Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Letter from the Editor: Reinvention Can Graduate Us

Dear Friends,

Recently, I heard an inspiring commencement speech made to the Dartmouth College Class of  ’11, by famed comedian, Conan O’Brien. Delivered in the humor that only O’Brien possesses, he stated, “Your path at 22 will not necessarily be your path at 32 or 42. One's dream is constantly evolving, rising and falling, changing course…after 25 years of obsessively pursuing my dream, that dream changed.” He was referencing, of course, of his unpleasant and highly public dismissal from hosting The Tonight Show in 2010, hailing the position itself the “ultimate goal of every comedian to host,” the definition of success, “the Holy Grail.”

Adding that we are not defined by job or career goals met or unmet, he expressed that the beauty of disappointment, which we all encounter, is the gain of clarity, conviction, and true originality. “It's not easy, but if you accept your misfortune and handle it right, your perceived failure can become a catalyst for profound re-invention.”

I draw inspiration from O’Brien’s words, knowing that his intent is that this broad stroke can apply to all areas of life, defining our character and enhancing our ability to succeed whatever the application, career and business…family…self.

Dreams do change over the passage of time, but it’s that profound reinvention that can graduate us from mere imitation to true success and satisfaction in life and business.

All that being said, as one of my favorite local radio talk show hosts (Hallerin Hilton Hill) always signs-off with: “I know you’ve got dreams. My question is, what are you going to do about them?”

Bridget Hornsby

“Architect of Change”: 3 Steps to Growth

Whether you are growing an existing company or starting a new one, change happens…cutting-edge technology, partner/employee transitions, the addition or removal of services and/or products or tectonic economic shifts, just to name a few. It takes skill, attention to detail, and a finger on the world’s pulse to create a blueprint for successful change. Being an architect of change can be a massive undertaking. However, internalizing the 3 steps below will put you on a firm foundation to getting started, staying on top, or just refreshing your memory.

  1. Know where you are headed. 
    Seems obvious, but these words are not always heeded. Don’t cut corners. Plan for both professional and personal outcomes. Define the conditions of satisfaction: growing professionally, making a profit, giving back, having fun, etc. Share these with your team and/or organization, be prepared to stand by them, draw on them to overcome the fear of change, and use them for targeted action.

  2. Evaluate the situation and set the direction.
     Find out what’s working and what isn’t. When urgency is needed, remember, as the leader of change, this is not a democracy. When someone is “Code-Red” you don’t hold a committee meeting to decide whether to give CPR or not, do you? Of course not, so do what needs to be done, make the hard decisions (which can sometimes be unpopular), take responsibility for your actions, and continue to move forward.

  3. Grab the reins and “git movin.”  
    From the boardroom to the mail room, establish direction and vision, cultivate buy-in, and consistently be your team’s guide. Motivate them to believe that the best days are ahead and that there is a goal worth achieving. Remember, that you set the mood. From happy-hour Fridays, a new coat of paint in the break-room, to letting naysayers go, “Whatever it takes” should be your mantra.

Sometimes it can be a lonely experience out in front of the heard, but as the architect of change you are charged with leading your company toward success and that means knowing where you are headed, having a vision, establishing a plan, and sometimes steering through bumpy rides. However, having the satisfaction of accomplishing your goals is, as MasterCard aptly puts it, “priceless.”

Memphis MPO on the Move with New Logo and Website

Hornsby Brand Design is proud to announce the launch of their latest logo and web design and development project for the Memphis Urban Area MPO (memphismpo.org) on June 3, 2013.

The Memphis MPO is a doorway to this region’s growth and future. So, the logo was designed by taking the “M” in Memphis and creating a doorway with an infinite path to the future. Additionally, it also does a triple play by being a building block as well as a gauge for community growth.

The website takes these same ideas and conveys them throughout through the look and feel, and the functionality of the site. Developed within the Drupal content management system, in a responsive design framework, the Memphis MPO was looking for a complete website solution (design, development, training, support, maintenance, and hosting) along with a new logo, and rebranding.

Overall, the finished product needed to be educational and informative regarding transportation issues facing the Memphis MPO, user-friendly, and attractive. The website incorporates a calendar of activities, interactive indexing of transportation projects, a photo gallery, language translation, and surveying capabilities. It also implements SEO-optimization to maximize its reach and is, of course, mobile phone and tablet friendly.

Key Features 
  • Responsive design 
  • An extensive menu with multiple connection points
  • Beautiful brand photography throughout
  • Slide shows 
  • Engaging, intuitive design and navigation
  • Polling capabilities 
  • Search features
  • Client portals 
  • Contact forms 
  • A media center 
  • Live social media streaming and integration 
  • Calculable Performance “Gauges”
  • V-cards 
  • A localized environmental widget
  • Calendar with Google Calendar and iCal integration

In addition to a cutting-edge responsive website the Memphis-MPO also wanted a very easy-to-use administrator CMS system where updating is made easy.

CMS Features 
  • A password-protected CMS area dedicated to the administrator with easy-to-use navigation. 
  • The ability to register new users, control access, and create updates with ease. 
  • A complete set of comprehensive tools for in-depth editing, adding, and deleting of videos, photos, additional pages, navigational control, tracking, and more. 
  • A help section (users manual) design to answer any question 24/7.
  • Easy form creation with CAPTCHA integration.

Revolution or evolution?

Does your logo/identity need a complete overhaul or just some modifications to make it relevant? Which step to take depends on the current status and future direction of your brand’s marketing position. To the left are some examples of how a few famous brands have evolved their logos.

Google Panda: Improve Your SEO Rankings with Google’s 23 Tips

In Feb. 2011, Google introduced Google Panda, an SEO algorithm using AI (artificial intelligence) that gave preference to quality websites over lean ones or ones that contained lots of advertising. (The new criteria for quality includes design, trustworthiness, speed, and return rates. It does this by ranking the site as a whole, instead of individual pages as was once the norm.) The main purpose was to level the playing field and penalize sites that are using duplicate content and link building.

In fact, in its continuous climb for a better, quality Internet, Google released another significant improvement in SEO on May 27, 2013. According to Google,

“In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share.” 

This statement replaced the previous line, which read,

“In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages.”

So in light of this, what are some practical tips on building a quality site that will rank on the first page? Google's number one is to ensure that your site provides high quality content. The better the quality and quantity of content, the higher you will rank in Google. Basically, you need to ask yourself what will the average user find useful when they search for a keyword related to your site.

To help with this endeavor, Google offers twenty-three tips without, of course, revealing their top-secret algorithms in their official blog: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/05/more-guidance-on-building-high-quality.html

Upon reflection, Google Panda is actually in line with our branding philosophy here at Hornsby Brand Design, which is to build trust, offer quality, originality, professional design, and attention to detail. Basically, a successful site is user-centric.

Let us know if we can help with SEO implementation that will make your content king.

Online Reviews: How Important are They?

Bright Local just released the findings from its Local Consumers Review Survey 2013, revealing that 67% of consumers read up to 6 online reviews before deciding on a product or service.

According to the Survey,

“Consumers are forming opinions faster now than before. They are reading less reviews before they decide if they trust and want to use a local business.
“This means that local businesses need to manage their online reputation even more closely than before. They need to ensure that their most recent reviews are positive because this is what they are being judged on. They need to ‘manage’ out bad reviews and focus on generating regular, fresh, positive reviews.”

Additionally, the Survey found that 73% of consumers say positive customer reviews make them trust a business more (up from 58% in 2012).

“Consumers are becoming more trusting of online reviews and using them to form opinions (both positive & negative) about local businesses. These entities can’t afford to let their online reputations lie idle or unmanaged as a negative reputation will directly impact customer acquisition and ultimately their revenue.”

Things That Make You Say “Hmm.”

‘Jolly Green Giant’ translates into ‘Intimidating Green Monster’ in Arabic. Try getting your kids to eat their veggies with that terminology.

For those who want their pork to have a healthy workout before being eaten.

But it’s so tempting…

We must be in Colorado or Washington State.

Our tax dollars at work.

What about carrot phones?

No wonder the lines are so long.

Creative Corner: Thinking Outside the Box

"If you don't like what they're saying about you, change the subject." -Don Draper

Even though Don Draper is a fictitious character from the Mad Men TV show, this advertising truism has stood the test of time. If you don't like what's being said about your brand, change the subject and talk about something else. Be bold enough to take command of the conversation and alter the story.