September 6, 2017No Comments

Nostalgia marketing takes on Hollywood

One of the things I hear asked a lot as a designer is "what's the next big thing?" Clients, account teams, and fellow designers all want to be a part of the next big trend or, when possible, want to influence the next big trend. It makes sense of course. No one in an the marketing/ad agency industry wants to be considered stale or behind the times. But sometimes in order to go forward we have to go back. Nostalgia marketing taps into that.

Nostalgia design and marketing never really go out of style. At any given time one brand or another is running a campaign tapping in the power of nostalgia. Why? Because Nostalgia makes us feel good. It takes us back to a time that we have positive associations with. And if done correctly, it allows brands to tap into the trust of the consumer.

So here's the thing: I am guilty of being sucked in by good nostalgia marketing this year. And it has been female celebrities that have been the biggest culprits. Let's take a look at some of the best nostalgia design/marketing so far in 2017.

Highs in the 80s

Atomic Blonde Poster

Atomic Blonde Poster

This year Charlize Theron blew up the office with her hit film Atomic Blonde. (See what i did there?) Being a child of the 80s the film and design has resonated with me the most. Everything from the styling of the main character, to colors and type treatments, to the music choice in the first online trailers, captured the feeling of the 80s. Even before I knew the setting of the movie is in Berlin 1989, I was already drawn in by the nostalgia created by the marketing materials.

From the first time I saw the theatrical poster, I was immediately pulled in. The neon colors, the graffiti background and the styling of the typeface resonated with me. My interest was piqued before I even knew what the film was about. This in term made me checkout the online trailer. The music selected immediately brought me back to my love for 80s action films. I must have watched the trailer 4 times in a row, each time getting more and more hyped for the film, but also enjoying the emotional high that it created. And then at the end of the trailer: then animation of the film title. The graffiti paint. The neon lights. I was hooked.

The marketing materials for Atomic Blonde did what nostalgia marketing is supposed to do: invoke positive memories and gained my trust in the brand. Even without knowing anything about the film, I was ready to purchase tickets, download the soundtrack, recommend it to friends, whatever, as long as I got to be a part of this marketing experience. Well played Ms. Theron and team. Well played.

Greased Lighting in a Bottle

Miley Cyrus Younger Now

Miley Cyrus Younger Now

Ok so not technically Hollywood but very Hollywood adjacent.

Miley Cyrus has said recently that she is trying to tone done her previous pop image in order to try and appeal to more conservative music listeners. Take one look at her new album cover, and it's clear she's trying to tap into the nostalgia of the 50s. This may not be a bad move as many Repuplicans fondly remember the 50s as a time when the economy (and babies) were booming, men still wore suits to work, the U.S. wasn't at war, and family values were strong. I mean if you were a heterosexual, white male, it was a good time to be alive (said with much sarcasm).

However, Ms. Cyrus isn't necessarily tapping into the wholesome, poodle skirt, soda shop vibe of the 50s. The leather jacket and pants combined with the shot of her from behind, and her greaser hair styling harken more to the sexy vibe reminiscent of films like Grease and Rebel Without a Cause. Still the sex is toned down when compared with her previous work.

The vibrant colors give a sense of youthfulness, while still managing to feel vintage. The detailing on the outfit is reminiscent of early country music costumes (think rhinestone cowboy). The handling of the album begs to be compared with the logo treatment for Grease.

Overall, Miley Cyrus is hitting all the right nostalgia notes.

Big Reels Keep on Turning

Proud Mary promotional art

Proud Mary promotional art

This next entry decides to not even try and be subtle in its use of nostalgia marketing. The film: Proud Mary starring Taraji P. Henson. Bam, right off the bat they hit you with that title. The film takes it's name from the iconic Tina Turner cover of the 70's. A fact made more obvious once you watch the movie's trailer.

Then there's the movie poster. The silhouette of the femme fatale, surrounded by hues of orange and gold, while piercing through the delicate font curls from the film title. You can't help but look at it and think of the iconic Pam Grier in Foxy Brown.

After seeing this design, you better believe I was strolling to Proud Mary on my work commute.

So of course I'm thinking, "Ok this is going to be a kickass superheroine adventure set against the backdrop of the 70s." Well not entirely. After reading more about the film's synopsis, turns out this film takes place in modern day.

That's right. This sleek and sexy nostalgia marketing lured me in with it's 70s inspired promise, and didn't even have the decency to buy me popcorn first. But hey if Taraji P. Henson is the lead, how can I refuse?

August 15, 2017No Comments

When Wonder Woman is Your Canvas

Since Facebook launched it's Canvas Ad unit, it's been interesting to see how designers adapt to the medium. Like any new marketing channel, there's a bit of a learning curve. Testing things here. Tweaking things there. A lot of trial error goes on before hitting the design sweet spot. And let me tell you, I've seen quite a few Canvas ads that are still looking for that sweet spot.

Recently I came across a Canvas ad promoting the release of the Wonder Woman movie on Blu-ray.

I fell in love. This is by far one of the best uses of the format I've seen to date. Let me tell you why.

Some VV for WW Canvas

The Wonder Woman Canvas ad makes use of vertical videos throughout its layout. It opens with a beautifully paced overview video of the film that ends with a call-to-action to continue scrolling to learn more about Diana's journey. As you move through the timeline, you discover additional videos interjected at perfect break points.

I stress the use of vertical video here, because it works so well with the mobile user experience. And it's really starting to pick up. As new ad units that focus on the mobile user experience continue to develop (think Instagram videos), brands must create content designed FOR the space. In an ad unit like Canvas, that extra effort pays off.

Embracing the Scroll

Even though the Canvas ad unit is designed solely for the mobile experience, I've seen several examples that still seem to be scared of the vertical scroll. Either elements or stacked tightly together, eliminating the need to scroll, or the designer hasn't taken into account where the breakpoints on a mobile device are.

The Wonder Woman Canvas ad does not make these mistakes. Attention to detail and user experience radiates throughout the design. Screen break points fall where you expect them to. "Journey" elements are just the right size with ample breathing room. Everything about it says "hey we thought about the environment the user is interacting in."

The Brave and the Bold

The designers of this ad clearly took one inspiration from the Wonder Woman film: bold is beautiful.

This design featured two of my favorite trends this year: bold color gradients and texture. And they were used in a way that allowed the design to still feel clean, but deliver the same punch as the film.

A minor nit: I'm not the biggest fan of the text drop shadows used for the "journey" copy.

The Verdict

This year has been good to the comic book Amazon. A blockbuster film and a precision marketing behind it. This ad was the perfect example of what Canvas can do for the mobile experience. It is far and away the best use of the Canvas platform that I've seen to date.

February 4, 2016No Comments

Web design in 8hrs

We've all been there. Client calls with a hot project and needs an immediate turn around. After a few groans, we put on out big kid pants, turn on the coffee and start cranking away. It's all part of the job right?

Recently, I had a client call needing a site design for one of there recently acquired companies. I had just finished designing a logo for them, so I figured a new website was around the corner. What I didn't know was that they would need two design options for a home page and secondary page for a stakeholder presentation, with only 8hrs to turn it around.

Stressful but doable right?

But hold up there's a few curve balls. All you have to go on is a logo, a headline for the home page and the creative direction of "think luxury". There is no content. There is no image direction. There is no style guide. Just design a website. Excuse me while I go to my safe place.

So first things first: start the research. The client provides specialty insurance for a luxury market. I began looking at, what I considered, "specialty retail" sites such as Lloyds of London, Tiffany's, etc. After a little digging I decided on my plan of attack.

Approach 1

For my first approach I decided to go with a darker color palette, high impact imagery to pay off the headline, clean/modular layout, and use of flat icons. I felt the darker colors would add a sense of mystery and luxury. The large header image would help the client to see how they could create high impact on first glance, even if they change the content later. The use of the serif font provided a nice juxtaposition to the sans serif body copy and added a sense of elegance.

Once inside a typical interior page, I used modular sections for easy scalability, and to help with future section additions for other interior pages. The white background of the body area helps give the impression that the user has "opened" the site, once they navigate from the home page.

Vantage Home Option 1

Vantage Home Option 1

Vantage About Option 1

Vantage About Option 1

Approach 2

For my second approach, I wanted a layout that focused on white space and a clean aesthetic, similar to sites like Apple and Tiffany's. I moved away from using two font families, focusing on a simple sans serif font. The navigation was laid out as a more traditional navigation bar, incorporating icons to make if feel more modern. The main image for the banner was cropped so that it mirrored both a spotlight effect, as well as giving a nod to the spire/arch in the Vantage logo. For the bottom article sections, I removed the flat icons in favor of more realistic object based imagery.

The interior page plays up the use of white space, offering a clean, modular layout. The layout reflects the ease of adding sections throughout the page, without having if feel heavy.

Vantage Home Option 2

Vantage Home Option 2

Vantage About Option 2

Vantage About Option 2

So there you have it. Two site design concepts in 8 hours. Overall, the client was happy with the designs and felt that it captured what they were looking for. And I became better acquainted with the office Keurig machine.

January 5, 2016No Comments

6 tips to enhance mobile optimized emails

Email marketing is one of the more successful channels for communicating with consumers. With over 91% of consumers using email at least once a day, and with an average return of $44.25 for every $1 spent on email marketing, it makes sense to target consumers through their digital inbox. But its not enough to just send an email blast out to a targeted list. With over 51% of email opens occurring on a mobile device, it is important to develop mobile optimized emails.

Recently, Jacobs & Clevenger was tasked with improving one of our more successful mobile optimized email templates known as "Service Date." You may be thinking, "If it's already a successful template, why mess with it?" As direct marketers, our goal is to employ different techniques to improve upon the communications we send to our target audience. Below are 6 techniques we used to enhance our "Service Date" mobile optimized email template.

Mobile optimized email test

1.) Design for a similar experience across mobile devices

When designing for a mobile optimized email it is important to think responsive design first. Responsive design allows the layout of your email to be flexible and scalable, so that it can adapt to different screen sizes across devices. While our previous "Service Date" email was responsive, it's layout was based on a 2-column format. In order to improve upon the layout the design was changed from a 2-column to a 1-column format. The 1-column format was selected to offer a more consistent experience between desktop and mobile devices. This layout also allows the design to restructure the hierarchy of information to fit with how most online content is read, which is from top to bottom. Changing the layout also provided a fresh look for audience members who had seen the previous template.

2.) Let the subject line work hand-in-hand with the preheader

Whether viewing an email on a desktop or mobile device, the subject line and preheader are the first elements your audience sees in their preview pane. It is important that these elements work together to give the viewer a quick overview and entice them to open the email. While this might seem like one of the more obvious email techniques, often times it goes overlooked. For example, if the "View as..." copy is placed above the preheader, it will display in the preview pane first, disrupting the subject line/preheader flow. Another example would be omitting a preheader altogether, and having an image as the first element in the content of the email. The alt tag for the image will appear after the subject line in the preview pane, which can cause a disconnect in messaging. In order to enhance the "Service Date" email template, the subject line and preheader were written in a supporting manner to provide a sense of legitimacy and urgency.

3.) Get personal with your audience

Personalization is a key tactic for enhancing mobile optimized emails. According to a study by the Aberdeen Group, personalized emails improve click-through rates by an average of 14% and coversion rates by 10%. Personalization tells your audience that you have a prior relationship with them. It also allows your email communication to stand out from the myriad of emails floating in a person's inbox. For the "Service Date" email revamp, personalization played a key role in shaping the content. Utilizing the data we had on our audience, we were able to customize multiple fields including such as name, vehicle make, vehicle model, model year and VIN in the subject line, preheader and body copy.

4.) Keep the content simple and scannable

Relevant content is key for any communication channel. However, sometimes there is a tendency to cram as much content as possible into an email communication. Instead of relying on the email to do all the heavy lifting for a campaign, streamline content to focus on the key objective of the email. Whether it's getting your audience to click through to a landing page or to call a phone number, craft your content so that it is clear to the audience what you want them to do.

In the revised "Service Date" creative, content was streamlined to focus on the offer and the timeliness of needed action from the audience. This allowed the email to play it's intended role in the campaign, which was to drive viewers to the landing page to purchase and learn more about the product. This also plays to the strengths of mobile optimized emails by having less content for the user to scroll through before taking action.

5.) Allow the audience a comfortable level of commitment

At times it can be tricky to get your audience to commit to a course of action. You want to be direct with the action you want them to take, but some viewers may not be ready to take that step. Offering up a hard and soft commitment option can help ease users into taking the action.

The main goal of the "Service Date" email is to drive users to a product landing page to purchase. In order to enhance click-through response we incorporated an "Update now" button along with a "Learn more" text link. Both call-to-actions took the user to the product landing page. This allowed the audience a choice of the level of commitment they were willing to engage with.

6.) Use relevancy to increase engagement

In direct marketing, relevancy is key to driving engagement. Would you act on an offer for discounted Christmas lights in June? More than likely the answer is "No." In order to enhance the relevancy for the "Service Date" template, emphasis was placed on the number of years it had been since the customer had updated their navigation system. Showing the customer the amount of time that had passed since an update helped add weight to the fact that their status was "overdue."

So how did these techniques enhance our revised "Service Date" mobile optimized email template? The new template outperformed the older control template with:

  • a 34% higher open rate than the control
  • an 85% higher click-through rate than the control
  • a 38% higher click-to-open rate than the control
  • 118% more clicks on the “Update now” button than the control

As you can see even if a mobile optimized email is performing well, it pays to continually find ways to enhance upon your success.

February 24, 2015No Comments

2015 digital marketing conference picks

To be a graphic designer in the digital marketing arena, is to be in an industry of constant change. New technologies, new trends and new ways of communication are constantly introduced. In order to stay relevant, it is important to keep your skills and knowledge up to date. One of my favorite ways of doing this is by attending digital marketing conferences. In my experience, digital marketing conferences are a much more engaging, and many times a more cost-effective, way to continue design and marketing education. Digital marketing conferences offer other benefits such as:

  • Discussing common issues in your field
  • Learning new skills and techniques
  • Growing your network of peers to enhance your professional knowledge base
  • Discovering new technologies
  • Getting out from behind your computer screen and engaging in social interaction
  • Rekindling your passion for design and marketing

There are dozens of digital marketing conferences offered every year. While I would like to attend as many as possible, unfortunately a little thing called a job gets in the way. Were time and money not an obstacle, I would attend the following digital marketing conference in 2015.

Summit. The Digital Marketing Conference

When: March 9-13, 2015
Where: Salt Lake City, Utah
Summary: Reinvention is a journey. Continue yours at Summit. The digital landscape is changing and marketers need to reinvent themselves and their strategies to succeed. Join over 5,000 marketing leaders at Adobe Summit to explore the latest trends, ideas, and best practices for getting better results from your digital experiences.

Click Z Live New York

When: March 30-April 1, 2015
Where: New York, New York
Summary: With over 15 years of experience delivering the most cutting edge digital marketing events around the world, ClickZ Live (formerly SES Conference & Expo) provides an unrivalled forum to hear from world-renowned speakers as they deliver an action packed, educationally focused agenda on the latest digital marketing tips, tricks and tools that will blow your mind, make you re-think your strategy and provide actionable takeaways to revolutionize your marketing campaign.

An Event Apart

When: May 11-13, 2015
Where: Boston, Massachusetts
Summary: The design conference for people who make websites. An Event Apart Boston is an intensely educational learning session for passionate practitioners of standards-based web design. If you care about code as well as content, usability as well as design, An Event Apart is the conference you’ve been waiting for.

SmashingConf New York 2015

When: June 15-18, 2015
Where: New York, New York
Summary: After the great success of last year’s New York conference, we’re bringing the SmashingConf back to the Big Apple. The rules haven’t changed: “2 days, one track, 18 brilliant speakers, and hands-on, practical and useful talks.” As always we have phenomenal speakers lined up.

Inbound 2015

When: September 8-11, 2015
Where: Boston, Massachusetts
Summary: INBOUND fuels the passion that drives the most innovative and successful business leaders of our time. INBOUND's purpose is to provide the inspiration, education, and connections you need to transform your business. This September, we will host thousands of marketing and sales professionals from almost every industry imaginable and from all corners of the globe at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. In 2014, we had 10,000+ attendees from all around the world and we're excited to be bigger than ever this year.

February 19, 20151 Comment

How GetResponse stole my email marketing ♥

Another Valentine's Day has come and gone, and with it the multitude of often-times tacky email marketing that clutters my inbox. Don't get me wrong, as a digital designer I love email marketing. But I tend to be underwhelmed by the quality of email communications that come out during the holiday season. You know the ones I'm talking about. I call them "throw-away season emails." These are the emails that:

  • Use the same content that they use any other day of the year, but integrate the name of the holiday
  • Add on some poorly chosen stock photo typical to that holiday
  • Do not include a special offer relevant to the season
  • Send an offer irrelevant to me but pertains to the holiday (i.e. "Get her a Valentine's gift with 25% off women's apparel." Reality, I'm not in the "girlfriend" market.)

But I digress. For every 10 bad seasonal email marketing campaigns out there, I believe there has to be at least one company that's getting it right. This Valentine's Day, GetResponse was the company that got it right for me.

Anatomy of a successful email marketing campaign

GetResponse Valentine"s Day email Click to see HTML version.

For me this email just get's everything right. Besides being designed responsively, it hits on 5 key areas that i believe are important.

  1. The subject line uses symbols as a nod to the holiday season. I think symbols in subject lines are great. So far they are supported by most email clients (except Outlook 2003), and they are an effective way of standing out in the inbox clutter. Symbols can also help keep the subject line concise, allowing more copy to be present in mobile preview panes.
  2. The subject line and preheader work together. Good email marketing takes advantage of the preheader area and uses messaging that supports the subject line. In this example the preheader reinforces the offer, while providing additional detail.
  3. Use of typography over large graphics. A big trend in digital design right now is using large graphics in the header area of websites and emails. GetResponse chose to go a different route using simple icons and nice typography. This helps to increase the overall download speed of the email, as well as drawing focus to the email offer.
  4. Bulletproof buttons. If you're not using bullet proof buttons in your email, start looking into it. Bulletproof buttons, don't rely on images. Instead they use simple shapes, colors, borders and text. This means you no longer have to worry about whether your audience has their images disabled for them to see the button and take action.
  5. Adding an animated GIF to create a sense of urgency. Years ago if someone had suggested using animated GIFs in emails, you would have looked at them like they had two heads. Today though, more and more email clients are providing support for GIF animation. GetResponse use of an animated GIF to add a sense of urgency to their message is a great example of how GIFs can offer value to your email campaign.

And there you have it folks. That's how GetResponse swooped in this Valentine season and stole my email marketing heart. Next year I hope they bring flowers.

December 18, 20141 Comment

A Dunny holiday with the creative team

Every agency has their own way of celebrating the close of a successful year. Some agencies have a holiday dinner. Other agencies take the team bowling. This year the creative team at Jacobs & Clevenger decided to do something a little different. This year we decided to create alter egos to share at our creative lunch. Here's how it all went down:

  1. Everyone draws an unmarked box containing a Dunny figure.
  2. Open the box in private to see which Dunny figure you received.
  3. Create an alter ego for your Dunny figure.
  4. Come up with a backstory for your alter ego to display at the creative lunch using any medium you want.
  5. Don't share which Dunny you picked until the creative lunch.

As team building exercises for creative types go, this was one of the most original concepts I had ever been part of.

Creating El Guapo

Over the next few weeks, I began developing out the backstory of my Dunny alter ego. I decided to name him El Guapo, the Design Vigilante. El Guapo is part of the millenial generation, and as such uses social media to convey his thoughts on design and marketing. To further develop El Guapo, I created a website (, a Twitter handle (@designvigilante) and a Vine channel to help bring him to interactive life.

Usually for a project like this, I would wait til the day of the presentation and just make up some off the cuff story. But this time I was really inspired by my Dunny. The more time I spent creating his back story, the further i wanted to take it. It also got me very curious to see how other members of the team would present their alter ego.

The alter egos revealed

After a few weeks of preparation, the day of the creative team holiday lunch arrived. As I looked around the table, it was clear that some of my colleagues were as excited as I was to reveal their alter ego. A few looked like they might want to crawl under the table though. Thankfully we started off with some appetizers and a round of liquid courage to ease everyone into the Dunny presentation.

Randy Dunny Alter Ego Illustration

One by one the creative team revealed their alter egos. The mediums used were all different and original. Presentations ranged from using sign language with a haiku, to creating a storyboard about how their Dunny inspired the creation of Daft Punk. One person illustrated coloring book handouts for the group, while another team member sang the Frito Bandito song.

The most ironic thing, though, was how many of the Dunny's actually matched the personality of the person who picked it. Remember, this was a random drawing where you didn't know which Dunny you received until you opened the box. This activity allowed everyone to really relax and let their non-work-focused personalities come through.

Saying goodbye to 2014

After our alter ego unveiling it was time for the most important part of the outing: ordering food. The rest of the time was spent reminiscing about the highs and lows of the year, and talking about what we hoped to achieve as a group in 2015. And of course ordering another round to toast our successes.

Here's to hoping you had as much fun with your team as I did mine this holiday season. See you all in 2015!

December 15, 2014No Comments

5 digital marketing trends for 2015

As 2014 draws to a close, businesses begin to evaluate their marketing plan for the coming year and which agencies are best suited to help them achieve their goals. With technology continuously changing at the speed of light, agencies that know how to traverse the digital landscape will be standing in the forefront of 2015. As with every new year there will undoubtedly come a wave of fads and trends for the marketing community. Below are a list of 5 digital marketing trends to watch out for in 2015.

Content marketing 2.0

For the past few years agencies have been telling their clients to get on board with content marketing. Content marketing has become a channel most businesses know they need to invest in. In fact a recent survey found that 83% of B2B marketers use content marketing. The problem though is that many businesses don't have a documented content marketing strategy. In 2015, content marketing will evolve to focus on areas such as:

  • A documented strategy with content marketing as a sustainable and measurable channel
  • Attention to ROI
  • Integration of content marketing through all channels
  • How to distribute content efficiently and more importantly economically
  • Looking holistically at the digital experience of distributed content, as well as incorporating more supporting videos, graphics and images

Think mobile first

One area in digital marketing that continues to grow year after year is mobile. Businesses can no longer ignore the mobile market place. With over 61% of adults in the United State owning a smartphone, businesses have to think mobile first in order to remain competitive. Mobile versions of websites are being replaced by responsive websites or mobile apps. Mobile open rates for email have grown 180% in last three years. If you're not creating mobile optimized emails, you're not offering an optimized experience for your target audience to engage with.

Evolution of data in digital marketing

More and more consumers expect brands to know who they are when communicating with them. And digital marketers know this. In fact, 78% of marketers today believe that data-driven marketing via digital channels is the path to new growth. However, it's not enough to just put a person's first name in the salutation of an email. This practice has become so standard that it provides little differentiation from a form letter. Expect to see an evolution in digital marketing of how both quantitative and qualitative data is used to provide a more customizable and personalized experience for a targeted audience. Think triggered emails with customized content based on a users previous behavior. Or driving your audience to PURLs with variable information based on where they are in the purchase cycle. Collecting data and using it in a relevant, targeted, personalized way will allow marketers to stay competitive in the digital environment.

Meet your Marketing Technologist

In order to be nimble in the ever-changing digital marketing environment, it is important to have people on your marketing team who understand digital technology. In 2015, expect to see the title "Digital Technologist" pop up. These people are not just thinking about digital marketing. They understand the technologies that are out there to make digital marketing effective. These individuals know about the latest mobile device view port standards, are up to date on banner ad guidelines for social media and mobile, and are testing out the latest IOS before you get your first cup of coffee. Competitive agencies will incorporate these people seamlessly into their marketing teams.

Video steps up relevancy to content marketing

Video is still one of the most effective ways to reach an audience and create engagement with a brand. Currently YouTube receives more than 1 billion unique visitors a month. Thanks to HTML5 video players, Vine, Vimeo and YouTube, it's never been easier to access video across both mobile and desktop devices. Expect digital marketers to experiment with ways to incorporate video into their content marketing efforts to increase visibility, as well as, provide context around content.

In a nutshell, exciting things will be happening with digital marketing in 2015. Are you prepared for 2015? What digital marketing trends/fads do you think will develop in the coming year?

December 1, 2014No Comments

26 years later we are still living with HIV

Since 1988, December 1st has been observed as World AIDS Day. On this day, communities and organizations make a concerted effort to bring awareness to the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. December 1st is also a day to remember all of those we have lost in the battle against HIV/AIDS and celebrate the advances made against the virus.

Millions of dollars have gone towards research for finding a cure or vaccine for HIV/AIDS. Programs have been launched around the country to educate people on safe sex practices. Rapid HIV tests have been developed to make testing easier and more accurate. New drugs, such as Truvada PrEP, are either on the market or in development to help prevent HIV transmission. With all of these advances, the HIV landscape of 2014 looks quite different than it did 26 years ago. But the battle is not over. With new HIV infections and AIDS diagnoses still on the rise, we must continue to work towards an AIDS free generation. Here's how you can make a difference.

Get tested

Make it a point to know your status and get tested at least once a year. If you're negative, you can continue to learn ways to remain negative. If you're positive, you can find resources and support. Don't know where to get tested? Visit to find a testing site near you.

Educate yourself

Knowledge is one of the best weapons we have against HIV/AIDS, and we've learned a lot about HIV in the past 26 years. For example, did you know that there is less of a risk of HIV transmission with someone who is HIV positive with an undetectable viral load and on medication than someone who is recently diagnosed with HIV? Do you know that Truvada PrEP can reduce the risk of HIV transmission by 94% when taken consistently? Keep up-to-date on developments and news about HIV/AIDS and take control of your sex life by making informed decisions.

End stigma

There is still a lot of stigma around people who test positive for HIV. Describing positive people using words such as dirty, damaged, irresponsible, worthless, slutty, etc. diminishes the person as unequal to their HIV negative counterparts. Positive or negative, we are all living with HIV and are all HIV equal. It is important to think about the words we use when talking about HIV so that we can remove the stigma around it. Want to get involved with ending the stigma online? Join the #WeAreAllClean campaign to raise money for amfAR and Housing Works and end the use of the word "clean" to describe HIV negative people. You can also join Prince Harry in his #FeelNoShame campaign. In support of children in Lesotho who feel too ashamed to tell anyone they have HIV, this World AIDS Day is a day that no one feels any shame about their secrets.

Get involved

This year's World AIDS Day theme is "Getting to Zero." This means zero new infections, zero AIDS-related deaths, and zero discrimination. But we can only get to this goal if we all work together. There are many ways to get involved this World AIDS day. In Chicago, you can volunteer your time with local organizations such as TPAN, Center on Halsted, Howard Brown and DIFFA to name a few.

If you don't have time to volunteer but love to shop, below is a list of retailers who are donating part of their proceeds to the fight against HIV/AIDS today.

Or just do the steps above and be the difference in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Share your experience and story with others and raise awareness with those around you. Together we can achieve an AIDS free generation.

Let's connect.

© Justin Herren 2022 | Creative strategist + design lead