REBELs with a Creative Cause

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Posted by on in Websites

Welcome back to our SEO series—designed to help you build your brand's searchability! There's a ton of information out there about how to best position your website to be as SEO-friendly as possible, and we're here to help you make sense of it all.

In our last post, we talked about what search engines are and how they work. In this post, we're going to talk about how people interact with search engines.

How People Use Search Enginesphoto

Being good at SEO means knowing your audience, how they search, and how the experience they have with your site affects your SEO.

First and foremost, search engines want to return relevant results to their users. As users' ability to search have evolved, so have search engines. Today it can almost seem as though search engines are reading your mind.

So when people find your site through search, will they be happy with the information they find on your site? Here is some data provided by Moz that will help you understand how users search and how powerful it can be:

  • Interactive marketing will near $77 billion in 2016, representing 26% of all advertising budgets
  • Search is the new Yellow Pages (does anyone get those huge books anymore?)
  • The #1 position in Google's search results receives 18.2% of all clicks, the second receives 10.1%, the third 7.2%, and all others are under 2%.

What does all this mean? It means that search is growing and will only continue to grow. It also means that showing up in the first few results should matter to your brand. So what can you do to get there? Here's a hint: give people information that matters to them.

Stay tuned for our next installment on why search engine marketing is necessary to take your brand's presence online to the next level.

Corey & Mikala

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Art vs. design…are they one in the same or completely different? My personal opinion: they’re different, yes, but related. Here’s the final part of my 3-part series explaining why:context


When is the last time you saw a design piece in an art gallery? With my luck, you just saw one before you read this. My point, though, is that design is rarely displayed as a piece of art – standing alone on display for the sake of itself. Art is in a gallery for people to view and interpret, so this, again, goes back to purpose and interpretation. Art can stand alone. Art can be interpreted. An audience can stand in front of it, think about it, and connect with it however they wish. Design, though, is more straightforward. We see it everywhere – billboards, streets, bulletin boards, TV, internet, signs, posters, and so on. You are bombarded with all sorts of messages given to you through design every day. Because of design’s clarity and the fact that it’s almost anywhere you look, it’s easy to tune out and also wouldn’t be something that would hold one’s fascination at anywhere like a gallery.

While, in my mind, art and design are distinctly different for these reasons, I can’t claim that one is better than the other or that they’re totally departed from one another. One is more entertaining, the other more utilitarian. Both serve a purpose, are a form of creativity, and can be personal to different extents.

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Art vs. design…are they one in the same or completely different? My personal opinion: they’re different, yes, but related. Here’s the second part of my 3-part series explaining why:


A major difference between these two subjects is the way they are interpreted. Art can be a powerful tool to move people, and so can design. However, there’s a reason that there are several classic paintings from centuries past that are commonly seen and known by all - art is personal. Though an artist may have an initial message or intention in mind, the beauty of art is that message can be interpreted, taken, debated, and talked about in many different ways, depending on the viewer and the art.

Design can be quite personal, depending on the message and the execution. To be effective, design must have a specific message and be able to effectively communicate that message, brand voice, or whatever the design is being made for. Because of this, it allows very little room for interpretation. Of course, there are some items out there, such as the FedEx logo, that can be seen in a couple different ways – one either just sees the letters, or if one looks more closely, you can see a white arrow within the space between E and x. Still, visual decisions such as that in design are either made or kept because they serve a purpose and support the overall message or brand identity. It is said that good art will send many different messages, while good design will only send one.

Stay tuned for the final reason art and design are connected…coming soon!

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artvsdesignSince my own beginnings in the creative world, I’ve been into it all. I paint, draw, photograph, and of course, design things. I identify as an artist. However, I also identify as a graphic designer. Graphic design is one of the more prominent career choices when it comes to using a creative and artistic skillset, and it is often considered very different from being an artist. Still, when I tell others that I’m a designer and just do art on the side, I often get the response, “Well, graphic design IS a form of art, amirite?” This got me thinking about the debate of art vs. design—are they one in the same or completely different? My personal opinion: they’re different, yes, but related.

This is the first part of my 3-part series explaining why.

Purpose and Audience

One of the bigger differences between art and design is the purpose of a piece. Art can be created for a variety of reasons: for fun, for a cause, to highlight an emotion or idea, and so on. It can also be made for an audience, but doesn’t necessarily have to be. In any case, art is often created for the sake of expression of an emotion, idea, or point. Design can also be done for these reasons, but it is almost always done to support a message or idea, be it a brand experience or a call to action. This message, and thus the aesthetic of it, are there to be communicated to another person or group, so unlike art, an audience is necessary for good design. Since graphic design is mostly seen in the commercial arena, its purpose is most always to move an audience to act or think according to that message, with the goal often being to make a sale or gain support for a cause.

Stay tuned for the other two reasons why art and design are connected…coming soon!


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Posted by on in Websites

SEO Series Introduction

Hello world! Corey Birkmann, Interactive Director, and Mikala Harden, Content Strategist, here to welcome you to our new SEO (Search Engine Optimization) series.

There's a ton of information out there about how to best position your website to be as SEO-friendly as possible, and we're here to help you make sense of it all. Over the course of 2014 we are going to be sharing some of the best practices in user experience and content strategy we have adopted over the years, as well as introduce you to any emerging practices.


What Are Search Engines and How Do They Operate?

First, we want to share one of our favorite resources for anyone wanting to get familiar with SEO: Moz. Moz provides a bunch of valuable, modern SEO resources that will help you become a master of your site's searchability. We will be referencing this resource throughout our SEO series.

Today we are going to explain what search engines are and give a brief overview of the primary factors that help search engines determine what's important. We will be getting more in-depth with each of these factors as this series progresses.

What Are Search Engines?

Search engines like Google or Bing have two major functions: crawling the web to continue finding the most relevant content and providing the user with that content.

How Do They Work?

We like to think of it as a popularity contest. The more popular your page becomes, the higher its relevance is to a search engine. The first step in determining if your site has the potential to be popular is auditing your site's content (text, images, audio, and video).

Relevant content is the #1 thing we look for on a site. If a page does not have useful content that people are searching for, the odds that people are going to find and share the info are slim. Once you determine that your content is useful, you want to make sure it is properly marked up. Including the correct usage of page titles, header tags, friendly URLs, cross-linking and image alt tags helps ensure the page is properly structured, easy to read, and relevant.

Since we know popularity also comes into play, the first step after relevant content and the structure are correctly in place is to determine if others agree with what we're saying. Search engines use a number of ways to determine this, including the ranking of other websites linking to you, social media engagement, and the list goes on.

In the coming months we will tackle content, structure, and increasing page popularity. We look forward to helping clear some of the mystique surrounding SEO and providing ways to help get your site in tip top shape for search engines.

Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to stay updated on when new posts are available!
Corey & Mikala

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Posted by on in Branding

What are the 4 types of brands? How can you distinguish between them? Learn from the brand evangelist herself:



Tagged in: brand experience
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Posted by on in Brand Management

We live in an age when we are inundated with communications. Now, more than ever, clear and effective communication is vital. Clearly expressing your personal voice or your brand's voice is crucial in connecting with others.shutterstock 113242627

With the fast pace of communication, it's easy to take shortcuts that seem to be time-savers; but these seemingly convenient time savers can not only hinder the effectiveness of your communications, they can also cost you valuable time.

Let's look at a typical email as an example:

Hi, Mary. We have an exciting project coming-up and I would like to talk to you about getting some help. Please call or email me when you can. Thanks!

This email is not as clear and effective as it could be. Mary doesn't know why her (and potentially others') time is being requested, she doesn't know what sort of 'help' is needed, she doesn't know how or why this could potentially benefit her, and she doesn't have any real reason to respond with any urgency. Mary is busy – VERY busy.

Tagged in: clear communication
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While spending sometime this past weekend at a local music festival, I couldn't get over how important a smartphone was to many festivals attendees (myself included). It got me thinking that if Snoop Does your 2014 Online brand agenda include mobile?Dogg, Slayer, MGMT, Tenacious D and a whole slew of other acts can't command our sole attention at an event, then imagine how easy it is to have your brand overlooked in an everyday setting.

Instead of worrying about how, let's start by looking at where the users are most engaged: their beloved smartphones. In a March 2013 Facebook-sponsored research study, smartphone owners were asked how an array of activities on their phones made them feel. The top three results were: "connected," excited," and "curious/interested," while the bottom 3 were: "lonely," "burdened," and "stressed out." What does this tell us? People enjoy feeling connected and excited; they want to be in-the-know, not only with their friends but also with brands they enjoy.

Not only does the average smartphone user want to be in-the-know, they crave it. Recent studies have shown the average smartphone user reaches for their phone upwards of 150 times a day, and it's less and less often to make a phone call or send a text message. These are people who want to be engaged, want to kill a dull moment in a conversation, and want to find something share with their friends. That something could be you; it's all about being in the right place at the right time, and that place is in the palm of their hands.

While having a killer mobile website or mobile app plays a big part in your brand's mobile agenda, it also involves having a strong presence where mobile users are most engaged: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Social interaction and sharing plays a large part in the modern day word-of-mouth business. Not having a presence on multiple mobile avenues not only provides you less access to your customers now, but will also continue to be detrimental as mobile traffic surges each month. As 2013 is about ready for its curtain call, keep in mind that 2014 presents itself as a fresh opportunity for your brand to be part of your customers' everyday lives.

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There are a lot of people who make videos out there. As video technology continues to be more and more accessible (the iPhone 5 shoots at variable frame rates? Seriously?!), there are more and more people making videos. This is awesome, because—if done correctly—videos are such a phenomenal way to make an impact.

So how do you know who to hire to make a video for your company? Content is king. Check to see what the producer is actually doing with all the resources at his or her disposal. Every great video tells a story, has a goal, and is brand-centric. What do you want your potential customers to know about you? What is that real, authentic message that you can convey that your competitors can't? It's about creativity, sight, sound, motion, and emotion.

Video has the ability to captivate a viewer more quickly and more genuinely than any other type of advertising or marketing tool. Make an emotional impact, and that potential customer will walk away with something better than information. They walk away with a feeling. A super high-def, 1080p feeling. If you get someone to feel connected to your business, then your marketing will be more successful, putting your brand in a position to win.

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Posted by on in Branding

What is branding? Many people believe it's synonymous with marketing and advertising. Learn the true meaning of branding from the brand evangelist herself:

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Posted by on in Branding

At REBEL we talk a lot about being on-brand, which means doing things in line with how we have positioned ourselves to be perceived by others. b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_93642514.jpg

Everyone and everything has a brand, whether they are aware of it or not, and everything that a person or an organization does is either brand-enhancing or brand-damaging. 

When you realize you have to go to the DMV to get your tags renewed, what’s the first thing that crosses your mind?  Probably something along the lines of, “Damn it, I don’t have all afternoon and they’re only open until like 4, so I can’t go after work.” 

The DMV may have an actual tagline, but we all know it should be, “Damn it, I don’t have all afternoon and they’re only open until like 4, so I can’t go after work.” 

The negative brand experiences we have are always easier to remember than the positive, and customers who have had negative experiences will go out of their way to tell other people to avoid the business or brand much more than communicating a positive experience

That’s because a brand of any kind is determined by the way people experience it. Which brings me to Jean-Claude Van Damme, aka “The Muscles from Brussels”.

Do you know who gave him that nickname? HIMSELF. Do you know who bought into it? EVERYONE. 

In our view, there are four types of brands: breakthrough brands, maybe brands, letdown brands and loser Brands. 

What makes or breaks a brand? Authenticity. Namely, being authentic about who you are, what you do and the kind of experience a person will have when working with you. Say what you will about JCVD, but dude’s brand is authentically rock solid, just like his abs. 

A breakthrough brand promises and fulfills a different customer experience than a letdown, loser, or maybe brand. Our CEO always talks about how people will pay ten times more for a breakthrough brand versus five times more for a maybe brand and “never again” for a letdown or loser brand.

So, what experience are you promising and delivering in your interactions with other human beings? In the broader business sense, what are you promising and then delivering your customers? 

As the Love Your Brand agency, if you don’t have any idea or need an objective analysis, we’d love to have a conversation. 

Come into our agency and experience our brand. 

And, you won’t need a handi-wipe right after you leave like you will at the DMV. 

Tagged in: brand experience
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It's 9:30am. How many brands have you already encountered today? 10? 15? If you're the average person, you've already come in contact with close to 100 brands.Out of those 100 brands, how many did you choose to encounter? How many of those brands did you choose because of a former experience?

Today, brand loyalty isn't determined because of cool logos or price tags; we choose the brands we're loyal to because of the experiences they create for us. Good experiences allow us to choose a brand once. Great experiences allow us to become a loyal brand fan forever.

Why are experiences important in choosing a brand? Experiences give people feelings, emotions, interactions, and most importantly, a response. We respond to good experiences by sharing them with others and buying more. One experience can be the ripple effect of how a brand becomes adored, chosen and loved by many!

What is a brand without an experience? It’s another product or service that doesn’t get recognition. If there's an aisle of toothpaste to choose from but we walk to the very back of it for a special brand, we're doing that because we've had a positive experience with that brand. You'd rather walk a little further for it than grab alternative for convenience. Ultimately, you’ve become a brand fan.

How can you make your brand an experience worth remembering and an experience your customers are going to want to choose every time? Make your brand authentic from the inside out. Make all of your touch points with a customer an experience that leaves an impression and one worth a response

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Yesterday Facebook released the new version of Page Insights for brands. The new version is clean and useful, and I think it’s a huge improvement. It’s been reorganized both aesthetically and structurally. Here’s why you should head over to your page now to check it out.

5 Things to Like About the New Facebook Page Insightsb2ap3_thumbnail_analytics.jpg

1. You can easily compare reach to engagement.

Why does this matter? Because if you know that a certain post has a high engagement percentage but a low number of people saw it, then you can easily boost the post to increase your reach, thus spreading a message you already know is popular with your audience.

2. You can determine the best day and time to post content.

There’s a bunch of data out there on which days of the week and hours of the day pages should post content, and some even offer data by industry, but Page Insights has taken it to a whole new level, giving each page access to their own, custom data on when their fans are online. 

3. You can compare external referrers and how your different tabs perform.

See which external referrers are driving people to your page, and which parts of your page people are engaging with the most. 

4. You have insight into which posts people would “dislike” if they had the option. 

Not to say you should focus on the negative, but there is now a way to review when and how often people are hiding your posts, reporting you as spam, and unliking your page. If you have a very large audience, this feature will help you decide which types of posts to cut form your editorial calendar. At the very least, it’s interesting to review.

5. You can easily boost the posts that have the most engaging content.

Look at that big, blue boost button just waiting to get clicked and work its numbers magic. Good for Facebook, good for me, good for everyone!

Want to know what else has changed? Watch Facebook’s video tutorial.

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Posted by on in Content

When we're approached with a website project, one of the first steps is to review content (text and images) and how it is structured. We start this process with a content and navigation audit, and it’s during that phase that we seek out the areas that need work and make recommendations on how to improve them. 

Here is a list of 5 common content mistakes you didn't know your website was making.

1. Your brand is missing.

You aren’t telling your brand story unless you are telling your brand story! Is the copy and imagery on your site brand-enhancing or brand-damaging? Are you using your brand voice? A consistent, authentic tone? Are you considering your audience? Are your mission, vision, values, passions, and tagline shining? People experience your brand everywhere that you communicate, especially on your website, so it’s in your best interest to make that experience the best it can be.

2. You can't find your voice.

From which perspective do you tell your brand story? Are you speaking directly to the reader, or are you using 3rd person to generalize the copy? Chances are you’re flip flopping between the two unintentionally. Depending on your audience and industry, one may make more sense than the other (although I favor the conversational second person), but whichever way you go, make sure you’re consistent.

3. You’re hard to get ahold of. b2ap3_thumbnail_content.jpg

Believe it or not, many websites unintentionally make it difficult for people to contact them. If it's not missing a contact page altogether, I'll find it hidden in a secondary navigation or my only option will be to fill out a contact form in order to reach someone. Ideally, your contact page should be easy to find and include several different ways to contact you.

4. Your information is messy.

Content organization is an art, and not everyone is inherently good at it. And as time goes on, best practices evolve. Most websites out there could use a makeover when it comes to what content goes where. How can this information be condensed and simplified? How can we make this navigation easier on the eyes? How can we reduce the amount of clicks it takes to get people to the information they need? What vital content is missing? What can be rearranged? These are all questions I ask myself during a content audit. 

5. Your information is too complex.

Many websites get too caught up in trying to position themselves as industry leaders that they sacrifice user experience. The truth is that today’s people are internet savvy and looking for instant-gratification. They don’t want to read paragraphs upon paragraphs of copy to understand your value proposition,. And if you hide key information under layers of sub-menus, your readers are going to jump ship before they see all the goodness you have to offer. The key is to be up-front and bold with copy while getting to the point. 

If you feel like your website is suffering from any of the above, you’re not alone. And the good news is you can fix it. Shoot us an email at for info on how to get started.

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Posted by on in Creative

Everyone loves to be wowed

A good wow stands on it’s own. It can be big or small. Planned or spontaneous. 

A wow factor involves care, attention, and authenticity, and its impact can be enormous. It’s a way to make people feel special and make a difference.

Push play to hear just one REBEL tale of an unforgettable wow moment that came at a time it was least expected.

At REBEL, we love to wow and be wowed. Do you have a story of a time you've been wowed or something you've done to wow someone else? Share it with us in the comment section!   

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Posted by on in Events

Today I was sitting down with MJ and Caroline when we started talking about why we have the REBEL Yell events and how they came to be. I decided to whip out my iPhone and capture the moment so you'd have a chance to hear the story, too!

Which cheesy snack was dinner at the first REBEL Yell? At what time did the longest REBEL Yell finally shut down? What can a first-timer expect? Find answers to these questions and more by pressing play!


Join us tomorrow (Friday, May 3) from 4-7PM for what promises to be a very fashionable REBEL Yell.



Tagged in: candid moments
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Once upon a time people thought the world was flat, breaking a mirror gave you seven years of bad luck, and that a mobile-friendly website wasn't as necessary as a regular website. That is not the case any longer. 

With mobile traffic making up a quarter of all web traffic, why is it still considered just an add-on or an afterthought? 

We are in an era where we can no longer afford to consider "the mobile web" as a secondary market. All web-capable devices—including your desktop, your tablet, and yes even your TV or refrigerator—access the same internet and we now have the capability to tailor the user experience for it.

When planning your brand's web presence. we must take into consideration all the ways users will interact with your website. There may be millions of people still using their laptops and desktops to browse your site, but there are also millions of users checking it out on their tablet from the couch or on their iPhone while in line at the grocery store. 

Today we have the opportunity to take advantage of multiple screen sizes, swiping,  pinch to zoom, gestures, and a whole slew of other features that are all aimed towards improving the user experience. A well-thought-out online strategy that takes into consideration all the ways users access the web can build your brand equity and ensure that your potential and existing customers can find the information they need, regardless of which device they're using.


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Posted by on in Branding

A culture of brand-enhancing service excellence isn't just born. It has to be intentionally nurtured, encouraged, and rewarded. Service branding is REBEL's love, because it allows us to get up close and b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_59952.jpgpersonal with the people behind an organization and ignite authentic transformation built upon everyone's input and ideas. 

I am often told that one of the most powerful parts of our brand soul workshops is when we discuss the "if you're breathing, you're branding" concept. It paints the picture we want to paint: that building a world-class service brand is about everyone being the brand internally and externally, and with every action and interaction. It inspires every employee, entry-level to C-suite, to imagine how they can make a difference. To a receptionist, maybe it means upgrading the way he or she answers the phone. To an accountant, maybe it influences the look and feel of invoices. To sales, maybe it's coming up with creative ways to bring the brand to life through proposals and tactics.

When you put REBEL in a room with your people, we include everyone in the conversation, ignite brand transformation across the board, and get your people talking about what's possible and how they can personally make a difference in changing the landscape for your brand. 

Isn't it time to start breathing life (and love) into your brand?

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South by Southwest (SXSW) is one of the world's most-loved festivals. Professionals, technology geeks, celebrities, and art enthusiasts descend upon Austin every March to attend the conference known for its groundbreaking, inspirational content on interactive, music, and film. 

For the past three years, REBEL has attended SXSW for a firsthand glimpse into what the future holds for everything interactive. This year REBEL sent me to meet up with Corey in Austin to get inspired, learn about breaking trends, and bring home some killer ideas for new programs and technology we can roll-out for our clients. 

Experience the festival for yourself by checking out our interactive presentation with photos, videos, and more.

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Posted by on in Creative

We all have the power to create, whether it's strumming a guitar, writing a play, cutting hair, detailing cars, gardening, or something else entirely. Finding out where our personal talents lie is the first step in personal breakthrough creative.


At REBEL, we thrive on and are inspired by creative breakthroughs each and every day. From finding the perfect brand soul for a client through a collaborative mind meld to a late night painting party, the opportunities for breakthroughs are all around us. 

Of course it’s very easy to get caught up in our day-to-day routines: work, kids, relationships, Celebrity Apprentice marathons. Creativity often gets thrown to the wayside for more "tangible" ventures and plans, but it really only takes a few minutes a day to tap into your creative self and construct a breakthrough in your own life. 

Here are 10 ways to inspire creativity in your life:

  1. When's the last time you had a good daydream? Take a few minutes out of every day to imagine. 
  2. Revisit the most authentic you: the five-year-old with no inhibitions to what you could dream, have, do, or be. 
  3. Choose a color and think of a memory you have involving that color. Who were you with? What emotions do you have? 
  4. Write a love note to someone you admire, even if you don’t send it. 
  5. Take a walk and jot down things you come across that envelop all five senses. 
  6. Draw. 
  7. Listen to Beethoven. 
  8. If you had an elephant, where would you hide it and why?  
  9. Eat something new. 
  10. Write down the first words that come to mind in alphabetical order. Amazing, brand,'ll be astonished by the words you come up with. 

When you tap into your unfiltered creative mind, the possibilities—both within and outside of your daily life—become vast and endless.

What could your breakthroughs be?

Tagged in: creative freedom to be
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