Holiday Giving

The holiday season is the perfect time of year to take a moment to appreciate all that you have. It is unfortunate that not everyone is as lucky as I am. During the year, and especially at the holidays, I try to give back. With children dreaming of Santa coming, I typically donate to organizations that support children who need help to make their holidays special. This year, my entire family has decided to adopt children, families, elderly and even shelter animals instead of exchanging gifts in hopes of making an even bigger impact in our communities and celebrating the true meaning of Christmas.

This year, I encourage everyone to give back to the people in your community that need it most. Even the smallest donation can impact someone’s life. There are great organizations locally and nationwide that would love your support. If you’re a shopper like me, find an organization that allows you to donate purchased items. If time is not on your side, organizations would be grateful for your donation of any size so they will be able to purchase things that are needed most.


Here are some of my favorites:

Have a very Happy Holidays and a wonderful New Year!
– Heather

15 Acts of Kindness – Donating Time, Mind and Heart

As part of our year-long MDG_15 Year Logo_Stacked_Colorcelebration we’re taking stock in what we believe. Last Thursday we kicked off “15 Acts of Kindness.” These acts are our team’s small way to contribute to our community because we believe that giving our time and talent can make a difference. We believe that no one should go hungry. Our annual #SignToGive campaign is one way we support this belief. #SignToGive will launch on Giving Tuesday – November 28, 2017 . Last week , we paused client work and came together for a community service day.

GtrChicagoFoodDepositoryWe volunteered at the Greater Chicago Food Depository.  Over 700 partners in Cook County benefit from the generous donations of food and volunteers. Together we hope to work towards the goal of ending hunger.

That’s 160,000 meals a day.

McKenna Design Group believes that we receive more than we give. We acknowledge the need to express gratitude every day. While packing enough chickens to feed 4,100 families, I watched as volunteers from across Greater Chicagoland came together. Everyone worked together, and, like a colony of ants, intuitively knew when to shift stations, help another team out, or pick up the slack. I was encouraged by the partnership, support and trust we all contributed to support meals for so many families in our community.

Hunger impacts 1 in 6 children. I’m grateful for the ability to make a difference, no matter how small.

Amazing Clients. Amazing Work.

I’m grateful for the opportunity our company has to work for so many amazing clients. We’re honored to be trusted with their brands and marketing communications.

Our 15 Acts of Kindness will help us round out our anniversary year. Sometimes even the smallest act of kindness can change someone’s day. I’m going to try.

Satisfaction Survey, Focus Group or Both?

MDG_NAR Chicago Eblast_10 2017_Does Your Association Value Prop Stick-

Know thy member. Understanding the evolving needs of members and identifying gaps to align your strategic plan is imperative. Where to allocate budgets, what programs to focus on and how to prioritize scarce staff resources. So what’s the best course of action? Should you conduct a member needs assessment or invest in a focus group? Or both? Consider the following:


The biggest pros:

  • Online surveys are very efficient
  • The data does not lie
  • It’s a scanning exercise that leads to planning
  • It’s objective

Don’t assume you know what members are thinking – focus on the facts. Surveys capture contemporary feedback from wide audience segments with concrete results that can be analyzed and presented to your Board.

For next year or the next three years, these can provide an excellent, objective backdrop to strategically plan:

  • Insights into member value (what’s valuable)
  • Behavior (what do they use)
  • Communication preferences (which channels and how often)

This is a critical management step to determine how to drive engagement and value through your association’s programs and services.

“McKenna Group’s work on our member survey was vital to the creation of our new marketing plan.  We now have a much better understanding of the value that we provide our membership and the best way to structure our value proposition.”

Bill Head
Director of Communications
MetroTex Association of REALTORS®


Why conduct a focus group?

  • Dig deeper into the minds of your members
  • Allow key stakeholders to share first-hand perspectives and feedback on a variety of high-level topics: your association’s programs, services and delivery channels

Being able to ask follow-up questions and read body language can be vital to getting the truth on how members feel about current and future programming. It’s critical to have the CSE (chief staff executive) and CEO (chief elected officer) help to steward the process to invite attendees but no ask questions directly.

Hiring a third-party facilitator often provides the necessary “let your hair down” atmosphere to hear members’ blunt input and probe deeper. A recapping deliverable is often helpful to provide CSE and Board insights and member preferences. This can become the bedrock for strategic planning efforts and keeps the Board thinking strategically and engaged.

McKenna Design GroupMDG_NAR Chicago Eblast_10 2017_or both_Member Survey Circle

With over 15 years of experience in the real estate industry, McKenna Design Group supports scanning, planning and implementing a wide range of association solutions including:

  • Satisfaction surveys
  • Successful focus groups
  • Strategic planning
  • Increased member engagement

The best solution is catered to the specific needs of your association and goals of your Board. Contact MDG.

Building Brands Since 2002 – 15 Year Fiesta

Little Agency. Big Story.

McKenna Design Group celebrates 15 years in 2017. We’re taking this year to take stock in the Olympic-learning since 2002. Because lessons are to be learned each step of the way. First, it’s a great way to thank our clients, and second, a great way to recognize the MDG team members who have created brands. Designed user experiences. Created memorable branded action. Connecting brands with members, customers and the market. Wow. A lot has changed since 2002.

15 Years of Change

To say the world has changed a lot in fifteen years is an understatement. It seems like the world has completely changed. For example:

We’ve learned a lot over 15 years. We continue to learn and improve. Every day. Building integrated marketing, customer journeys and branded user experiences that help our clients grow and succeed. Designing brands that drive engagement and build business.

Brands are like sharks. Keep swimming or sink. McKenna Design Group keeps swimming forward to continuously improve.

Check out how we’ve changed and grown since 2002:

The original
W-MDG logo-03

Elizabeth McKenna joins as Principal/Managing Partner


mdg moves into 725 Chicago Avenue – a design studio is formed


Celebrating 15 year years

MDG_15 Year Logo_Long_Color

What the Future Holds

Stick around to see how mdg brand continues to evolve and grow for the next fifteen.

Interested in a social media consultation? Email us:


*History and Growth of the Internet to Today

**InterBrand’s Best Global Brands

National Color Day – Red

red roses-photo
A Sea of Red Roses

In the red forest that blanketed the earth like a sea of roses, when time sang with the voice of the earth mother, when the tides of time, in rising, swelled, full of like, when milky breasts flowed endlessly, and it was the beginning, and life reflected the blood-red day, and I was new, and I came into love…

-Chantal Chawaf (1943-)

About Red:

  • More than any other color, red symbolizes strength.
  • Red is seen best by the human eye because, of all the rays in the light spectrum, this color refracts most rapidly on the retina.
  • The Onge of the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal cover themselves everyday from birth with a mixture containing red ocher to guard against illness and scorpion bites.

Famous Logos Using Red:

Coca-Cola, Netflix and Target Corporation

Thank you to Anne Varichon’s Book – Colors, What They Mean and How to Make Them, for supplying content and inspiration.

What was the last campaign you remember? Was it “I’m lovin’ it” or maybe a campaign centered on a sporting event? The most powerful campaigns pull at our heartstrings and spur us to action. At McKenna Design Group we tell a broad range of stories. Check out one of our favorites.

National Color Day – Black

black dog-photo

“Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.”

–Henry Ford

About Black:

  • The Hausa in Nigeria, a black heart characterizes an angry man, a cheat, and an enemy, while a “black belly” represents a sad man.
  • The people of Uruk in present day Iraq use the term “black” to signify both very ripe fruit and arable land.
  • The earliest examples of papyruses composed with lampblack-based inks date back to 2600 B.C.

Famous Logos Using Black:

American Broadcasting Company, Nike, Inc. and Adidas

Thank you to Anne Varichon’s Book – Colors, What They Mean and How to Make Them, for supplying content and inspiration.

Technology can be black or white. Either it works or it doesn’t. We prefer when it does. And so do our clients. And their customers. Integrated marketing delivers a consistent branded experience at each step of the user experience. We all want brand loyalists. And advocates. What’s keeping you from attracting yours? See how McKenna Design Group builds brand.

National Color Day – Brown


“I cannot pretend to feel impartial about colors. I rejoice with the brilliant ones and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns.”

–Winston Churchill

About Brown:

  • The Japanese do not have a specific word for brown. Rather, they use more descriptive names such as “tea-color,” “fox-color,” and “fallen-leaf.”
  • Brown is the color of security, protection and wealth.
  • If you dream of the color brown, it means you will be lucky with money.

Famous Logos Using Brown:

A&W Root Beer, United Parcel Service, Inc and M&M’s

How do you break through – in awareness, messaging and engagement? UPS provides a great example of how a brand can literally own a category. Capitalizing on the strength and omnipresence of brown through their trucks, uniform, branded packaging UPS’ 2002 campaign “What can brown do for us?” upped the ante from just a service delivery to all of the steps in the process.

“At UPS, brown is more than a color — it’s a tangible asset that people associate with all the things that are good about our brand.”

said Dale Hayes, vice president for brand management and customer communications, in a news release. “This campaign extends that association to the scope of new, and perhaps lesser known, capabilities we offer the marketplace.”

Does your organization ‘own’ a color? See how color can build preference and loyalty.

National Color Day – Green


Green: said of many things which have green in them. People speak of an evergreen oak because it is green all the time. And certain cabbages are called green cabbages because their leaves do not whiten like those of white cabbages.

-Antoine Furetiere (1619-1688) From his Dictionnarie universel (Universal Dictionary), the publication of white cause his expulsion from the Academie Francaise.

About Green:

  • No plant contain pigments capable of dyeing fabric a vivid green resistant to sunlight and repeated washing. Humans learned that adding yellow and blue they could create it.
  • To dream of green is a sign of good fortune in China: the sleeper can rely on his vitality. But if the color pervades the entire dream, it signifies that he is subject to savage forces.
  • Interior designers recommend using green to create a soothing atmosphere.

Famous Logos Using Green:

BP (British Petroleum), Starbucks Corporation and The Girl Scouts of the United States of America

Thank you to Anne Varichon’s Book – Colors, What They Mean and How to Make Them, for supplying content and inspiration.

Starbucks has spent endless hours to create sticky relationships with customers. Brand loyalty and consumer advocacy is the end game. And a cup of joe.

McKenna Design Group helps Associations grow. More members. More engagement. More Green. Learn how Loyalty and Advocacy make it happen.

McKenna Design Group is a full-service marketing communications and technology firm in Chicago. Hire us and we'll develop integrated, results-driven solutions. Our promise? Return on Experience.® We build a brand so customers advocate for you.

GSA NAICS Codes 541430, 541511, 541613, 541810, 541910