstanding dedication and devotion to the principles and ideals of the advertising community.
Needless to say, I was pretty excited and shared a speech that included a short commentary about my personal blog, recognizing the optimism and voice for advertising and disability. The night’s celebrations continued with Haley McCallie, Designsensory’s fall intern, receiving two honors during the evening’s festivities: Best Intern and Graphic Design Student of the Year. We were also glad to see one of our clients, RIVR Media, receive the award for Best Film/Video Production.
Haley McCallie, our fall intern from the University of Tennessee (and AAF Big Wig), recaps her journey here at DS:
When I began the process of looking for an internship for this semester, I already knew that Designsensory was at the top of my list. I have been involved with AIGA since I began the graphic design program at UTK; with Joseph Nother and others from Designsensory a part of AIGA, I knew that they shared similar sensibilities (also, after meeting Joseph, I knew his firm would be a fun place to work). However, even with previous interaction, I was still extremely nervous when I came for my interview. Joseph and Lindsay Miller soon put those feelings to rest. They are so laid-back and personable that, after only a few minutes, you feel as if you have been friends with them for years. After a long conversation, I knew that I really wanted the opportunity to intern here, with their relaxed, fun personalities. I sensed it would be easy to learn from them, and the kind of environment they have created is exactly the kind I hope to permanently work in one day.
When I came to DS, I expected to likely get one big project that I could work on and fine-tune all semester. I hoped for the opportunity to work on branding, websites and/or client relations but, most importantly, learn how a design firm operates and where I will fit in as graphic designer (you know, all that stuff they don't teach you in school). About halfway through my stint at DS, it sunk in that I still have much to learn. There are many things that no one takes the time to teach you in school. After a small and private panic attack, everyone assured me that all new grads start out this way. In our field, we will be constantly inventing, evolving and adapting (if we want to do great work), and this is exactly where I am at this time (even if I wish I were a little closer to the "do great work part").
After almost three months at DS, with my time soon sadly coming to an end, I am happy to report that I now have many projects under my belt--from website rotationals to printed banners to a brand refresh to website design. They have given me the experience of a "real" employee with "real" jobs, while taking the time to supplement my education along the way. Long story short, DS has been everything I expected and more. If that wasn't enough, with their support, I just won two AAF Big Wig Awards (for best intern and graphic design student of the year)! I that doesn't cure my recent battle with senioritis, I don't know what will.
Many thanks to everyone at DS, especially those who have really taken the time to teach me. I hope I've served you well. LONG LIVE DS!
Thanks Haley for your hard work! Interested in a design internship? Contact us to apply.
We're not shy about it. At Designsensory, we're all about parties. We spend many hours together and look forward to championing small victories in each others' lives--birthdays, holidays, baby showers (a relatively recent addition), farewells and weddings.
The same goes with our clients. We work closely together for a period of time and celebrate with them as a project nears completion. This month, we had the pleasure of attending a website preview party for The Legacy Centre for Family Business and Entrepreneurship. The icing on the cake was a preview demo of their soon-to-launch website.
We've worked with Ed and Cindy Seaver over the past few months to create a dynamic website that embodies their vision and offers a rich set of web-based benefits for members. One key feature to the site is an area that gives members access to an expert panel of family-owned business men and women, ready to answer any business-related questions. The Legacy Centre lovingly calls these professionals, "Tennessee's Finest 'Stache' of Quality Experts."
At the party, Cindy took every opportunity to celebrate the newly developed branding for The Legacy Centre, adding sprinkles of "mustachiness" (see photos below).
Like Designsensory, The Legacy Centre knows how to throw a great party! Looking forward to the official launch of their site soon.
As a graphic designer with Designsensory, I help transform ideas into visions. Now, more clearly recognizing what Goodwill Industries-Knoxville embodies, I see how that remarkable organization transforms the lives of their employees and the community. When I came to Designsensory a year ago, I knew Goodwill as a thrift store. Today, I’m a grateful witness to Goodwill’s empowering and continuous contribution.
I just attended my second Goodwill Vintage Fashion Show, where reused fashions are in vogue! To show appreciation for the continued support from the Knoxville community, Goodwill hosts this and several other events each year as fundraisers and to inform people of the organization’s good work.
Models walking the runway aren’t simply fashion-forward. Rather, the volunteers, community members, Goodwill staff and their clients pay it forward, by supporting such a good cause. Designsensory’s pro bono design efforts helped promote the show to the community.
All proceeds from the fashion show go to support Goodwill Industries-Knoxville’s local mission of providing vocational services and employment opportunities to people with barriers to employment.
Through Designsensory’s involvement with Goodwill, I have gotten to observe, firsthand, the impact made by Goodwill job training. We use the Goodwill cleaning service at our office, and over the last year I’ve become acquainted with this cheerful team. Randy, shown here, is a super sports fan, always smiling and asking about our day as he sweeps floors and empties wastebaskets. It feels pretty good to be linked with a program that reaches so many people through Knoxville’s 24 Goodwill stores and five employment training and rehabilitation centers throughout the area.
At Thursday’s Vintage Fashion Show, we heard from a few Goodwill clients who have benefitted from the job training programs. For her 18 years of dedication to Goodwill, Peggy Nenninger was named Goodwill’s International Volunteer of the Year, a very prestigious award decided by Goodwill International’s Volunteer Service Board. After high school graduation, Allison Koontz enrolled in three Goodwill programs. In Work Adjustment, Allison learned basic employment behaviors and work habits; through Driver’s Education, she obtained her license and is now responsible for her own transportation; through Work Keys, Allison received social and life skills training as well as preparation for Pellissippi State Community College’s placement test. Allison is now enrolled in nine hours of classes at Pellissippi State. Jeremy Wallace mastered two Goodwill programs, equipping him to drive and run machinery at Goodwill’s Material Recovery Facility in Russellville, TN. Jeremy also volunteers at the West Hamblen Fire Department and has competed in Goodwill’s Fire and Rescue Challenge.
Overall, I scored some pretty cool new shoes, a retro hip winter coat to cover my ever-expanding pregnant belly and a semiformal dress. I enjoyed a delicious dinner and a fabulous fashion show. Leaving the event, I knew that the entire evening was dedicated to helping people in need. You might say that I’m fresh on the heels of sharing new things about Goodwill every day, including my fantastic new $4 shoes!