Thursday, November 11, 2010

KAT-itudes & Gratitudes

KAT's System Map Brochure Awarded Top Honors

The 2010 Knoxville Area Transit (KAT) System Map garnered first place for "Best Cartographic Presentation" at the annual TNGIC East Tennessee Regional GIS Conference held Oct. 8, 2010, at the University of Tennessee. Hornsby Brand Design designed the piece then worked closely with MPC GIS Specialist Ryan Justice to create the map portion of KAT’s System Map brochure, which features KAT’s 25 fixed routes integrated with realistic terrain features. This feat was accomplished by combining KGIS* base-map data with an innovative hillshading technique pioneered by National Park Service Cartographers.

Read the article by KGIS* HERE.

*KGIS is the computer systems managing office for the City of Knoxville, Knox County, and KUB and oversees computer-based maps for the entire geographic area of Knox County.

NEW KAT Commericial Airs!

Hornsby Brand Design recently completed production of Knoxville Area Transit's 60-second TV commercial "Getting Noticed." This music-video style commercial features the 1960s song by the Hollies, "Bus Stop" and airs on local stations throughout the month of November.

View KAT Commercial in a new window.

 Or view here:


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Responsible Branding

One financial adviser and radio personality introduces his program with “The paid-off home mortgage has taken the place of the BMW as the status symbol of choice.” This is one evidence of how the economy is changing perspectives and priorities: financial responsibility is now a popular concept. And that’s not the only change taking place during this challenging time. Materialism and self-reward is being displaced by social awareness, with hot news topics ranging from the environment to race relations to community activism and involvement. It’s no longer about the “bling” and power grab; the new status symbol is to make a difference in the world and be responsible.

So how does that relate to branding? Well, just as people are evolving socially and relationally, so brands need to evolve socially and relationally. The broad and easy access of communication already gives the public product information and facts such as price and availability. Brands have to rise above the strictly functional performance of a given product and demonstrate “added value” that connects with the consumer where they are at emotionally. Brands need to identify with consumers’ values and communicate that effectively. They need to be just as involved in making the world a better place, be it environmentally, fiscally, or socially.

The Internet, iPods, and smart phones have tapped out the singularly logical, “just-the-facts,” “left brain” of society, so that now the trend is that consumer’s purchasing decisions are increasingly being made by the more emotional and experiential “right brain.” They are not dismissing logic, but rather they are combining the rational and analytical with the imaginative, artistic side of the brain in the quest for a balanced mind.

The strongest and most vibrant brands will be those that are meaningful and consistent all the while being innovative enough to break through the information overload. Successful brand managers are going back to the old business practices of developing relationships and trust with consumers, promoting the idea of traditional values while using the latest technology to do it.

A great example of this is Liberty Mutual. Their commercial (see below) shows people performing one good turn after another—like the inspirational movie, Pay It Forward—and then ends with “When people do the right thing, we call it being responsible. When it's an insurance company, they call it Liberty Mutual." They even have sections of their websites entitled "Culture and values" and "Philanthropy and community involvement" instead of the clichéd "About Us" and "Press Room." They are connecting with people relationally and emotionally with their brand.

With this in mind, the question to ask is, "Is your brand socially aware and connecting with people?" If not or if you're not sure, we can help. Just contact us.

View Liberty Mutual's commercial here:

The Creative Corner: Thinking Outside the Box...

When a college professor drew a dot on the smart board, he asked the class what it was.

"A dot," was the only response he received.

"That's funny," said the professor. "I did the same test with kindergartners. They saw fifty different things from a bug to an owl's eye to a pig's head. Apparently, they were more creative and imaginative in their thinking."

What would a kindergartener see in your project?

Things That Make You Say, "Hmm"....

Communication faux pas from around the world...


Sure, but do I have to leave a tip?

Yes, they can get a little out of hand...

English? Anyone?

I guess it grows in the winter in Asia.

Can I order a side of sanitized Wi-Fi with that?

3 Principles of a Building an In-House Brand School

One of the key means of building a successful and sustainable brand is to create an internal brand school within your organization, one in which the student body consists of all of your employees. This organization within an organization not only helps define your brand but will foster ownership of the company’s goals with every employee, increasing visibility of unified message that reaches the public and ultimately your consumer.

First: Focus all your company energies on genuine dedication to client-centricity and build relationships. Don’t offer just lip service or a laundry list of product features. Survey your customers and document areas of success and areas of needed improvement. Create a strategy for raising the level of client-centricity. Establish that the company is ready and willing to evolve to this end, with buy-in from top management. They must lead by example.

Second: Invest in great employees and give them greater importance. Employees up and down the age scale are increasingly seeking more than just straight compensation. They are looking for greater meaning and purpose in their place of employment. This not only benefits them personally but increases employee satisfaction, giving your clients a better experience with your company.

Third: Make this a company-wide mission; don’t just limit client-centricity to the sales force or the other branches directly in touch with the end user. From the CEO down to the janitor, all need to be the brand’s biggest and best spokesperson, aligned behind the same values and brand message. Then, just as the educational institutions do, reward those employees who embrace your company's brand successfully with recognition.

The Visual Language of Your Brand: Does It Speak to Your Customers?

AUTHENTICITY - The bench mark for all brands: With markets flooded by the abundance of choices, consumers are being drawn towards brands they believe to be trustworthy and dependable. The word “Authentic” derives from the Greek authentikós, which means “original.” As consumers renew their affection for brands that provide a sense of safety and reliability, authenticity has become the new brand value of choice. Attributes such as genuine and true are the proof points for these brands. Authenticity is all about practicing what you preach; being totally clear about who you are, what you stand for and how you must behave to demonstrate that. Over the past year we have seen a prevalence of authentic cues in advertising, packaging and brand identity of many brands. These authentic cues have come in the form of story-telling, product development and of course, visual language. Brands such as Levis and Harley Davidson have long been regarded as brands steeped in authenticity. The visual language of a brand image is rich with cues of their heritage. Many brands are seeking to re-tell their stories, digging back into their past to unearth their own authentic visual language.
AFFORDABLE LUXURY - Keeping the bank intact: Consumers are toning-down their major purchases due to the weakening economy while staying at-home to re-connect and enjoy the finer things in life is fueling the popularity of affordable luxury items. These luxuries are often seen as a pamper, or reward that won't break the bank. Fewer people are going out and buying a $3000 Plasma, preferring to "invest" in a tub of gourmet ice cream, a nice bottle of wine and a Saturday night out with the miss’ in a five-star hotel. As a result, many brands, especially in retail and hospitality, are seeking to repackage themselves.
PERSONALITY - Clear and defined: Clearly defined brand personalities are being leveraged as a powerful force to creating a distinctive brand experiences. Brand personality is usually associated with brands projecting a happy or zany persona, but within any market, relative to competitive brands, your persona can be anything - stylish elegant, technically nerdy, quirky, artistic, or obsessively driven – as long as it has relevance, appeal and authenticity to your market. Often when we think of brands with a distinctive personality we picture larger brands like Apple or Coke. But businesses of all sizes and in all markets can leverage the differentiating advantages and create brand charisma with a strategically considered brand personality.
URBAN ATTITUDE - The growth of the urban audience: Typically this group is made-up of people in the before kids and after kids (or the no kids at all) stages of life. These 20-50 year olds who chooses to live in inner urban areas are driven by different values and mind-sets. The brands that appeal to this market are typically closer to the edge, new, different and less traditional. The urban market is often where new ideas form and take hold before spreading to the mass market. As a result, there’s great motivation for many brands to claim a stake in the inner urban, but it's not easy. The visual language of ‘Urban Attitude’ will have the edge.
6 Questions you should ask about your brand's visual language...

  1. Have you consciously considered the messages your brand identity is communicating?
  2. Have you compared your brand identity to those of your competitors and the leaders in your market?
  3. Does your brand have a distinctive voice when it speaks?
  4. Where does the strongest authenticity reside for your brand and how is your visual language reflecting it?
  5. What unique story does your brand tell and what visual cues do you have which assist with that story telling?
  6. If your brand’s visual language needs enhancement, do you have a brand design specialist capable of helping you?