Monday, February 18, 2013

Letter from the Editor

Dear Friends,

December 21, 2012, was the worst apocalypse. Ever. And we're glad!

In fact, if 2013 were rails and Hornsby Brand Design was a train, I'd have to say we've left the station, are ahead of schedule, and steaming towards the next junction. Now that we're well into the beginning of the new year with spring on the horizon, we're seeing blue skies...even if it is just for the time being.

One piece of news is that recently, we welcomed Pierce LaMacchia to our team as Account Executive. Previously with another creative firm in Knoxville, Pierce brings exceptional experience, energy, and "engine-uity" to our "train." A public relations graduate from the University of Tennessee, he proactively applies his thought leadership and adept marketing skills as he fosters client relationships. Join us in welcoming him the next time we connect!

Left: Hornsby Brand Design accept four Addy Awards at the 2013 Addy 
Awards Ceremony.

Right: Hornsby Brand Design welcomes new A.E. Pierce LaMacchia.

On another note, Hornsby Brand Design took home four Addy awards from the annual American Advertising Federation of Knoxville Gala held Sat., Feb. 16, 2013, at the newly renovated, historic landmark, South Depot Station. Of the honor, Chris Hornsby, our "conductor", stated, "Our mission has always been to pursue excellence in everything we do...our creativity, our service, our follow-through, everything. We think this is what makes our work unique and most of all successful. We are thankful and humbled by our peers' recognition. It's icing on the cake and we're grateful." The gala is the year's largest gathering of communications professionals – celebrating the creative product produced in Knoxville and the surrounding area.

However, the honors didn't end there. Chris was inducted into the American Advertising Federation of Knoxville's Hall of Fame. This award recognizes notable advertising leaders in Knoxville and the surrounding area for their significant contributions to the advertising industry as well as their personal commitment to society. Congratulations, Chris, on a job well done!

Of course, none of this would have been possible without our great list of clients on board who allow us to do what we do best. So a special thanks and cheers to you! Here's to wishing you the best and more this coming year.

Happy 2013!

Bridget Hornsby

Friday, February 15, 2013

Ride the Wave: Elevate Your Brand with Video Marketing

1.3 billion. That’s the massive number of hits the viral-epidemic music video, Psy's "Gangnam Style," has accumulated on YouTube. The video has captured the mobile and desktop screens of viewers worldwide, and has infiltrated nightclubs, commercials, and radio stations. Not too shabby for a parody video about living the high life in South Korea.*

It's hard to imagine a world without YouTube and its astronomical effects now. It seems to be at minimum a once-per-month event where the next great video release spawns chain emails, dons Facebook posts, and results in a cultural phenomenon. Indeed, the 4 billion hours per month—the time allotment citizens of Earth are tuned in to YouTube*—has produced one of the most massive social swimming pools in our planet's history.

And the addiction is only increasing. Forbes reports that the 72 hours of video uploaded every minute in 2012 is contrasted with 23 hours uploaded every minute in 2010, and 50 hours per minute in 2011.* It's safe to say that, bar a colossal hack-attack, YouTube is here to stay.

And it's not just YouTube that's delivering motion to the masses. Individuals and organizations are offering video on their websites via YouTube or some other platform and have either made out like bandits, wasted their efforts, or fallen somewhere in the middle. Some successful big brand marketers leveraging video are Red Bull, Nike, Ford, and The Home Depot. Examples of smaller brands are Rekonbok, GoPro, and Six Pack Shortcuts. As for brands that are doing it wrong, well... we've all seen them. No need for examples.

But that's the main point of this article: I want to offer a few pointers to help you land your brand at the top in your video marketing endeavors, whether it's being broadcast from your website or on a third-party site. Following are four foundational principles for moving you in the right direction to producing your video: Differentiation and creativity, benefits orientation, quality production, and professional editing. Implement these four, and I know you'll be off to a great start.

1. Differentiation & creativity

The information highway is cluttered with the good, the bad and the ugly, so differentiating your brand through telling your own unique story in a creatively compelling way is critical for your success. Certainly “unique” and “quirky” earned the South Korean rapper, Psy, a place in video history. But it didn’t happen without creativity and strategy. First of all, Psy combined enhanced technology with his keen understanding of the public to deliver humor with a techno bent. His horse-riding, “getty-up” dance was the winning entry from a choreographer’s contest. Additionally, social media and celebrity tweets played a large part in its success. A key strategic move, however, was the purposeful waiving of his copyrights claim, which enabled parodies (such as “Hongdae Style” and “Church Style”) to fuel the fire of his catchy, hilarious song and aid in its virality.* "Gangnam Style" is certainly different and creatively stands out from the rest of the videos with a story of its own, and he’s got the numbers to prove it. 

2. Benefits Orientation

Be sure to create a concept that speaks to your target audience. Obvious, right? Maybe, but it can be hard to do. This is where the elusive "benefits-orientation" principle comes in. To be successful, each and every video must provide unique value to your target audience. All famous brand videos online have at least one thing in common: they appeal to the viewer through the benefits and value they offer, and they do this creatively through humor, inspiration, or social validation. If your video marketing is to be successful, you'll want to hire a professional agency, who will analyze your target, see what interests them, and tell your story in a way that engages the viewer in his/her own sphere. For example, if you're a manufacturer of cribs, then your agency should create a nurturing appeal to pregnant mothers. Promote benefits through story appeal. This will launch you into the video marketing stratosphere. 

3. Quality Production

To prevent your video from looking like a shaky, grainy “America's Funniest Home Video” rerun, hire a professional agency or videographer that has the know-how to provide high-quality video and audio so that your audience can have an enjoyable experience. Having good quality production means that more people are going to invest their time watching your video, share it with friends, and respond to your call to action. 

4. Professional Editing

Around the workshop here at Hornsby Brand Design, we like to remind ourselves that "we live in a time-poor and media-rich environment." While there are some instances where a long video is necessary (for example, an instruction video), cutting to the chase and giving people concise and well-scripted video that tells your story in 2-5 minutes will win more views and shares. Editing makes or breaks a video story. Remember that the ultimate goal is to communicate effectively.

Successfully bringing your services to market via video takes investment and patience, but it’s an effective medium once the stars begin to align. If your message is creative, valuable to your audience, a quality production, and edited professionally, you’ll hit the fast track sooner than you think.


Mobile on the Move: Is Desktop Running Out of Steam?

An increasing part of our business is developing mobile sites and mobile apps, reflective of the societal shift in media usage, of course. In fact, mobile is growing so rapidly and so fiercely that some techs-perts have predicted that desktop computers will go the way of steam engines and the pony express. It's almost become a cliché: “Desktop is dead.”

But is this true? Will mobile devices ultimately replace desktops for good? Will desktops only be found in museums in the next ten to twenty years?

You know, “they” said the same about theaters in the eighties and nineties. With the advent of VCRs and DVDs, pundits asked what reason would people have in forsaking the comfort of their own home and wallets only to deal with the hassle of time schedules, parking, and expense of going to the movie theater? Surely, VCRs and DVDs would replace the movie theater.

Let us answer that in one word: “Bigness,” and as they say in Texas, “big is always better.” One theater chain even uses “Go big or go home.” in one of their campaigns. While there was a decline of theater sales from the mid-eighties through the early nineties, attributed to home video, the theater business has seen a 30% increase in the number of tickets sold since 1995, while DVD sales and rentals are now in a decline. (Just ask bankrupt Blockbusters.) Of course, theaters had to change a few things to survive. We now have cineplexes showing 20 movies at one time, stadium seating, surround sound, larger screens, IMax, and a resurgence of 3D. All good stuff that makes a fun event for the movie-goer. I believe scientists would call this adaptation.

This same philosophy (and then some) applies to the desktop. While mobile devices typically cater to the consumer, desktops typically cater to the producer, i.e. business, and ultimately, that's what makes the world go around. Here are our top five reasons desktops will remain alive and well in 2013 and beyond:
  1. Screen size: Desktop monitors typically run from 21 inches to limitless for external displays while laptops reach a mere 17”. Tablets are around 9.5”, and smart phones...well, you get the picture. Phones definitely have their place in this world, but so does the big screen. In fact, because the smaller screens are space-restricted, special websites and apps have to be created to accommodate them as well as the user's finger, meaning you may not have full access to a website and all the wondrous information and integration that a desktop computer has. As the canvas goes, so goes the painting.
  2. 9-to-5 Ergonomics: Smart phones and tablets are great for couch-potatoing in your recliner as you tweet about the TV show you're watching, but put them on a desk to crunch some numbers and their limitations are quickly evident. Bending over a flat screen on a flat surface for eight hours a day will only increase backaches and neck strains, not your paycheck. The large vertical screen and detached keyboard of a desktop lends itself for better posture during extended computer use. Not even using a tablet stand with a blue-tooth keyboard suffices during an eight-hour shift.
           And speaking about keyboards, information workers want a detached extended keyboard that's not virtual because when you push an “e”, you know it's there by the feel of the key. On a virtual you have to do a double-take to ensure your entry is correct and that your big fingers didn't accidentally hit the “w” instead. Not very efficient for the one who translates a lot of information digitally.
  3. Storage: Ten years ago 64GB of storage was unheard of on a desktop. Now, it's commonplace on tablets and even available on some smart phones. But guess what? That doesn't compare to the TBs that you can get on the cheap for a desktop computer. Consider this: An average family of four stores between 20 to 60 GB of photos and home videos, and that's before iTunes music and app downloads. There are Internet storage options, but they usually require subscriptions and you have to be connected to the Internet to use them, which can also slow down both the upload and download of those files.
  4. Computations. As we've stated, mobile devices currently cater more to consumers than to producers. There are exceptions such as Square credit card reader, where producers use their mobile phones to process credit cards, but ultimately somewhere, somehow, sometime, that transaction needs to be recorded in a bookkeeping database or spreadsheet application, which is usually found on a desktop. Even in an cloud situation, the multi-core processor and rich system memory that a desktop offers parses and delivers that information much, much, more quickly than a mobile device could, if it can at all. Additionally, designers, architects, videographers, and other creatives inherently process large files by virtue of their trade and need big processors to accomplish the task. Desktop to the rescue.
  5. Less abuse. Longer lifespan. Let's face it. Because it's mobile, it will be dropped, lost, left in the cold, left in the heat, just left, or dented, scratched and cracked. It's the nature of things. A desktop, however, is much less likely to receive such abuse and, by extension, will last longer.
What will likely happen in the future is that the desktop, like the theaters, will evolve and change. Who knows what desktops will look like in the future...Ironman holograms? MI6 touch boards with voice activation instead of keyboards? What the past tells us is that the sky is the limit. What the present tells us is that theaters have outlasted VCRs, businesses will still need to do business, and mobile devices and desktops are not mutually exclusive.


“Yearly Box Office.” Box Office Mojo.

“Movie Ticket Sale Surpass DVD Revenue.” D. McIntyre. Jan. 4, 2010. Daily Finance.

“Talking Points: Ticket Prices.” The National Association of Theatre Owners.

The Mobile Solution...What's Right for Your Business?

Mobile is exploding in all directions--tablets, mini-tablets, smart phones, iPods, laptops, and more. Unlike a website built for large viewing on a desktop (a bigger canvas, so to speak), the mobile site is designed to appear on a much smaller handheld display, so it naturally requires a different solution than your desktop version. Some things to consider in mobile web development include the following:

  • Smaller canvas – Smaller screens mean the text needs to be larger and graphic elements need to be more limited. 
  • Window monogamy – On a mobile device only one window at a time can be viewed while on a desktop computer multi-open-windows allow for multi-tasking. 
  • Fat fingers – Because mobile devices are touch screens, navigation loses some flexibility by generally being limited to scrolling and swiping, instead of implementing the finesse of pointing and clicking with a mouse. 
  • Drive-thru pages only, no cafeterias – Mobile devices are much more limited in the type of online page options they can process. For instance, secured connections, Flash sites or other similar software, video sites, PDFs, etc. can't be accessed by many mobile devices. However, things are improving rapidly in this area. 
  • A snail's pace – On most mobile devices, the speed of service can be slow, sometimes slower than dial-up Internet access due to broadband and processor limitations. 

So, as a business, how do you accommodate all these devices and limitations and still reach your customers? There are several right answers within the world of mobile, but first you have to know what those options are and which one is right for you. The mobile highway contains four lanes to your destination: Responsive mobile website, mobile-specific website, a mobile web app, and a native web app.

Responsive Mobile Websites—Resized or Reformatted?

A responsive mobile website responds to changes in the size of a browser window by adjusting the width and its content to fit the space available. It is easy to update, cross-platformed, and optimized for search. There are two approaches in building a responsive mobile website: resized or reformatted. A resized responsive mobile website is scalable, meaning it is the same as the desktop website, but it can be pinched down, up, to the side, or zoomed in. The benefits of this option are that it is the most cost-effective and contains the identical information that is on the desktop website. The reformatted responsive mobile website is a limited version of the desktop website reorganized, meaning it can have elements removed from the original desktop website (such as images, blog entries, and other components), so that what remains are the bare necessities, a simplified mobile version of the desktop. The benefits of this option are that it is cost-effective, eliminates the need for pinching and expanding for readability, and reduces load time by removing any element that can tax the mobile processor.

ptcunited samples
The Resized Responsive Mobile Website in this example above presents a miniature, scalable version of the desktop website. All elements are present and can be pinched larger for readability. This is the most cost-effective mobile solution, but depends on the methodology of the desktop development to be a viable option.

The Reformatted Responsive Mobile Website in this example above captures the essence of the main website with elements (such as videos, images, special integration, etc.) that require extra processing removed for mobile compatibility. All content information is pulled from the same database the desktop draws its content from.

Mobile-Specific Website

A mobile-specific site is one that is designed completely separate from the desktop. Its design and content keep the integrity of the brand, but the mobile-specific site is experientually and exclusively designed with the mobile user in mind (i.e., large buttons instead of links, menus that fill the screen, swipe capability to accommodate touch screens, and limited and optimized use of photography and video to cater to the smaller processing capabilities). The hierarchy of information is pared down from the desktop, directing mobile users to their likely purpose more quickly. A mobile-specific site is either automatically redirected from the desktop URL according to the the device's screen size or it has its own URL altogether. The benefits of this option are that it is a cost-effective solution (albeit typically more than responsive options) and is designed specifically with touch screen nuances and mobile-user engagement in mind.

Mobile Specific Websites have their own design and URL or redirect to cater specifically to the mobile user and the touch screen environment. It's the best option if you have a highly interactive desktop site built in Flash, a highly engaging site, or want to cater and market to the mobile-user. They typically cost more to develop than responsive solutions, but are less costly than app development.

Native Mobile App

Native apps are downloaded applications–from, for example, Apple's App Store, Google Play, or from other online application-related resources—and then installed on a mobile device, eliminating the need for a browser. The name is derived from the fact that these apps are written in the same language as the operating system of the device they are installed on. The native app can interface with the device's native features, information, and hardware (camera, GPS-location, etc.), and usually perform faster than mobile web apps. However, this product can cost more because it takes a good deal of time to develop. A separate app must be developed for each operating system to work on every device: Java (Android), Objective-C (iOS), and Visual C++ (Windows and Mobile).

The benefits of choosing this mobile option solution include a superior, feature-rich mobile-user experience; mobile-optimized performance; a polished look and smooth navigation; and the capacity to maximize the software and hardware capabilities of smartphones, such as GPS, the camera, push notifications, and the accelerometer. Additionally, users can access and use native apps when they're offline, which you can't do with mobile websites or mobile web apps. Note: Some native apps also require Internet connection for updates and data integration even though they are actually installed on the device.

Mobile Web App

While mobile web apps appear similar to the native app (most mobile users can't tell the difference), they differ in the manner in which they are built and rendered. Unlike native apps, a mobile app requires an Internet connection and a browser (at least initially) as it is not actually installed on the user's device but rather implemented from a web server.

A mobile web app is a hybrid of a mobile-specific website and a native app. The biggest advantage to a web app, besides the look and feel, is the enormous cost savings as well as the reduced development time. Because most Android-based products and iOS (iPhone, iPod, and iPad) leverage sophisticated mobile browsers (i.e. Mobile Chrome and Mobile Safari), mobile web apps are an excellent alternative to the more expensive native app. They are easy to update, cross-platform-developed, optimized for search and analytics, and can work double-duty as a mobile website and a native app. A web app can even be made available for "download" from your homepage or from an app store.

Another advantage a web app has over a native app is that the mobile user never has to "update," because the "updates" are controlled by the company, meaning the company ensures that the mobile user has the latest version of its app. Some Goliath examples of web-based apps are Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, eBay, and many more. Benefits to mobile web apps are that it can deliver broad, constantly changing content like a news readers or sports score site; is more cost-effective than a native app to develop; is much easier to include advertising as a source of revenue than a native app; and is not subject to the approval process and revenue sharing agreements that the App Store, Google Play and the like require.

Now that you know what mobile solution options are out there, which one will help you reach your destination? First of all, it's important to always keep your mobile users and their needs in mind by asking yourself a few questions...
  • What is your budget? 
  • What is the purpose of the mobile site? Information only? E-commerce? Entertainment? Personal account access? 
  • What kind of interactivity or features do you require? (And what kind would you like?) 
  • Do you need to access mobile devices' capabilities? If so, which ones? 
  • How is your desktop site built? 
  • What kind of data mining do you need to retrieve? 

Answers to these questions, and more, will help determine the best route for your company. Navigating the mobile information highway can lead you through some rough terrain, but with a good mobile strategy, you'll find yourself cruising the highway with the sun at your back.

To CMS or Not To CMS? That is the Question.

In the world of web development, many acronyms are thrown about like a volleyball game: HTML, CSS, ASP, PHP, API, SQL, AS3, CMS, OS, iOS, C+, and so many more. It can be daunting, to say the least, to enter this letter-littered world. That's why I'd like to implement a journalistic acronym, KISS (Keep It Simple, Simon), with regards to one particular acronym getting a lot of buzz that can greatly impact and ease how you build your website...CMS, Content Management System.

CMS is a means to an end, a web tool, but it's only one option in a sea of options. Creative websites can be built using any of the popular CMS platforms (namely WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal) or not. It all depends on your needs and the scope of work. Each website is developed with different goals, purposes, and objectives, therefore not all websites are created equal, ergo not all websites should be built the same way.

So what is CMS? According to Wikipedia, “A content management system (CMS) is a computer program that allows publishing, editing and modifying content as well as maintenance from a central interface. Such systems of content management provide procedures to manage workflow in a collaborative environment.”

Basically, the function of content management systems is to have an interface that acts as a portal to your website's database or file system to edit the content on your website easily. CMS features vary widely from system to system, and most include management, revision control, indexing, search, and retrieval. You can think of it as your own digital index or warehouse of the products and or services you provide in the storefront...your website. It gives access and control to the database and file system that houses the text and embedded graphics, photos, video, audio, and other interactive code that controls your site.

When should you use a CMS? In a nutshell, it comes down to the frequency of updates and the degree of technical know-how required to update content on your site. If you need to update your site frequently and want to hire an in-house administrator who may be limited with regards to website programming skills, then a CMS is ideal for you. If your site is high design and is a technically complicated build, then a CMS may not be the best solution for you. Take a look at the chart below displaying the benefit of implementing a CMS or not.


Code Control: Some, though not all, web programming code is generated by the CMS as the website is built, which can increase the server requirements to process the code. However, most CMSs will allow you to build a customized design and to optimize the code for quick processing.
Bells and Whistles: The availability of many features enables a CMS to accomplish most tasks, such as videos, slide shows, engaging menus, image galleries, PDF uploads/downloads search capability, etc., when it comes to web design.

Blogs, Forums, and Registration Requirements: If a blog or forum is needed, or if guests need to log-in for whatever purpose, CMS is the answer.

Frequent Updates and Multi-Users: If your website needs to be updated regularly and/or is run by a group of users with various levels of permissions, you should opt for a CMS. They offer an administration panel that allows the non-technical person to tweak, modify and run a website effectively and efficiently. CMSs also offer excellent editorial control over the content, and better user management that keeps the integrity of the web design.

Security: Most CMSs release new updates/fixes/ patches on a regular basis. Reason: a CMS invites more hackers than a hard-coded (custom) website.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Many CMSs provide built-in SEO encoding.

ADA Compliance: Most CMS sites are built within ADA compliance guidelines.

Maintenance Time: Actual content can be updated easily and quickly in real time. However, updates of features are frequent (mostly for security purposes) and can be somewhat involved post development.


Customization and Code Control: Most CMSs allow some level of customization. But when you want something more unique on a specific page, like a real-time stock ticker, a weather display, or a calendar, special coding is required. Building a site outside of a CMS gives complete control over the code without built-in interference, duplication and overlap. While writing extensive code without using a CMS system requires proficient technical savvy, it also allows access to every detail. Additionally, because you are no longer restricted by platform-specific limitations, you can design and craft individual components of the website manually. Your website can have more personality and creativity because you're not bound by a CMS.

Static Pages: If you won't need to change the content on your website very often, it would probably be overkill to integrate a CMS into the workflow.

Security: Customized coding can make a site less susceptible to hackers.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Customized SEO code will need to be incorporated by a skilled web developer.

ADA Compliance: A web developer must be knowledgeable about ADA compliance.

Maintenance Time: While custom-coding your website can be more time-consuming initially, it can also reduce the time and effort required in maintenance of the website because a professional web technician/developer will manage this for you. Additionally, there are no CMSs and their features to update or uninstall, which is a regular occurrence.

Your most important goal? A compelling user-experience. In this information-rich, time-poor world we live in, it only makes sense to build websites that employ foundational elements to ensure success and the most-cutting edge features to break through the clutter and get your story out there. In building your website, regardless of whether it's a CMS-based site or not, programming languages and site features should always be implemented to execute creativity, appeal, and interactivity.

Things That Make You Say, "Hmm"

nike flames

Fire and brimstone of another sort: Nike's Air Bakin', Air BBQ, Air Grill, and Air Melt shoes were recalled for a flame embellishment incorporated on the back. The flames resembled the Arabic word for "Allah" when read front to back, which is how Arabic is read. This broke two Islamic taboos:

  • The name of Allah may not be used on a product.
  • Arabic tradition deems the foot unclean.

Nike recalled the expensive sneakers upon threats of worldwide protests and boycotts.
On the upside, in China, Nike's brand name is Naike, which references "endurance" and "perseverance."

Chris Hansen (TV reporter for "To Catch a Predator") never had it this easy!

Note to self....

Perhaps some sensitivity training is in order.

Yum. Organic sand. Milk's best friend.


Have you ever wondered who's behind that little voice in your head that tells you, "you're in this by yourself, one person doesn't make a difference, so why even try?"

His name is Fear. Fear plays the role of antagonist in the story of your life. You must rid yourself of him using all necessary means. 

We're often impressed by those who appear to be fearless. The people who fly to the moon. Chase tornadoes. Enter dangerous war zones. Skydive. Speak in front of thousands of people. Stand up to cancer. Raise money and adopt a child that isn't their flesh and blood. So, why are we so inspired by them? 

Because deep down, we are them.

We all share the same characteristics.

We're all divinely human.

Until Fear is gone, (and realize he may never completely leave) make the decision to be courageous. The world needs your story in order to be complete. 

--By Anne Jackson. Anne Jackson blogs, tweets, and writes books. Her most recent work, Permission To Speak Freely: Essays and Art on Fear, Confession and Grace, will be available in August.

The Brand Glossary...Learning the ABC's of Branding

Brand Harmony The ideal brand status where all touch points and products that fall under a particular brand have consistency with regards to the name, visual identity and brand positioning across all its markets.
Brand Personality The means to brand differentiation by applying human personality traits (fun-loving, earnest, exciting, conservative, etc.) to it. It is usually accomplished through long-term efforts of achieving brand harmony. These traits demonstrate brand behavior through all touch points, including communication pieces as well as the people who represent the brand—its employees.
Touch Point (also contact point, point of contact) A touch point is any encounter where customers engage with a business to exchange information, provide service, or handle transactions.
Visual Identity Anything with regards to the appearance of the brand that appropriately exhibits the essence of the brand--including, but not limited to, its logo, typography, packaging and marketing materials and elements.

The Creative Corner: Thinking Outside the Box

No more excuses!

"You can either fight or die," were the ringing words of Hernando Cortez, Spanish explorer, to his men upon landing at Veracruz and burning his own fleet of ships. This one act and statement eliminated the option of surrender or retreat. It was a no-excuses-allowed command. What excuses do you need to burn in order to reach your objectives?