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AMA Knoxville’s January Luncheon, hosted at The Square Room in Market Square, was a great start to 2018! Joseph Nother, executive creative director and founder of Designsensory, guided the attendees through his team’s journey to brand Knoxville as “The Maker City.”

On the eve of Designsensory’s 16th anniversary, the team decided they want to give back to their community and approached Knoxville leadership in search of public work that aligned with this theme. When the city pitched the idea of branding Knoxville, the team immediately said yes, stating that this was something that they could “sink their teeth into.”

“It was wonderful to see the city and the mayor and those in public office see this as something important,” Nother said. “I think we should all look at that and be proud of the leadership and what they’re trying to do.”

Nother and his team began their eight-month journey by first outlining the Maker Movement and decided it uniquely applies to the Knoxville community. Ultimately, the Maker Movement was defined as an “umbrella term for individual inventors, designers, and tinkerers that tap into an American admiration for self-reliance…”

When describing the “why” behind their creative process, Nother explained, “More and more people want a more meaningful consumptive experience.” Trends like localism stem from “the desire to infuse meaningfulness in the consumptive actions and behavior that we have, so it is not so transactional.”

“The future of Knoxville’s economic success belongs to individual innovators and artisans,” he said.

Inspired by Knoxville being named as Etsy’s first “Maker City,” Nother and his team wanted to expand on the idea of localism and meaningfulness. As Nother explained, “branding is essentially short for meaningfulness.” Their job at this point was to capitalize on the meaningfulness of the Maker Movement in the Knoxville community.

The Designsensory team set to define Knoxville’s niche in a “sea of ambiguity” that surrounds the Maker Movement. Through an extensive trial-and-error process, the team strived to name and define the movement that represents the collective. Eventually, they decided on a name and idea that is “broad and representational” as to not “lose people and their relationship to the movement.”

Moving on to the visual identity, Nother and his team wanted to channel the look and vibe of the Knoxville area. They began by developing a universal design that appealed to everyone in the Maker Movement, both businesses and individual tinkerers. By creating flexible brand guidelines, they created a system that allows Knoxville natives to adapt the logo to their unique and diverse needs.  In the end, Designsensory was able to create a “unified vision” that successfully encompasses the entirety of the Maker Movement in the Knoxville community.

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