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January Luncheon: Branding The Maker City

January Luncheon: Branding The Maker City


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.

Pictures from our October 2015 Luncheon!

Pictures from our September 2015 Luncheon!

KAMA Hosts Its First Ever Sellout Luncheon!

The August 12 luncheon featuring Jimmy Delaney, UTK Assistant Athletic Director, Sales & Marketing, was the chapter’s first ever sellout luncheon! Ninety-four professionals attended the event, sponsored by HoundDogs.

Delaney discussed the marketing strategy behind the recent, very successful July 1 launch of the new Nike-UTAD merchandise. He took the attendees through the 17-month process of developing the brand with Nike in the lead-up to the launch.

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Highlights from the luncheon include:

  • #OneOf119 social media campaign added 10K followers
  • July 1 launch concept was developed on a plane ride
  • The entire UT sports website was rebranded in the middle of the live launch on July 1st.
  • YouTube was used to broadcast the Nike launch. Noon was chosen as a good time for several reasons, including reaching multiple time zones in the US and hitting the sweet spot of lunchbreaks for many UT fans on the East Coast.
  • Broadcast launch viewership was comparable to a national signing day.
  • Launch garnered 55K online views and broke sales records for both the online and Gate 20 store.
  • Delaney confirmed what we all know: Coach Jones is the coolest coach in the SEC!


This was the highest attended KAMA luncheon in recent history, and only the first luncheon of the chapter’s new year, which runs July-June. Other exciting luncheon topics are coming your way, so keep an eye on your inbox (or sign up for our mailing list), and be sure to follow KAMA on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin, if you haven’t already.

The next luncheon will be on Wednesday, September 9 and will feature Communications Coach Ellen Kern.

Takeaways from September’s Sponsorship Marketing and Nonprofit Panel Discussion

Christine Hawks with MRA Services

Takeaways provided by Christine Hawks with MRA Services

Our well-attended Knoxville American Marketing Association luncheon on September 11, 2013, featured a panel discussion on the topic of sponsorships between corporations and nonprofits.  The presenters were US Cellular and its nonprofit partners, the Bijou and Tennessee theatres, managed by AC Entertainment (local venues); and Jewelry Television and its nonprofit partner, the American Heart Association. Some takeaways were affirmations about what’s on par with trends, while others are grist for future programs and discussions.


  • The nonprofits from our luncheon panel referred to respective “sponsors” as partners, and to corporate support as a “partnership.”
  • Creating comprehensive custom packages is desired by both sides, the sponsoring corporation and the nonprofits.
  • Key to a great nonprofit-corporate match is to research the company in advance and ascertain whether it’s an all-around good fit. It will serve to get potential sponsors’ attention, and as a point of decision for whether that sponsor will invest in you.

Something New:

  • It’s important to have matching values. US Cellular said it wouldn’t consider a sponsorship that doesn’t somehow tie back into its #1 priority of customer experience and putting the customer first. US Cellular said that if a nonprofit cannot demonstrate that pretty quickly in its pitch, it’s a no-go. A similar response came from Jewelry TV. Its research indicates that JTV’s primary demographic is women. Since health is a central concern for its primary demographic, JTV created a campaign around that in its partnership with the AHA.
  • Long-term partnerships seem to be becoming rarer. Both corporations on the luncheon panel said that a majority of the time they commit to a one-year sponsorship, since they have to regularly demonstrate ROI each year, compared to the budgets they’ve been given.
  • Nonprofits can and should help corporates determine ROI. One of the best tools to sustain renewal is a fulfillment report. The AHA said it does this for every sponsor at the end of every year.  Jewelry TV confirmed that its evaluation of this aids in the decision whether or not to continue the partnership. Simple, measurable metrics are included with the report. The key is to understand upfront, during the negotiation process, the objectives for each parties’ success, available assets, what each side was willing to commit, and determining how to create a win for both sides.
  • The AHA offers only custom sponsorship packages, period. As the speaker described, AHA doesn’t offer any “precious metal” sponsorship packages (i.e. silver, gold, bronze). She said that AHA recognizes that not every company is a fit, so there is a conversation with each potential partner to create a custom package for that organization.

*Content generously provided by our own Christine Hawks with MRA Services!

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