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The Year of Content. Who Got the Memo?

According to people in the know, 2014 was “The Year of Content Marketing.” It seems that lots of people missed that memo. In fact, issues we regularly face with clients indicate that few people outside the marketing world even know what content marketing is. And, content strategy? They've never heard of it. So, let's take a look at some common client questions.

What is content, anyway?

Isn’t content just a few words on a few pages? Actually, "we'll be providing our own content" may be the undoing of the thought and hard work you put into your shiny new website or your latest marketing brochure.

Prateek Sarkar, creative director for the Walt Disney Company, has said, “Content is story. And content strategy is storytelling.” So, listen up. After all, who knows how to tell a story better than Disney?  

What’s wrong with our old content?

Perhaps nothing. For example, evergreen content, such as great white papers, is content that stays relevant and can establish you as a thought leader in your field. However, the world changes fast. So does language and the way we use it. And, people don’t buy the same way they did five years ago. With millions of websites competing with yours, you need fresh content to capture and inspire your audience and a strong strategy to sustain audience interest. 

Where do I start?

To tell your story in a way that resonates with readers and pays off at the bank, you have to ask the right questions and set the right priorities.

Margot Bloomstein, in her book Content Strategy at Work, writes, “Prioritization means holding your work and efforts accountable to a bigger plan, a sort of raison d’etre: why this and why now?”

  • Why are we doing this website/video/social media plan?
  • Who are we trying to reach? (HINT: “Everybody” is not the correct answer.)
  • What are we trying to communicate? What is the heart of our story?
  • What do we want our intended audience to do?

How do I create good content? 

Paul Grice, a linguist known for studying how people communicate, developed four maxims for conversation—a good place to start when you evaluate current or new content. 

The short version: Give readers content that is appropriate in quality, quantity, relevance and clarity.

Know your audience’s needs and tell them what they need to know, not what you want them to know.  Speak to them in language and tone they understand. 

Although Paul Grice didn’t ask me—from an editor’s point of view—I would add consistency to the list. From staying on brand to correctly employing all those pesky commas and apostrophes, errors and inconsistencies can confuse readers and redirect their focus in a negative way.

Why isn’t our SEO better? Or "Shhh! Don’t tell anybody."

Your Search Engine Optimization depends on good content, thoughtfully written, organized for ease of use, with appropriate links. Cram a lot of keywords into every paragraph, and Google will punish you. “Borrow” from other websites, and, yes, Google will punish you.

One of the most common, and most counterproductive, mistakes we see is burying information deep within the site. Again, Google will punish you. Some clients are strangely shy, even secretive, about what they do. “We sell widgets, but we don’t want those words on the main page. Let’s get people deeper in the site before we start selling them.”

The bad news is twofold: 

1. They won't get deeper into the site if you don't give them a reason to go there. 

2. It doesn’t matter if you sell the most righteous widgets on the planet, nobody will buy yours if you don't talk about them. 

Give them information up front. If your FAQs page is one of your most frequently visited areas, chances are good that you aren’t giving readers adequate information when they first visit your website. 

Above all, make it easy for potential customers to know what you do and why they should give you their business and their money. To do that, you need a marriage of great design, great content and the right medium for the right audience.


Comments (0)|Posted by: Joseph Nother, 27 January 2015 at 4:45pm

Why We Paid Attention to the Consumer Electronics Show and You Should, Too

Every year, thousands of tech innovators, journalists and futurists come together in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show—better known as CES—to predict which technologies may forever change our future. The current tribe of CES attendees, presenters and all-around devotees goes beyond geek culture to now include advertisers and agencies. With each trying to find ways to connect to what’s cutting edge, we decided to share a few tech trends that we believe may be significant for you and your brand.

Narrowcasting Through the Internet of Things

A major focus this year was the "Internet of Things," which basically includes everything physically connected in some way to the internet, such as Nest’s thermostat, Fitbit’s wearables and even some savvy refrigerators and washing machines. These connections, in places and spaces from our wrists to our walls, add a wealth of personalized data and insights that, with the right brand, could be woven into stories and messaging within these platforms in ways never before imagined.

Everyone should be familiar with the term broadcasting, where distribution of the same message via mass media can reach tens of thousands of people at once. With the rise of the Internet of Things and personalized platforms, brands can now narrowcast and effectively reach an audience of one. 

That audience of one, however, is exactly who you want to reach. And, that same audience has a networked opportunity to turn around and share messages with individual friends or, depending on his or her online connections, thousands. By narrowcasting, your message will reach the right audience, be more customizable, and get organic earned media and shares.

Zoning In On Technology

While the Internet of Things is driving anytime/everywhere engagement—whether it's on the mega TVs unveiled at CES down to your laptop, mobile device or wearable—those connections may not (and should not) always share the same message from brands.

According to a recent Digiday article, advertisers and the messages they develop should tie into themes: Mobile is our lover, laptops are our worker, and TV is our casual friend. The article, "The Evolutionary Psychology of Digital Clutter," states that "Edward T. Hall and psychologist Robert Sommer discovered three distance fields in which humans take in communications: an intimate space of up to 18 inches away, a personal space of 18 inches to 4 feet, and a social space of 4 to 12 feet. Their thought was these three distance fields are ingrained from our ancestors: Intimate space is a lover’s whisper, personal space is a working distance, and social space is stories from a campfire. These ancient, embedded ways to give and receive information fit perfectly with today’s mobile phones (intimate), laptops and tablets (personal/working), and television/movies (social space).

"The challenge for gadget designers and data miners is that what works in one human distance field doesn’t necessarily in another. We’ll give up more information about ourselves on mobile in our intimate space (here’s my location and birthday, Facebook!) but don’t want ad intrusions there (screw you, mobile ads!). We’ll take in more unsolicited information from a social 10-foot distance (here’s an ad from TV!) but don’t give distant devices our personal information."

Tying Trends To Tech

JWT, a globally recognized ad agency, recently published a retrospective of ten years of trend reporting, sharing insight into how brands, technology and trends combine to shape messages and meaning for advertisers and our culture. Here are highlights from the report:

1. Everything is Retail

2. Food as the New Eco-Issue

3. Mobile Device as Everything Hub

4. Going Private in Public

5. Buying the Experience

6. De-Teching

7. Predictive Personalization

8. Queen Trumps King

9. Retooling for an Aging World

10. Cooperative Consumption

As you can see, advertising and technology go hand in hand. Your impact depends on where and how your audience is receiving your message. We're keeping an eye on the tech trends that influence our industry. We think you should, too.


Comments (0)|Posted by: Joseph Nother, 27 January 2015 at 1:49pm

Designsensory Cofounders Reflect on the Changing Industry


Congratulations to Designsensory’s founders Joseph Nother and Brandon Rochelle for being recognized in the eighth annual edition of the Greater Knoxville Business Journal’s 40 under Forty: The region's Rising Stars!

When Designsensory was formed in 2001, Joseph's design aesthetic coupled with Brandon's technical expertise created a combination that helped differentiate it within the industry. At the intersection of culture, design and technology, it was always important to be craft-oriented: To produce quality material that is beautiful, inspirational and creative.

"I still obsess over beauty and meaning," says Joseph. "Beautiful packaging design can telegraph a sense of respect and care not only for the user but for the planet. Thoughtful advertising can remind people of their own humanity. A funny Facebook post can make people laugh. These designed experiences, however small, have the ability to inform, persuade and influence. That has always excited me and always will."

The branding and marketing industry is constantly evolving but, with the leadership of Joseph and Brandon, Designsensory has adapted to changing technology and media through the years while maintaining its focus on what really matters: creating moments that delight and inspire.

“Since our founding, brands are now perceived and experienced across a much more diverse set of touchpoints,” Brandon observes. “Navigating the complexities of how each of those technologies is unique while also staying consistent with brand messaging is difficult.”

Current consumers can easily become overwhelmed. Determining what information to provide and in what manner is just as important as the information itself. Adapting your message to a variety of channels (social media, press releases, blog posts, websites, mobile apps, videos, etc.) is paramount, as using the same content can make a brand seem unapproachable or out of touch. Our team is presented the opportunity and the challenge of balancing cohesion while also respecting the uniqueness of each platform.

Along with shifts in technology come changes in how we talk about process and progress. We hear more about mobile, social, programmatic and inbound. Now, Web 2.0 has been replaced with the Internet of Things. Fixed to fluid to adaptive to responsive. The design process became Design Thinking, which is really just Human Centered Design, which then became just one more method of sparking innovation.

“Progression is exciting, and adapting to new tools is very important, but the underlying needs of people remain the same," Joseph comments. "For as much as methods have become more data-driven, targeted, tech-enabled and sophisticated, people still pine for moments that matter. They want to feel connected. They expect value and respect for their time, money, family and community. They want to be delighted and they are looking for a little joy. This has not changed.”

While Designsensory has adapted to a changing media and technology landscape, it has remained focused on connecting with people—not targets, segments or cohorts. And so, Designsensory helps brands tell stories and sell dreams and aspirations, not simply products or services.

Amid all the change, the brands that take the time to understand who they are, what they want to be, and how they make good on their promises in all those small moments, are the ones with staying power.

Today, Designsensory has more than 35 employees in Knoxville and Nashville. For the second year in a row, the company has been named one of the fastest growing companies in Tennessee by Inc. 5000. Read more about Designsensory in the latest edition of Cityview Magazine.


Comments (0)|Posted by: Joseph Nother, 27 January 2015 at 1:33pm

Utilize: Maintaining Search Equity During a Website Redesign


Think you're ready to redesign your website? Check out these tips first to enjoy a smooth, rewarding launch experience.

Launch day is finally here. You've spent months in development; researching audiences, fine-tuning designs and preparing content. Your new and improved website promises to wow users and catapult your online presence to new levels. However, if you've failed to consider and prepare for one often overlooked detail, you may find yourself in an SEO slump that leaves stakeholders and team members asking, “What went wrong?” 

Avoid this decrease in rankings and organic search traffic with a few precautionary steps and enjoy a smooth, rewarding launch experience.


1. Inventory your site

Indexing your site and cataloging content and links will help ensure everything is migrated or 301 redirected to the new domain and site architecture. When doing a redesign, URLs can change. If you don’t inform search engines of this change you risk a significant drop in rankings and traffic. Doing a thorough inventory of your site will reveal your current URLs and allow you to create an effective 301 redirection plan.


2. Conduct an SEO audit

An SEO audit will help you identify strengths, weaknesses, risks and opportunities within your current site. This knowledge will equip you to make effective choices for what should be migrated and what should be left behind. The more thorough the audit, the more effective the road map for the new website.


3. Analyze your site report

Review and analyze your current site reporting before migrating your site. Pay close attention to popular content, pages and referring site reports. Knowing which pages are most visited will give you a better idea of which pages need to be prominent on the new site and easily accessed by your users. Keep in mind that the top visited pages may be saved as bookmarks by your users and must have 301 redirects upon launch to avoid lost traffic and frustrated users.


4. Perform an inbound link analysis & SEO maintenance

Inbound links are a strong asset in SEO and page ranking. When you change your URL structure, you risk losing these powerful SEO tools. Familiarize yourself with these inbound links and make sure they are carried over properly during the migration.


5. Deploy a 301 redirection plan

One of the most important steps in a website redesign is to ascertain that all URLs from the old site accurately redirect to their new counterparts. Doing so will pass PageRank from your older pages to your new ones and allow you to maintain search equity. The SEO information gained in the steps above must be considered and dealt with appropriately in this 301 redirection plan. If you do only one thing during a redesign or migration, it needs to be creating an accurate 301 direction plan.


Comments (0)|Posted by: Joseph Nother, 27 January 2015 at 12:12pm

A Merry Time for Our DSers

When we're not busy branding and designing, writing and reaching out with PR, coding, shooting a TV series and setting the world on fire, what do we do? At the special season of Christmas, no matter how busy life as we know it is, we celebrate each other. We spend most of our waking moments with our coworkers, and we like to celebrate these other "significant others" with an event that embraces the whole Designsensory family.

Public Relations and Media Specialist Casey Self spearheaded the get-together, organizing a Secret Santa gift exchange and potluck signups. We saw the list fill up with such goodies as Melanie's lasagna (a remarkable, delicious homage to her late grandmother's recipe), roasted brussels sprouts a la AlisonBrandon's creme brulee and Michael's home brews. Underneath the tree filled up with gifts big and small, wrapped with such designer detail a gogo, we wondered if Santa himself hadn't stopped by.

Four-thirty came soon enough on the big day. From ovens upstairs and down, tantalizing goodness wafted throughout the orange-red DS studio. DSers tore themselves away from laptops and desktops and joined the procession, ferrying piping hot dishes, picture-perfect salads and cheese plates, chilly libations and sweets galore to tempt every palate. Grateful grazing gave way to another quick downstairs-up sashay of Secret Santa gifts, from under the tree to giggling gifters and getters, led by Joseph and his band of merry elves. After a chorus of "Who gave me this?" all secrets were revealed to lucky, happy recipients. 

It's a good thing to take time to celebrate each other, and to create new warm glow moments. Take a peek at the party.


Comments (0)|Posted by: Joseph Nother, 22 December 2014 at 10:57am

Different Traditions, Same Joyful Moments


The holidays are a special time of year. They bring us together, remind of us of what we value most and inspire a warmth and cheer unlike any other time of the year.


While the folks at Designsensory are busy putting the finishing touches on our holiday plans, we thought we would ask our friends and family in other parts of the world how they celebrate the yuletide season. It's a great reminder that while we may have different traditions and celebrations, the moments that we create for ourselves, and the feelings that those moments invoke unite us all.


Prettige Kerstfeest, from René in The Netherlands

“Children in The Netherlands get most excited for the night of December 5th. This is the night Sinterklaas brings presents to all the children who have been good that year and leaves them in their shoes. Sinterklaas parties are held where friends and family play treasure hunt games with poems and riddles giving clues. Children follow the clues to find small presents left by Sinterklaas. 


On December 6th, Sinterklaas travels to a different town in The Netherlands each year, wearing his red bishop’s robes. When his boat comes ashore, church bells ring and Sinterklaas leads a procession through town, riding a white horse.”


Joyeux Noël, from Clément in France

“The very best part of Christmas for me is réveillion, the Christmas feast. On Christmas Eve, after my family goes to the midnight service, we come home for réveillion and eat foie gras, escargots, turkey with chestnuts and my grandmother’s bûche de Noël.”


Frohe Weihnachten, from Jonas in Germany

“Advent has always been a big part of my family’s Christmas celebration. There are several types of calendars used to celebrate Advent, but my family uses a wreath made of fir tree branches with 24 bags hanging from it. Each day, we open one of the bags, which are filled with sweets or small gifts. 


Leading up to Christmas, many villages have large markets where you can buy food, decorations and gifts. One of the biggest markets is here in Nürnberg.”


Crặciun Fericit, from Andrei in Romania

“Our Christmas celebration begins on the 24th of December with the decorating of the tree. That night Moş Crăciun delivers presents to all the houses.


One of the most important traditions in Romania is carol singing. On Christmas Eve night, children walk from house to house throughout the village, singing carols and performing for the adults of the house. As a reward, they get sweets, fruit, traditional cakes and sometimes even money. On Christmas Day, adults go carol singing day and night.”


Wesołych Świąt, from Edyta in Poland

“Throughout Advent, we try to not have an excess of anything. We give up our favorite foods and drinks. We spend a lot of time cleaning our houses and preparing for Christmas Day. 


On Wigilia [the traditional Polish Christmas Eve vigil supper], observed on December 24th, friends and family come together for the main meal. Our tradition establishes that no food is eaten until the first star is seen so children look at the sky to spot the first star. There are 12 dishes to give you good luck for the next 12 months. We always leave one empty place at the table for any unexpected guest.


Only after everyone has finished the meal can the children open gifts. After opening gifts, we go to midnight Mass.”


Buon Natale, from Guido in Italy

“In Italy, our most important Christmas tradition is the nativity. Like most people in Italy, we put our family presepe [a nativity scene or creche] up on December 8th. Naples is the city most famous for making nativity cribs, and there is still a street of nativity makers—the Via San Gregorio Armeno—where you can buy crib decorations and figures. 


On Christmas Eve, after midnight Mass, we come home and have panettone, an Italian Christmas cake.” 


Closer to home, some Designsensory clients are celebrating the holidays with their own traditions.


Sugarlands Distillery

“At Sugarlands Distilling Company, we celebrate the holidays with friends and family. We enjoy beautifully unique cocktails, while using our award-winning Sugarlands Shine.”


Antique Piano Shop

“Holidays are always a busy time of year for the Antique Piano Shop, and this year is no exception. We absolutely love this time of year and the joy our pianos can bring to people. There's nothing better than seeing a family gathered around the piano at a holiday party, or hearing the piano play in the background while you enjoy time with those most dear to you. From all of us here at the Antique Piano Shop, we wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”


Patricia Nash Designs

"We love the holidays at Patricia Nash Designs more than any other time of year. The holiday shopping season is always chaotic but the spirit of giving and spending time with loved ones is what we take a moment to embrace. We start to see the customers buying handbags for their loved ones instead of themselves, and you can feel the difference that makes in their day. They're putting a lot of thought into giving something special to someone special and that means as much to us as it does to them.


We kick off the holidays and the giving spirit in a big way here—everything from store decorations, to events and online giveaways for our customers that are in the farthest reaches of the country. No corner of the store is left undecorated, and Patricia has made sure to run off any hint of Grinchyness from our offices. Having a holiday spirit isn't an option around here. You couldn't prevent it, even if you tried. Our family is the most important thing to us. So, from ours to yours, have a marvelous and safe holiday. May you travel, celebrate and live well in 2015."


No matter where you are celebrating this year, we hope the holidays bring you close to home and in the company of friends and family. From everyone at Designsensory, we wish you a very happy holiday!


Comments (0)|Posted by: Joseph Nother, 19 December 2014 at 2:52pm

Celebrating a Year of DS Moments


For everyone connected to Designsensory—from clients, to DSers to families and friends—the past 12 months have been filled with moments that inspire, honor, delight, deliver and much, much more. Before we pivot toward the new year, we want to share some of those moments and what they mean to us.


Here’s a look back at 2014, first sharing some amazing business moments below. Then, we’d love for you to follow the link at the bottom of this article to see more candid moments from the DS team in our Facebook album.


2014 Designsensory business moments that:



Designsensory won 6 gold, 19 silver and 2 bronze ADDYs (American Advertising Awards).



Rich media production company PopFizz hit the ground running . . . literally, by filming endurance races and racing across the state, capturing footage and producing amazing commercials, shows and stills, among other efforts.



Designsensory’s integrated campaign for the Medal of Honor Society’s 2014 Convention brought together Knoxville patrons and patriots in celebration of acts of valor from a select few for the many.



PetSafe’s 2014 national advertising campaign, spearheaded by Designsensory’s creative and strategy teams, connected more people with PetSafe’s products and promoted the brand’s message to Protect. Teach. Love.



We’re proud to have supported a number of area nonprofits, philanthropies and organizations through our creative and commitment, including Goodwill Industries of Greater Knoxville, YWCA Knoxville, A Secret Safe Place For Newborns of Tennessee, Rachel’s Lament, One Vision and others. We live, work and play here too, so it's important to us to be good community partners.



Designsensory partnered with the Boy Scouts of America to launch STEM Scouts, a new science-based, coed learning program in Knoxville, TN, and, hopefully, soon across the country.



Our work last year with the University of Tennessee Medical Center on both its intranet and public-facing websites fostered connections for the health system’s doctors and staff, patients and their families.



We’re always proud to celebrate this great state, and its new travel website—as well as producing and developing the state’s most impactful seasonal advertising campaign to date, with original photography and videos spotlighting regions. The experience was an amazing chance to showcase the Volunteer State and welcome everyone to Tennessee.



The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s one-of-a-kind partnership with Designsensory to produce a thirty-minute TV program, Tennessee Uncharted, was the start of bringing together entertainment and advertising in a truly unique way.



Earned media and public relations have been an important piece of Designsensory’s integrated campaigns for years. In 2014, we made it officially part of our in-house capabilities with the addition of Melanie Beauchamp, public relations and media manager, and Casey Self, public relations and media specialist.



Among other initiatives, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development motivates businesses, musicians, entertainers and filmmakers to live, work and perform in Tennessee. Our integrated campaign efforts to help achieve these goals included original photography, video and development of websites and print pieces.


Now that we've caught you up on some of the more professional moments, here's a look at a few personal moments from team DS.


Comments (0)|Posted by: Joseph Nother, 19 December 2014 at 2:10pm

Utilize: Tourism Trends

When the weather outside is frightful, it's a good time to daydream about vacations and warmer travel destinations. No matter the season, our team at Designsensory is creating and developing ways to enhance travel, tourism and destination marketing. While some of you reading this may not be in the tourism industry, we’re sure these trends and our best-in-category solutions are insightful for every marketer.

Designsensory knows tourism. It shows throughout our process. From the first concepts we bring to our experienced, collaborative approach, we know how to create a brand that will entice visitors to destinations, intriguing and delighting them once they connect with our content. We're driven by focusing on results—the results you, as a client, want to see—no matter the size or location of the destination. We've designed productive campaigns at the state and regional level, as well as county, city, neighborhood and district initiatives.

We are more than merely part of a conversation with your team. To help get the destination story started, we’re comfortable guiding digital and integrated problem-solving, asking and answering questions, and engaging in a collaborative approach. Let's look at five trends for destination marketing and what we’re doing to stay ahead of the curve.

Expand Your Communication Goals

Shift all-important key performance indicators, KPIs, for your digital and integrated efforts from travel guides mailed, heads-in-beds or butts-in-seats to encompass more moments throughout a journey. We’ve helped spur success for destination clients by focusing on measurement categories of demand, engagement and conversion with separate KPIs for each.

Measuring Demand

KPIs: unique visits, inbound links, referrals, social shares, likes

Measuring Engagement

KPIs: time on site, page shares, video views, partner page views (value to partners)

Measuring Conversion

KPIs: vacation requests, itinerary planning, retrospective travel, click-through rates on partners

Embrace Seamlessly Sharing Your Destination

We know sharing is fundamental to social media. Sharing your story in content and creativity with other Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) can also enhance your destination's brand efforts. Rather than a singular focus on what your community has to offer, recognize that your location is one of many stops. Showcasing the destination connections helps visitors piece together their larger journey.

Designsensory partnered with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development to create 16 apps for Tennessee’s Trails and Byways program. DMOs and CVBs across the state collaborated to enhance each trail app, bringing together a seamless, shared story. 

Integrate Communication Efforts

Whether your audience is a tour group, a business looking to relocate, weekend road trippers, conventioneers, locals, the travel press or others, developing an integrated campaign focused on each segment will allow your destination to create moments that connect on any device, from desktop to tablet to mobile and in the spaces and places that matter.

Among other initiatives, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development motivates businesses, musicians, entertainers and filmmakers to live, work and perform in Tennessee. Our integrated campaign efforts to help achieve these goals included original photography, video and development of websites and print pieces.

Remember Residents

Destination marketers that stay focused on travelers and tourists may be missing out on one of their most important groups—residents of that community. Even if your website isn’t targeting tourists—rather, focused on the people who live and work in your area—a compelling digital presence can play a key role in community building, promotion and DMO performance.

Designsensory is working with the city of Milton, Georgia, to develop a new website that goes beyond the typical bureaucratic site and promises personalization, highlights the relationship between the city and its residents, and spotlights relevant and timely news.

Create Never-Ending Content Wells

Rarely does anyone want that perfect vacation or destination visit to end. Neither should your content. Social media and content calendars, public relations and other campaign efforts create strong connections. Travel happens in stages: daydreaming, researching, planning, visiting, sharing, decision-making, booking. And, if the experience is wonderful, often we make plans to revisit the destination. When a vacation comes to an end, engagement with that destination and your connection with the experiences can continue.

We’re always proud to celebrate this great state, and its new travel website—as well as producing and developing the state’s most impactful seasonal advertising campaign to date, with original photography and videos spotlighting regions. The experience was an amazing chance to showcase the Volunteer State and welcome everyone to Tennessee. 

Remember, there's more to tourism marketing than just getting the information out there. Our campaigns work to move people from destination awareness to folks sharing stories, then all the way to planning a return trip. We're excited to be your travel partner throughout the journey.

Comments (0)|Posted by: Joseph Nother, 18 December 2014 at 10:05am

Fresh Fall Faces

As an organization, we are deeply committed to continuous learning, and growing inside and outside our walls. Interns who work with us are invaluable to us and our growth. Superhero DS interns for this fall semester are Courtney Gibson, Joey Hathaway and Brayan Zavala. Courtney and Brayan work with our designers, while Joey works with our strategist and public relations staffers.

Courtney Gibson

Courtney is a Knoxville native and a senior at the University of Tennessee. She plans to graduate in May with a BFA in graphic design and a minor in journalism and electronic media.

“I love the ability to make clever moments happen with what I can create visually in meaningful ways,” she muses. “I also love the ability to be a storyteller with design.”

Courtney’s stint at Designsensory this fall marks her first time working with an agency. She has relished refining her skills for both print and web layouts, and learning about branding. “I went through the branding process for my own project so it has definitely been neat to see it come to fruition with logo design and web applications.” While she assists with other projects, her main focus has been creating a new site design for Knoxville’s First Friday.

In her spare time, Courtney likes to read, do yoga, knit, and be outdoors.

Joey Hathaway

Joey, from Glasgow, Missouri, is a senior majoring in advertising at the University of Tennessee. He works mainly with Strategist Josh Loebner and Public Relations and Media Specialist Casey Self.

“Designsensory is a one-of-a-kind agency with a culture and ethic that is unmatched in Knoxville,” Joey observes. While at Designsensory, he's learned how to turn secondary research into a strategic direction that benefits clients and makes their advertising and public relations efforts more effective. Joey’s favorite project thus far has been a pro bono website for Knoxville’s First Friday. It has allowed to him to fully develop a project with his fellow interns, seeing it through from start to finish, with a little help from DS staffers.

During downtime, Joey likes to hang out with friends and annoy his puppy as much as humanly possible.

Brayan Zavala

Brayan was born in Moroleon Guanajuato, Mexico, but moved to Chicago when he was just a year old. When Brayan was five, his family moved to Knoxville where he is currently a senior at the University of Tennessee. Brayan will graduate with a BFA in graphic design.

“I love that graphic design is about easing communication through visual solutions,” says Brayan. “It’s so open-ended and connects all kinds of people. Essentially it’s creative problem-solving.” He considers our designers at Designsensory very progressive in their visual choices, adding, “Designsensory is really in tune with their clients and strives to create great moments and touch points with each project and client.”

Brayan has learned that collaboration is key. He takes note of how his colleagues utilize each creative’s specific talent, while encouraging collaboration to create the best piece possible. By working with other DS staff members, aside from the designers, he has observed that creatives here have specific skill sets. “However, if you allow others to collaborate and work with each other, magic tends to happen,” he says.

So far, his favorite project has been working on a website for Retire Tennessee. Initially coming into DS, he wasn’t really interested in web design, but has a new appreciation for it since he’s been able to see the creation of this website from start to finish. He found out he really enjoys the process of making websites because it allows him to come up with great moments throughout the site that make it memorable.

Brayan is a portrait photographer and loves to get to know people through his work. He’s done a few projects with local firemen, paramedics and veterans.

We offer a number of competitive internships each year in the fields of graphic design, web development and computer programming. Check into our internships, for more information.

Comments (0)|Posted by: Joseph Nother, 23 November 2014 at 6:08pm

Have Drone, Will Travel

At Designsensory, we believe in the power of richly crafted stories. We’ve been hard at work (and having lots of fun) with our production partner, PopFizz, creating rich media that helps clients promote their brands. We’ve collaborated with PopFizz on photo and video shoots from Anderson County, Tennessee, to Cook Inlet, Alaska. On the ground and in the air, on four-wheelers and oil rigs, we’ve captured amazing images that tell great stories.

PopFizz’s talented photographers and production staff are a perfect accompaniment to our creative crew here at Designsensory. Our philosophy is to create moments of truth—experiences that inspire people to act. As our name implies, we’re about connecting all the senses and integrating across print, digital, video and beyond. Our relationship with PopFizz adds that extra layer of value that helps us offer fully integrated solutions for our clients. Below are some examples of how our partnership with PopFizz has enhanced some of our work.

When one of our clients, PetSafe, wanted an online video and national commercial, along with photography for print ads used in a national campaign, we called in the PopFizz crew. Our team wrote the scripts, found the talent, scouted the locations, and designed the look of the videos and photographs to satisfy the goals of the advertisements. After all the prep work, we partnered with our PopFizz friends to carry out the task of producing images that would fit perfectly with the campaign’s overall look and feel.

For STEM Scouts, a new educational program from the Boy Scouts of America, our collaborative work with PopFizz ran the gamut from scriptwriting to postproduction. Together, we captured still photos of students as they did experiments. We built a Rube Goldberg machine for a television commercial. In keeping with the purpose of the program—to educate youth about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) through hands-on learning—we used footage of the cast and crew shot during production for a fun and educational, behind-the-scenes video.

No place is too far to go for great shots, not even Alaska. Earlier this year, Bryan Allen and his PopFizz crew got a bird’s-eye view of beautiful Cook Inlet, shooting breathtaking images of the oil drilling operations of Designsensory client Miller Energy. By working closely with PopFizz, we were able to capture the images we needed, in the way we needed them, to use across several of Miller Energy’s print and electronic pieces.

In Anderson County, PopFizz and Designsensory covered four-wheelers, museums, water sports and wildlife. Web-based video and still photography for Big South Fork Air Park promoted the community’s airstrip and equestrian facilities. Footage shot with our drone helps promote industrial sites across the state for the Tennessee Economic Development Commission. That’s right, we have a drone, and we're not afraid to use it.

Comments (0)|Posted by: Joseph Nother, 23 November 2014 at 5:49pm


Alison Ashe

Alison Ashe

Alison solves visual communication problems through a process of research, concept exploration, and original thinking.

Matt Honkonen

Matt Honkonen

Matt came to Knoxville from Chattanooga, where he worked as the senior strategist with the marketing and public relations department of a large digital agency. He has worked with a wide variety of brands, helping to solidify digital presence and develop a

Sarah Loebner

Sarah Loebner

Sarah worked for agencies in Ohio and Boston before coming to Knoxville seven years ago and burnishing her reputation as an innovative designer and fresh thinker. While inspiring design is her form of communication her passion lies in client partnerships,

Josh Loebner

Josh Loebner

Josh combines research and strategic thinking as the foundation for powerful, goal-oriented marketing experiences.

Lindsay Miller

Lindsay Miller

Lindsay is dedicated to the unrelenting pursuit of delivering unique, effective media solutions that bring a company's message to life.

Joseph Nother

Joseph Nother

As co-founder and creative director for Designsensory, Joseph oversees teams that deliver award-winning and compelling design.

Brandon Rochelle

Brandon Rochelle

Brandon, co-founder and technical director, oversees technology development spanning interactive work through online marketing.

Susan Sewell

Susan Sewell

Susan brings a background as a writer, senior editor, promotion specialist and project manager.

Ben Smith

Ben Smith

Ben is a designer, illustrator, cook, banjo player, guitarist, cyclist, rock climber and backpacker, who also happens to be exceptionally humble.  As a former intern (Bentern), who joined the team full-time (Benployee) in June 2013 after earning a B.F.A

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