Thursday, December 17, 2015

2016: The Year of the Big Three...

As 2015 rounds the last lap, it's time to start building your branding plan for 2016. Here are three prompts to get you started:

  1. The Presidential Election: What is its impact on branding? Money and media congestion. If trends hold up, candidate and Super PAC advertising will drive media prices up 7 to 15% this year as well as filling up the airways. This applies to digital and social media as well. Some ways to maneuver your advertising plan during an election year:
  • Avoid booking during surge times such as two-weeks around both the primary and presidential elections. 
  • Plan ahead and buy early and be flexible and ready for changes.
  • Don't rely on just one medium, especially TV. 
  1. Foundations: What do I do and why should my customer care? Launch the new year by getting back to these basics, then make a plan to build on them.
  • Connect your brand with your customer: What is the relevance of your product or service to a customer's lifestyle? Connect your brand to the prospect's daily activities by selling the benefits instead of the features.
  • Review and support your brand promise: Springboard off your company's benefits to develop its brand promises. Then develop sound reasons why your customer should believe them. Then implement a plan on how you are going to follow-through.
  • Develop a clear and focused brand message: Strategy requires focus, clarity, and detail. Are your messages in line with what you want to convey about your company, products, and services? In what ways are your products and services more "genuine" than your competitors'? Emphasize those aspects of your brand to leverage your competitive edge.
  1. Customer Consent: How can I get my customer to want to interact with me? With ad blocking, digital clutter, increased spamming, and broadcast avoidance (read our article on iTV), brands need to aggressively find ways to cut through to reach their customer. 
  • Listen to your customer: Cultivate a dialog with your customer before, during and AFTER the sale. 
  • Ad-blocking (see our article on ad-blocking): The invasion of pop-ups, particularly on mobile devices, has invited a deluge of ad-blocking software. Gain permission to advertise and then use the opportunity to give your potential customers something of value. 
  • Build trust: "It takes 10 good deeds to undo one bad one." That's how fragile trust is. Be authentic and transparent in all your dealings with your customer; be clear about any changes impacting your product line or service offerings; be prompt, responsive, and thorough. 
The "Rule of Three" states that "Good things come in threes." Implement these points and watch your business grow.

Transit Branding: Change minds. Train minds.

Today, transit agencies across the US are taking an active and creative role in their approach to ridership promotion and branding. With a massive shift in design and communication technologies, urban development, and a cultural shift among young professionals, new ways of communicating transit benefits have evolved. With our current culture's love affair with the car, the only way to win the battle with this stiff competition is to reprogram public sentiment...not only change minds, but train them.

There's no such thing as a silver bullet. It's never just one thing, it's always multiple things working together in order to properly communicate who you are and why you matter.

In our years of experience, we've found that the "cool factor" is very relevant to the younger demographic and should be used. Training them to think different about transit is the key toward building what we call "transit champions." This group will not only ride religiously, but tell their friends and families about their experience as well, becoming evangelists. Brand cultivation and marketing to this mother-load of new riders should be each and every transit system’s main goal and objective. Their success will depend on it.

We all know that discretionary riders are the ones who can make a transit agency truly successful. This means every consumer touch-point is important and valuable toward breaking through the media clutter that surrounds this target: from marketing, advertising, and communications (both internally and externally), smart planning, and strategy, to tactics like correct naming, packaging, signage, collateral, copy-writing, advertising, uniforms, and visual design. Every piece of your program should be reviewed and considered.

It comes as no surprise that in order to develop a sophisticated marketing plan with goal-driven, tactical implementation you'll need a team of seasoned professionals to help show you the way.

As we work with many transit groups from all over the country, we continue to see firsthand how branding is making a real difference in customer perception and change of behavior. We joke with our clients and say, "If we can sell transit, we can sell anything." They usually laugh because they understand how difficult change is. They understand the corporate transit culture and how hard it is for transit agencies to embrace innovative marketing techniques. It requires a significant shift in gears, because most agencies focus on service: complex tasks of routing, scheduling, and deployment day in and day out.

Transit agencies contemplating a new branding program will be well served to include a qualified branding firm in its seminal planning stages and initial meetings. The branding firm’s experience and helpful focus will benefit transit agencies enormously as they plan for increased ridership and better brand awareness and perception.

iAdvertising: Harnessing the Information Highway on TVs

Did you notice the commercial breaks during the Republican debates? While Fox is mum on the ad revenues it received from the first debate, it was a big payoff for CNN with its record viewership at 23 million for the second debate. Three hours commanded a price tag for ads that were 40 times its usual rate. (1) This monetary success inspired CNBC to up its ad pricing 25% for the GOP's third debate in October. (2)

However, ad revenues for broadcast networks and cable companies are down overall. (3) In fact, Forbes Magazine reports that "old media [i.e., television programming] is imploding at a fantastic pace right now."(4)

One reason is that viewers are "cutting the cord" to cable and satellite companies, opting instead to dish up their own channel line-up. The landscape for advertising opportunities is definitely changing. In fact, Wired Magazine reports that "about 7.6 million households have cut the cable cord" and that "53 percent of cable customers say they would leave their cable provider if they hand another viable alternative for TV". (5)

The pump is primed for the subscription-based cafeteria: Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. These are familiar brands that have forged their way into our lives via the Internet, by-passing cable and satellite companies AND... their preselected, predetermined, 200-plus channel line-up.

The appeal of these Internet services is simply too much to turn down: TV and movie libraries are literally at our touch-screen-fingertips. There's no waiting a week to see the next episode. There's anytime/anywhere streaming. Subscribing to your favorite television programming is customized and most often times cheaper, and there are NO commercials on many of these subscription services. And if you want to watch something that is not available in your subscription, just rent-a-stream through iTunes, GooglePlay, or CinemaNow. Just as cell phones have replaced the home landline and given us room to roam, Internet TV is replacing cable.

So how are television advertising opportunities evolving? The advent of Smart TVs has ushered in interactive television advertising, a.k.a. iTV. Delivered to the TV from a laptop, tablet, or mobile device through a broadband-enabled device like an Xbox, Chromecast, or Roku, this form of advertising is the advertiser's dream with regards to targeting and data mining.

According to Forbes, iTV "can provide marketers with targeting that is better attuned to individual households. Additionally, the interactivity inherent in digitally delivered ads can allow advertisers to view, in real time, whether ads are being viewed, clicked and accessed, as well as allowing them to change ads depending on the success".(6)

In an age where traditional commercials have been rapidly losing ground, it's the companies that embrace the new technologies that add interactive capabilities—games, coupons and informational videos—that will be the ones to gain significant momentum.


(1) CNN Money:
(2) Advertising Age:
(3) Broadcasting & Cable:
(4) Forbes
(5) Wired:
(6) Forbes:

Buy Now! Virtual Shopping Carts

See something on a billboard you want? “Add to cart.” Hear about a product on the radio or TV that you want for your spouse? Forget going to the website to purchase it. Just “add to cart” on your smart phone. Reading a magazine in the dentist’s office and like the smell of that cologne? Use your mobile wallet on the spot and "add to cart."

Powa Technologies (UK) touts itself as the company "providing innovative new sales channels that help customers save time and money." It uses QR-code-like images in printed materials and inaudible signals for TV and radio ads (all dubbed "PowaTags") that will instantly put the advertised product into a universal shopping cart app for purchase.

CEO Dan Wagner says of the technology, "We’re the veneer that fits between the consumer, the brand, and the retailer to make [buying] easier...The credit card firms like it. The banks and retailers like it. The brands like it. And the media owners love it."

Launched in March, 2014, Powa says it now has 1,200 brands and retailers signed up to the system with app downloads numbering in the low hundred thousands. Early December The Mall on Xbox One partnered with Powa exclusively to enhance its users' shopping experience. In mid-December, it formed a "10-year strategic alliance"deal with China UnionPay to avail this technology across mainland China.

Keep it or burn it: New company allows users to create multiple phone numbers

Need a phone number for a day, a week, a month, or longer? Create a number on your iPhone or Android in less than 30 seconds. Keep the number as long as you’d like or burn it when you’re done.

Historically, one landline used to be the main player and the main point of contact in business with questions ranging from operating hours to prices to directions filtering in through this one line. But times have changed and a key difference in today’s market is that there are multiple connection points, including your website and social media.

Enter Burner ( Burner is a privacy layer for the smartphone, giving users the power to take control of their personal data and business communications. The most interesting aspect of this new technology is not just that it's for privacy for personal Twitter or Facebook accounts or for selling on Craigslist, but it’s a useful business application as well.

Use Multiple Phone Numbers to Track Ads 

When Internet companies place ads in different channels (such as Facebook or Twitter), they use unique links to measure traffic. But what happens with non-digital ads? How can you measure where your traffic is coming from if you’re advertising on a billboard, in newspapers, or through partner businesses? This is where having multiple phone numbers is a simple and effective solution.

Now companies can manage these numbers directly through a mobile device. This provides a clear view of each channel’s effectiveness thereby allowing the business realtime response tracking. Obviously this has to fit within your marketing strategy, and if it does, it’s a great new technology to keep in mind.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Job's Vulcan Nerve Pinch from the Grave: Ad Blocking

“I’m Going to Destroy Android, Because It's a Stolen Product” 

--Steve Jobs

Job’s statement was the plot heard around the world and Apple’s declaration of war on Google. Once good friends, Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Google CEO Eric Schmidt (a former Apple board member) became avowed enemies, causing a collective jaw-drop in the tech industry.

A brief history
The love was lost when Google’s continuing acquisitions (acquisitions for which Apple itself bid and lost to Google) along with the 2010 launch of the Android instigated the ensuing intergalactic wars. Android technology integrated touch screen with its devices, a feature that Apple said it singularly owned. This resulted in many lawsuits filed by Apple against Google, among numerous other corporations, for patent infringements and stealing intellectual property. These actions, buoyed by opposing business philosophies (Google campaigns for open-products while Apple leans heavily toward proprietorship.), became a tailspin with ramifications that will reach into 2016 and beyond. The lawsuits were settled (Apple got money; Android kept its touch screen.), but the war wages on.1

What’s going on now?
One fall out of this war concerns an important factor of today’s e-commerce: Ad blocking. In fact, a recent report published by Adobe and PageFair stated that blockers would cost publishers nearly $22 billion in revenue in 2015.2  Here are some sobering findings:3
  • Usage of desktop ad blockers in the United States grew by 48% during the past year.
  • Desktop ad block usage in the United States resulted in an estimated $5.8B in blocked revenue during 2014; it is expected to cost $10.7B in 2015 and $20.3B in 2016.
  • In Q2 2015, mobile accounted for 38% of all web browsing, yet only 1.6% of ad block traffic on the PageFair network in Q2 2015 was from mobile devices. 
  • During Q2 2015, 40% of mobile ad blocking came from Firefox users who had installed an extension to block ads. That is about to change with ad blocking now available on iOS 9; mobile Safari represents 52% of the mobile browsing market (and 14% of total web browsing).
  • At 50%, misuse of personal information was the primary reason given for enabling ad blocking overall.
  • 57% of millennials cited an increase in the quantity of ads as their reason.
These stats should likely make advertisers rethink the ways they connect with their audience, which, in turn, could cost Internet readers access to a lot of free content as free is not really free...advertisers foot the bill.

While ad blocking has been around for awhile, Apple’s latest iOS 9 release has significantly upped the ante on ad blocking4, which could leave businesses eating stardust as users easily banish their banner ads, pop-ups, and autoplay videos once and for all. All those Google ads that companies purchased won’t be visible to Apple users who turn on this feature, and the feature is not selective at this time. This means that it blocks ALL ads, including quality ads of quality products that don’t implement tracking functions. This is bad news for Google’s business model (not to mention all those paying advertisers), which derives a large portion of its revenue from advertising sales. (Steve Job’s Vulcan nerve pinch from the grave.)

So, what’s an advertiser to do? Is the face of e-commerce changing...again?
You bet! But most experts in the industry think it’s a good opportunity to repair a system of intrusive, data-heavy ads that slow down the browsing experience and frustrate the consumer. Over time, experts believe that ad blockers will feature an option for a whitelist that will allow some ads through. One ad-technology company, Rubicon Project, said they were in the early stages of the development of this technology that they believe will offer the user a better experience while giving the advertiser more opportunities.2

Like most technological changes, the evolution of online advertising will be refined and, hopefully, elevated in terms of quality information and user experience. Accomplishing this feat will certainly add authenticity to a brand. But currently an advertiser must consider that Apple wins the web traffic market share in the United States at 52%,5 84.6% of which come from users of the iPhone 5 and older iPhone models6. That’s a lot of phones when you consider that models back to the iPhone 4s can upgrade to iOS 9.7 Ultimately, advertisers will need to aggressively develop new tactics in order to connect with this massive challenge.

  1. The DailyTech:
  2. New York Times:
  3. "Ad Blocking’s Impact and the Future of Digital Marketing," a Tap Influence webcast by Dr. Johnny Ryan of PageFair:
  4. Forbes:
  5. Venture Beat:
  6. Marketing Land:
  7. Apple:

Not so freaky thoughts from Stephen Dubner

Dan Schawbel (contributor to Forbes Magazine) recently spoke to Stephen Dubner, co-author of both Freakonomics and Super Freakonomics. Freakonomics is one of The New York Times bestsellers and has sold more than 4 million copies worldwide, in more than 35 languages. In his interview, Dubner talks about ways that entrepreneurs can make better business decisions, habits they need to break, and why pursuing your passion is so important. The following is a summation:
  1. Say “I don’t know” more often. Too many people in business – act like they know everything. Get rid of your ego and open yourself up to learning something new. 
  2. “Once you know what you don’t know, you can start gathering feedback.” Run experiments to discover and investigate what you don’t know. These don’t have to be complicated or expensive. Real randomized experimentation is one of the most basic, useful tools in solving problems. 
  3. Spend time thinking. Really thinking. You may believe you already spend a lot of time thinking, but, in fact, many of our ideas are just rehashed thoughts given to us. 
  4. Question conventional wisdom and figure out what your own biases are. “Even the smartest people among us have strong biases—in fact, the very smartest people are likely to be even more biased. That’s not a crime, but when you’re trying to solve a problem, you need to figure out where your biases lie and how to work around them.” 
  5. Don’t be afraid to quit. “Don’t fall for the 'sunk-cost' fallacy: once you’ve put a lot of time, money, energy, etc., into a project, it may seem counterproductive to stop. But that’s not necessarily the case. Instead, consider the opportunity cost: every hour, dollar, or brain cell that you’re putting into Project A is one less that you could be putting into Project B...Failing fast and failing well is greatly undervalued.” 
  6. Find something you love more than anything—and especially a pursuit that other people aren’t doing—you will run circles around the competition. Why? Because if you truly love what you’re doing, you’ll be thinking about it when you go to sleep, you’ll wake up with a head full of ideas, and you’ll be eager to experiment and fail and start over again until you solve the riddle. 

5 Ways to Set Your Brand on Fire

Nothing successful in business happens without a plan, especially when it concerns branding. A branding plan is essential to the lifecycle of your business. Here are five reasons why:
  1. Information & Analysis: You gain valuable insight when researching market positions and trends. You find out where you stand in the marketplace, where you stand with your customers, where your competitors stand, what’s the climate like for your product, and what are the market projections. It’s vital to know where you are before you can map out where you’re going.
  2. Differentiation: In gathering the research, certain qualities about your product will begin to rise to the top. You’ll discover differences between your brand and your competitors’. This will form the essence and launching pad for your message. If you’re not different, then you are white noise, and no one will be able to distinguish you from your competitors. Differentiation is key to a brand’s viability.
  3. Leadership alignment: With a brand plan, you will form common objectives for growth and direction, meaning everyone in the company will be using the same map. Everyone, regardless of his or her role, will be on the same page with the same goals in mind.
  4. Appeal, Action, Achieve: A brand plan should include implementation strategies with the end results meeting your objectives. Implementation defines how to appeal to your target, how to speak your target’s language and where they will hear you, thereby giving your brand the tools to achieve its objectives.
  5. Evaluate & Adjust: Brands live and breathe. The plan should as well. It should include measurable benchmarks and tests to see if you are reaching your business objectives. See where the needed growth areas are and make adjustments to strengthen those areas.

8 Entrepreneurial Tips for Kids (& Adults)

  1. Never quit.
    Entrepreneurs face the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. One thing we learn fast is to never quit when things get tough. This is the time where growth happens—when we step and live outside of our comfort zones. These lessons teach us about leadership, entrepreneurship, and how to bring these skills and services to the real world. Entrepreneurs know how to hustle. Figuring out how to achieve your goals despite setbacks, doing something that might not be the traditional way, and persevering is what hustle is all about. 
  2. Cash is king.
    Cash is king. Cash is freedom. Having a war chest (instead of debt) allows for good and bad moves. This will give you freedom to navigate without restraint. 
  3. Exercise integrity.
    We all want to work with people who are honest and fair. Hard work is important. However, if you are dishonest, you might get that first sale, but the customer will not return. Maintain your moral code, especially when money is involved, and you will create a customer for life. Honesty is ALWAYS the best policy. 
  4. Negotiation skills can help you save money.
    Learn to negotiate. Understanding when and how to push will help save a startup lots of money. 
  5. You can't be all things to all people.
    In our quest to acquire a new customer or expand operations, it is easy to overlook our current customers and forget how we became successful in the first place. Stay focused on what you do best.
  6. You can do a lot more than you think you can.
    You really can do almost anything if you put your mind and passion to it. Don’t settle for the status quo or be content with what already exists. Society only improves if entrepreneurs explore new paths and new ways of doing things. Being an innovator is about fighting complacency and never being satisfied with the “good enough” answers of today.
  7. It’s important to make personal connections.
    Everyone you meet can bring something interesting to the table either at the moment or down the road, so making and maintaining a network of connections is very important. 
  8. Pursue a work-life balance.
    Demonstrate a healthy work-life balanced attitude toward business. Be a present role model to inspire, rally, and build-up those around you.

Jet Fuel for Air Travelers

Did you know you can speed through airport security?  If you qualify for the TSA PreCheck program (and pay the enrollment fees), you will be assigned a known traveler number and be allowed to speed through expedited-screening lines without unpacking your laptop or removing your shoes, belt or jacket. Nice to know!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Letter from the Editor...Special Edition

Hornsby's "Fracture 1" will be featured in the "Black and White Show", Brooklyn, NY, 
during the month of August, 2015.

Dear Friends,

I am happy to announce that our president, Chris Hornsby, has been selected as one of 100 artists out of 1,358 entries to showcase his latest work in New York City! The first of his latest series "Fracture" will be showing at the second annual “Black and White Show” in Brooklyn, N.Y., sponsored by the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition Gallery. The show runs from Aug. 1-23, 2015.

The series is a haunting exploration into the fractured human nature and the fight within. “Fracture 1,” the piece selected for the "Black and White Show," is the combination of stark black, white, and gray “shard” imagery that includes a total of 37 individual paintings that make up one large-scale 7’ 5” x 7’ 5” painting. The impression is an overwhelming feeling of a powerful struggle between two opposing forces.

The “Black and White Show” is a juried fine art exhibition comprised solely of black and white artworks created by artists working in all traditional and non-traditional 2-D and 3-D media, including film and video. New York’s art elite, Christiane Paul, the curator of Media Arts at the revered Whitney Museum of American Art, juried the show.

Of this event, Chris said, "Art is a personal passion of mine of which I’m grateful to express both in my branding design business as well as in my fine art pieces. To be able to show and share my personal artwork is always quite an honor, and to show in New York, one of the leading art capitals of the world, well, that's something special."

Please visit Chris' new art gallery website at and join me in congratulating him on this new adventure.

If you'd like more information about purchasing or exhibiting his work, please contact us.

Best regards,

Bridget Hornsby

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

What can a red nose do?

According to Laura Ries, President of Ries & Ries based in Atlanta, GA, you can build a brand with a red nose.

“A red nose is the visual hammer for Red Nose Day, a campaign started in the U.K. and has now moved to America. The Red Nose Day fund is a program of Comic Relief, a non-profit that raises money for children living in poverty. Hundreds of charities do similar work, but most don’t become as well-known or raise as much money. The difference? A visual hammer that drives the brand into the mind. It might be a simple or silly thing like a pink ribbon, a yellow bracelet or a red nose. Three visuals that have built powerful, relatively-new non-profit giants.”

Ms. Ries makes 3 points that will help any non profit achieve celebrity status.
  1. Be focused: The best way to affect change is to focus on one issue or one disease or one disability. When you have a broad mission like the United Way, it is difficult to communicate what you do and it is hard to find one visual or slogan that can cover all that you do.
  2. Be specific: Most vision statements of charities are too broad. “To create a just world, free from poverty,” for example. What does that mean? How can you visualize that? You can’t. That is why the more-specific campaign for Comic Relief is so successful.
  3. Be first: Me-too campaigns don’t work. Instead of copying what has already been done (pink ribbons, yellow Livestrong bracelets, the ice-bucket challenge) and trying to do it better, find something you can be first in. Don’t use the same visual in a different color, create a new visual.

What If Your Brand Had ONLY 5 Years to Live?

How would you plan for your brand’s future if it was based on a limited run? Goals and objectives accomplished. Check. We call it “The limited brand” strategy. It’s a brand that focuses excitement and buyer loyalty on short-term goals.

We except change and “the new” everyday, but with brands...we crave it. The next updated software, phone, or the latest fashion trend, the newest music, or popular movie. Yet from a brand building and business perspective, we think brands should stay around forever. Maybe that’s why some brands lose their chutzpah? They need continued energy and creative input, and one way to build that is to attach a closing date. It’s the ultimate limited edition, so to speak. Consider asking yourself the following:

How would I focus my brand if I knew it only had five years to “live”? Would I...
  • follow my performance more closely? 
  • make faster business decisions? 
  • focus more on producing the “got to have it factor”? 
  • see my brand more like fashion or as a trend? 
  • find creative ways to inspire and excite? 
  • add more value without adding cost? 
  • look for a more short-term commitment from my customers? 
Maybe you can get where you want to be by starting with the end in mind. Something to think about.

4 Steps to Successful Brand Planning

We believe consistent branding, advertising, and marketing are the keys to enjoying short and long-term, sustainable public awareness and participation. Below are our 4 steps to get you there:
  1. Create, gather, and analyze research for strategic meaning. 
  2. Select the factors that will most likely influence your marketing. 
  3. Make a distinction between goals, strategy, and tactics. Goals are desired results systematically achieved through the implementation of the strategy and tactics. Strategy is a big picture view of the entire forest, not the individual trees, of how a goal should be achieved. Tactics are actions you take to execute the strategy. 
  4. Implement these distinctions and heighten your ability to succeed. 

Dull Is the New Delicious

When it comes to branding standardization, "dull" can be the spice of life.

Brand standardization builds trust and in order to build trust with your customer base, it’s important to convey stability with conviction. Your brand should secure consumer confidence, this doesn't mean the brand's message can't be fresh and spicy! 

Four ingredients of a confident brand:
  1. Consistent Messaging: With the ever-growing media landscape spanning the traditional and digital methodologies, consistency is more important than ever. A persuasive, simple message disseminated across all touch points keeps cohesion and recognition, eliminating confusion.
  2. Visual Integrity: Visual integrity doesn’t mean everything has to look identical. What visual integrity in branding means is that your message—however your brand makes your consumer feel, whatever it is that builds trust—should be kept front and center of every campaign. The words may change, the images and color may change, but the essence of the brand remains intact.
  3. Professionalism: If a brand changes with the wind, it creates a sense that it is unsure, unsteady, unreliable, and therefore unprofessional. A standardized brand creates an anchor for the company that speaks to its attention to detail and adherence to business absolutes customers can rely on, thereby magnifying a sense of professionalism.
  4. Brand equity: Brand equity is the power of the brand gained from the goodwill and name recognition that it has earned over time through consistency, integrity, and professionalism. They are memorable and can demand a higher price, but only because the brand is standardized.

Simple Steps to Better Brainstorming

A group brainstorming process is a powerful and calculated way to create new ideas, solve problems, motivate, and develop teams.

For “out-of-the-box” thinking, structure and follow these guidelines.
  1. First, define and agree upon the objective (keep it simple).
  2. Agree on time limitations and then stick to it. 
  3. Begin with a series of thought provoking questions and/or suggestions.
  4. Categorize, condense, combine, and refine the answers and thoughts. 
  5. Analyze the possible effects and results.
  6. Prioritize a list of options and rank them appropriately. 
  7. Agree upon action to be taken and time-frame. 
  8. Control and monitor follow-up. 
The facilitator must encourage everyone to participate, dismiss nothing, and prevent others from dismissive actions as well.

During the random collection of ideas the facilitator must record every suggestion on a flip-chart or sticky notes to hang. At the end of the time limit or when ideas have been exhausted, use different colored pens to categorize, group, and then connect the random ideas. Refine the ideas by making new headings or lists. You can diplomatically combine or include the weaker ideas within other themes to avoid dismissing or rejecting contributions.  

Remember brainstorming is about team building and motivation, too. You don’t want it to have the reverse effect on some people.

With the group, evaluate and analyze the effects and validity of each idea on the list. Then develop and prioritize the ideas into a more finished list. Agree on what the next actions will be, a timeframe, and who’s responsible.

After the session, be sure to monitor and give feedback. It’s crucial to develop a clear and positive outcome, so that people feel their effort and contribution was worthwhile. When people see that their efforts have resulted in action and change, they will be motivated to help again.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Hornsby Brand Design Wins Three Creative Awards

We are proud to announce that our company was awarded three regional Addy awards presented by the Knoxville Chapter of the American Advertising Federation at The Hilton in Knoxville on Sat. night, Feb. 28, 2015. More than 250 people were in attendance with more than 300 entries competing.

We always strive to offer the very best service and innovative solutions to our clients. The awards are an added bonus to that end. We greatly appreciate the recognition by our peers for our creative efforts!

[The Addy Awards ceremony is the premier event held annually by the Knoxville Chapter of the American Advertising Federation (a business organization comprised of leading advertising and marketing professionals), recognizing excellence in creativity in all media.]

Monday, February 16, 2015

What's A SweetSpot and How Can I Hit It?

In sports, the sweet spot is that one special place on the bat, the golf club, or the tennis racket that pounds the home run or drives the ball farther, faster, and with less effort than when it’s hit any place else. Consumers have sweet spots, too, and when your marketing or advertising idea hits it, your idea is communicated and your sales will go flying. Through Hornsby Brand Design’s Sweet Spot process of focusing (Brand Insight + Consumer Insight = the “SweetSpot”), we find the information necessary to create high-achieving ideas that cut through the mediocrity.

4 Steps to Building a Successful Brand

Branding is a strategic process that involves commitment. It's more than writing new ads or developing a new logo. Your brand is THE expression of your company’s image and beliefs. For it to be successful, and fly high, you'll need to believe in your promise and support it both internally and externally. You need to look at it deeply, closely, and critically to find its best expression. With teamwork, perseverance, honesty, and leadership, your brand can reach its true potential.

1) Everyone on the team needs to be seriously committed to a branding exploration.
Key decision-makers should be involved from the beginning to the end. Branding takes an honest look at who you are, what you are good at AND what you aren’t. The team should be willing to embrace the good, the bad, and the ugly and have the vision to think differently about how they present themselves

2) Your brand promise should be meaningful AND deliverable.
Brand positioning (why you are better or different) is all about finding new opportunities for your product or service. Whether it is a distinct point of difference -- “cleans better than the #1 brand” or an emotional benefit “We bring good things to life” -- every brand has some unique benefit to its customers. That’s why surveying your customers will help you discover new insights into your brand. If you discover a benefit that your customers say you are good at, then it’s worth the effort to deliver on that promise. Your customers are excellent judges of what makes you special. Don’t ignore it

3) Stay the course.
Branding efforts follow a process...first conducting discovery with the internal key players, then auditing the competition, and then surveying the customer. Along the way valuable learning is accumulated that will ultimately help in the development of the brand platform. A consistent, dedicated client team is extremely important in the process of building a competent and competitive brand.

4) Leadership is THE key to any successful branding effort.
The client must rally the team behind a common mission, keep the herd together and designate the ultimate decision-makers. In the end with this kind of effort and a great branding design partner (We have a suggestion on this one!) your brand’s success will be well-heeled for not only talking the talk, but walking the walk.

What are Your Customers Really Thinking?

“People don’t buy 4-inch drill bits; they buy 4-inch holes.” --Author unknown

Because people don’t buy products, they buy what they can do with them, we have a suggestion. In your next meeting or on your next advertising project (or for one in progress) ask yourself and team members these three questions:

1) Are we defining our customers the way they think about themselves?
2) Are we looking at life from their point of view?
3) Are we thinking about ways to bring our products and services to them rather than expecting them to come to us?

Your product or service is simply a tool for the customer to get what he/she really wants and needs. Define the customer’s real wants and needs, and tailor your marketing and advertising around it. This is the first step toward developing that all important consumer insight.

Sweet Tip of the Month

"The mathematics of collaboration is nothing less than magic."

Challenge: It’s hard to read the label when you’re inside the bottle. Don’t assume the business owner knows best. The business owner is uniquely qualified to view his company or product subjectively, which can lead him to answer questions no one is asking. He’s on the inside looking out, trying to describe himself to a person on the outside looking in.

Solution: Hire someone from the outside who understands and speaks the language of your customers.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

4 Tips to Communicating More Effectively

Tip 1: Establish your credentials
When presenting the services your company offers, don’t forget to cover the basics in describing your firm: 1) the six Ps--philosophy, process, people, products, performance, and price; 2) organization; 3) service structure; 4) business strategy; and 5) compensation plan. This usually applies when prospects meet you for the first time, but sometimes even existing clients need to be reminded of your credentials and other key facts about your firm.

Tip 2: Deliver Confidence
The physical appearance of your presentation and marketing literature conveys expertise, talent, and quality. A coherent system of communication saves time (and, by extension, money). A coherent system allows you to be prepared at every point in the sales cycle, from introduction to first meeting to client communications. Perhaps most importantly, a coherent package of information sends this critical message: “We have our act together.”

Tip 3: Know Your Competition
Clients need a reason to hire you. Any successful marketing communications program must answer the following questions, “How are you different from your competitors? What can you offer clients that they cannot find elsewhere?” Hone in and hit home the answers to these questions when presenting, selling, and strategizing. Make a clear case for the difference you possess to your client.

Tip 4: Respect The Rules Of Storytelling
Covering the basics does not mean pouring yourself straight into the philosophy-process-people mold. Keep in mind that your competitors will be presenting similar information. Capture the imagination of your audience by emulating the elements of any well-told story: a strong opening, passion, universal truth, satisfaction as the plot unfolds, and a memorable close.