Check out our blog for industry related posts focused on helping you achieve your advertising and communication goals.

The Best 2023 Super Bowl Ads


Last night, Rihanna took to the stage for an instantly iconic performance/baby announcement and advertisers flocked to the occasion to capture millions of eyeballs with their most creative and star-studded spots. Also, there was some football. It was truly an unforgettable night any way you look at it, but since this is a marketing blog and not a Rihanna stan account (unfortunately) we will look at the ads. 


Best Use of Nostalgia: Clueless, RakutenI may be biased because Clueless is one of my favorite movies, but this reboot was pitch-perfect. Plus, it made sense for the brand. Who better to promote a site that offers cash back for shopping than the queen of shopping herself, Cher Horowitz?


Best Story: Jack’s New Angle: DoritosThis spot had it all; an inciting incident, a climax and a twist ending featuring a surprise celebrity cameo. Are the nominations still open for best short film?!

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Top Video Marketing Trends for 2023


First video came for the radio stars and now its coming for your marketing plan. Just kidding! It’s already here. The rise of social media platforms like Snapchat and TikTok continues to alter the marketing landscape – even if you don’t choose to promote your brand on these Gen Z-skewed platforms. The proliferation of videos from these newcomers has filtered down to Facebook and Instagram and has users primed to respond to video content and, more importantly, is being favored by the all-powerful algorithms.

We’ve established that video is a must for your digital marketing plans, in fact, you’re probably already creating video content and are ready to stop reading and move on with your day. DON’T! Yes, video has been around for a while, but the landscape is everchanging and what worked last year might already be dated.

Read on for the top video trends for 2023!

Flip Phones

You need to meet your audience where they are, which is on their phone. Recent studies found that 99% or 4.43 billion social media users access networks using a mobile device and 78% or 2.97 billion users access networks exclusively on their mobile phone. Every platform now features vertical video, from Instagram reels to YouTube shorts to Snapchat and TikTok. If you want to create compelling video, the first step is rotating that camera.

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Budding Designers


A few months ago, I was asked to judge a design competition for local high school students studying graphic design. I saw this as a great opportunity to see the talents of young future designers and offer professional guidance.

Twenty-nine eager students from several area high schools were given a choice from five actual “business clients” seeking either a business card, social media post, or an app design. The students had two months to design a final product that accurately represented their chosen client. With the help of the judges and their teachers, the students were guided through the design process to gain real-world knowledge of a career as a graphic designer.

The first stage of the competition taught the students to hand sketch their design concept. All too often we, as designers, get caught up in a “I need it now” world and begin the concepting stage at the computer. However, I was instructed early in my career that there are no limitations in creativity from the hands. Whereas when using a computer, my limit is restricted by fonts, flow, and freedom (the 3 Fs).

After the students received constructive criticism from the judges, they took that advice with them to the next stage: digital. They “tightened up” their designs and translated them into a digital design more appealing to the eye.

After the judges reviewed the digital design, the next step was execution. During this stage the students made final adjustments and submitted their final design for evaluation. The judges chose the top 10 designs based on creativity and following guidance and direction.  Students received awards in 4 categories: Typography, Vision, Illustration, Progress and Design.

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Does This Match?


My wife, a high school educator, was picking out her outfit for the next day’s work. She brought me the outfit she was putting together and asked me, “Does this match?” Instead of the traditional husband answer of “yes” (always the safest one), my answer was a typical answer of a graphic designer. I provided a detailed explanation that utilized my background in design to describe my reasoning of why the colors of her outfit don’t match. Amazingly enough, after my thorough explanation of color theory, she thanked me. She still asks me occasionally for advice on her outfits but not as much. I think she is either afraid of a long-winded response or figuring it out on her own.

Whether it be with patterns or colors, everybody utilizes matching skills in everyday life. So, is there a right way to match or is it by personal choice? My answer is a simple “YES”. It is both a personal choice and a correct way combined. For example: when designing for a client, one of the many questions to ask is a color preference. They may not prefer certain colors because it is used by a competitor or just a color they never liked. It is the task of a graphic designer to make the client’s choices of colors work whether they are compatible or not.

One choice of compatibility might be warm colors (reds, yellows, oranges, etc.) together or cool colors (greens, blues, purples, etc.), mostly because they share a common mix of colors. The use of a color wheel can be very helpful in the process. It will show those compatibilities using primary and secondary colors. Once you have your colors figured out, try using variations of them. Instead of green use a lime green, instead of red try a burgundy for a richer look.

Once the color choices have been made, your next variable relies on your audience. What is your client’s focus group? Is it moms, young children, teens, or elderly? If you decide on red, yellow, or orange, the primary bright versions may work for the young crowd but for parents or a slightly older audience, richer colors are ideal. Such as a deeper red like a burgundy, or a deeper version of yellow like ochre or a brighter rust for orange. For the elderly, perhaps choose a toned down or muted version of those colors to create a peaceful aesthetic.

So does it match? Ask the client and if they are unsure, make subtle suggestions and comparisons. Some may think they know; some may need a little push in the right direction and others may claim defeat and ask the expert (you) for advice.

How to Create Your Own Publicity


As that great ad man Don Draper once said, “if you don’t like what's being said, change the conversation.” Tweaked for public relations, “if you don’t have anything newsworthy – make it.” Now, we’re not suggesting you pull a Peggy Olson and pay people to fight over your product in store to generate publicity, but public relations is often less about waiting for something newsworthy to happen with your company and more about creating something newsworthy to gain media attention.

A few (non-shady) ways to generate good PR:

Hold a Contest

Find something related to your brand and ask your followers to make a video/paint a picture/write a song about it and then pick a winner! You’ll get the media mentions promoting the contest as well as the follow-up once you award your winner. Pro-tip, the more deserving your pool of contestants - i.e., teachers, nurses, volunteers - the more media coverage you’ll attract. Recently, we held a contest for our client Yowie to award a local teacher $1000 for their classroom and Yowie chocolate for the whole school! We secured two interviews for the Yowie CMO leading up to the contest and coverage of the award presentation!

Give a Gift

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Where on the Web is Your Site?


How far do you travel when you search online? The third page? The second? Or do you only look at the top five results?

Imagine if your website was on the 30th or even the 15th page of Google or Bing. It would rarely, if ever, see traffic. This is where SEO comes in. Sprinkle keywords strategically throughout your site (and create landing pages on the backend) and traffic to your website will increase! Keep reading for more tips and tricks to improve your site’s SEO!

Let’s Break it Down!

SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” Essentially, you place keywords or phrases throughout your website to improve your website’s visibility when people search for products or services that are related to your company to drive organic traffic. The tactfully placed words or phrases notify search engines’ algorithms that your page belongs in a search query.

By focusing on improving your website’s SEO, your site will rank higher in search engines. The higher it’s ranked, the more often people will come across your company. The more people who come across your company, the more ROI you will have. You can’t earn revenue or gain new customers if prospective customers can’t find you online. Over 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine!

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Find Me!


Doesn’t it pique your curiosity? Where is it going to take you? We know them as QR codes or Quick Response Codes, those funny patterned squares used to lead the viewer to a website, social media page or even a menu at a restaurant. It’s free, convenient, and easy, mostly because the majority of the world’s population has the ability to use them with their cell phones.

When they were first introduced an app on your phone needed to be downloaded. Eventually, as they became more popular the app became obsolete and the camera on your phone could capture them and take you to the online destination.

So, how does a QR code work?

The large corner squares tell your device it’s a QR Code and all the little squares (or dots if you prefer) are 3-digit binary codes of each part of the URL you want to link to. For example one small portion will read as Code 000, another 001 then 010 and so on.

Anyone can create one by logging on to sites like: and placing the URL of your choice in the space needed. The URL can be from anything found on the internet: favorite video clip on social media, your Etsy craft shop,  a favorite restaurant, website, email, even your phone number! But wait there’s more!

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How to Keep Your Organization’s Social Media Relevant and Fun


Social media is a great way to advertise your business and with 1.86 billion active users a month on Facebook alone, it’s no longer optional, but essential. However, if you’ve fallen into the rut of simply pushing out posts about your products or services, you’re doing social media wrong.

The beauty of social media is that it allows you to interact and engage with your audience while showing off your brand’s personality. Posts show up in the same place where people get daily updates from friends and family. Keeping your social media content conversational will help customers see you as personable and engender deeper brand loyalty. Keeping a consistent voice for your brand is important. Here are a few ways to inject your feed with a little joy while still staying on message!

Get “Real” in Stories: Most of the time, companies fall into a routine with their social media marketing because they find it overwhelming. From new platforms to new features, it can feel impossible to keep up with current trends. But you don’t need to become a TikTok star to have some fun. Leverage stories (on Instagram and/or Facebook) to show quick, behind-the-scenes looks at your company culture. Have a fun snack at your staff meeting? Throw it into your story. Get a shipment of a cool new product? Film an unboxing. The best part is that stories are only visible for 24 hours, so it removes the pressure of the post needing to “look right” or fit in with your overall feed. Once you loosen your expectations, you open yourself up to creativity!Make a Day of It: It may seem annoying that every little thing gets its own day, but for social media content creation, it’s a godsend. Looking up a list of national days at the beginning of each month is a super simple way to plan out some easy, light content. Find a day that fits in with your brand and the post practically writes itself. Check out this post KMK created for Butitta Brothers in honor of Rocky Road Day for proof of how easy content creation can be.Flex Your Funny Bone: It may or may not be true that the internet was created for the sole purpose of sharing funny memes. And even if that’s not true, it’s still a popular activity. Get in on the action with some memes that relate to your industry. You can search for pre-made memes (just be sure to credit the creator) or you can create your own. Creating a meme is as easy as finding a popular celebrity photo and adding your own text. Check out the Girlboss feed for a masterclass.Put a Ring on It (AKA Engage): Social media is the best chance to speak directly to your customers. So treat it like an actual conversation and respond! If someone takes the time to comment on your post, reply. Not only will more comments boost your post’s visibility, but the more you act like a human being, the more your customers will think of you like one and treat you accordingly. And you don’t need to wait for someone else to make the first move. Go ahead and follow your followers, engage with their content and see if they return the favor (they probably will). Doing so results in wins all around and the forging of a loyal bond. And people buy from people and companies they like and can relate to.

The bottom line is, although most companies view social media as a vital marketing tool (which it is), don’t forget it started as a means to socialize. Do you want to be the boring person at the party who can only talk about work? Of course not. So, have some fun! 

Digital Marketing is Taking Over the World, And We Have the Stats to Prove It

istockphoto-1342372998-612x612 2022 Digital trend image of woman on laptop

The digital world is the new norm and how it evolves affects everyone in various ways, especially businesses. Over the past year, Hootsuite and We Are Social compiled an overview called the “Digital 2022 Global Overview Report,” detailing all things digital including social media, search engines, e-commerce, online ads, and more. This “must-know data” is key to what agencies like ours interpret and use in giving our clients the best digital strategies to fit their needs and target audience.

Intrigued about key digital takeaways over the past year? Here’s a snapshot of what you need to know:

The continued rise in social media users: Social media users have risen 10.1% over the last year. There are now 4.62 billion people using social media around the world. With the increase in social media users skyrocketing year after year, it is important for your business to use the right platform to reach its audience. Your audience is there, and your competitors are there, too.

The continued rise in social media advertising: In 2021, the global social media advertising spending (USD) was $154 billion, which is $23 billion more than it was in 2020. One-third (33.1%) came from Facebook. Facebook is currently the world’s most used social platform. Features like Ad Manager make advertising on social media reliable and trackable. Despite tightening marketing budgets in the face of the pandemic, businesses continued to put more money into social media ads. More than half of the 18,100 marketers who contributed to the social trends 2022 report said they’re planning to increase their paid spending in 2022.

Results driven by an analytical overview show that brand awareness on Facebook greatly impacts a company’s ROI. Therefore, it may be time to put your company’s Facebook to use and begin paid ads.

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8 Elements of a Modern Website


Twenty years ago, it wasn’t unheard of for a business to exist (and even succeed) without an online presence. The ubiquitous nature of the internet has made that very untrue today and in 2022, having an outdated website is almost as bad as having no website at all. If you grudgingly created a website in 2002 and haven’t updated the style since this blog is for you.

White Space/Minimalism

With modern websites, less is more. A minimalistic design puts the spotlight on your product or message and looks clean and professional. The easiest way to incorporate that design into your website is by using white space to visually organize your elements like images, content and calls to action. Pro tip: white space doesn’t need to be white! Any color can be used to create some breathing room on your site.

Scroll Effects

Scroll effects are an easy way to make your content interactive. They include:

Parallax Scrolling – The background changes as you scroll.Scroll-Triggered Animations – animations pop up as you scroll, but everything else stays the same.Horizontal Scrolling – Your pages move right and left rather than up and down.Infinite Scrolling – Your page scrolls in a loop so when you reach the bottom you’re starting at the top again.Bold Colors

Ensure your website color scheme matches your brand's tone but keep it bold to grab attention and make your brand instantly recognizable.

Large Typography

Who needs pictures when you can make your content look like art? Pick a unique (but still easy to read) font that will become instantly recognizable as your brand and make your name the focal point of your homepage!

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Three Ways Students Can Improve a School’s Social Media Presence

Students on cell phones


There’s no doubt that social media is where the majority of students spend their free time. So why not put their passion for the digital world to use? Fortunately, a platform called Class Intercom has created a way for students to create compelling content and safely share it to help promote their school on social media. This platform’s goal is to provide schools with solutions to engage students in social media creation, create a curriculum, and open communication. 

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Top Tips for a Good Interview


The office doorbell rang, and I answered the door. It was a young college student (aren’t they all young?) applying for a summer website internship position. He introduced himself in a calm matter and I offered him a seat while I informed my boss of his arrival. I admired him for his calmness and for the many meetings he will have in the future. Being interviewed can be scary and if you are unaware of what to do or not to do…read on.

Our company hired this great applicant but some of the others who didn’t make the cut made the mistake of making these DON’T statements:

I don’t handle stress well.I don’t really want to do web development; I want to develop apps.I don’t know what I want to do after graduation.I don’t multi-task well and I procrastinate.

These applicants forgot the simple fact that an internship is still an investment of time for the employer, not just the employee and you work for them, not them for you. An employer wants someone who will do what it takes to get the job done with a smile.

As scary as an interview maybe it is also an opportunity to see if it may be suitable for you. Are the employer and employees a right fit for you or your personality? Is the position what you were expecting? Will it give you a chance to grow? My first interview out of college gave me insight when it began like this:

 “Okay,” the interviewer began. He turned off the lights and turned on a spotlight above me. “Don’t feel nervous,” he said with a bit of seriousness, “We are just going to ask you a few questions.” Then he chuckled a little, turned on the lights and said, “Just kidding. We are trying to lighten the mood a little. You’re fine.” Talk about terrifying.

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Love My Job? Yep! Here’s Why…


The great philosopher Confucius once said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Great words to live by and used as a goal to reach by many.

Do you enjoy what you do every day? Is what you do for a living a career or a job? What’s the difference? Here’s the dictionary’s definition:

Job: a piece of work, especially a specific task done as part of the routine of one's occupation or for an agreed price.

Career: success in a profession, occupation, etc. often requiring special training, followed as one's lifework.

My mother always told me, “Choose an occupation you will enjoy, not just for the money.” Of course when you are young, it’s always the money first and happiness will follow. (Right?) It took me years to discover the great wisdom of my mother’s words.

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Podcasting 101


Podcasting ­­­­— what was once a niche market has exploded into popular culture in a huge way. In 2022 you likely know at least one person who hosts a podcast. If not, hello! My name is Devin and I host a podcast. And now my point is made.

The same reasons everyone from your neighbor to your mechanic can host a podcast apply to businesses as well – its easy, relatively inexpensive and fun! In fact, when it comes to businesses, podcasts are one of the easiest and most effective marketing tools. From a Forbes article on the benefits of podcasting –

“You can’t demonstrate your credibility without sharing your expertise, and by sharing your expertise you become helpful. You become valuable for your listeners,” explains Stephen Woessner on his podcast Onward Nation, a daily podcast for business owners. “It’s much more likely you can then develop a business relationship from someone in your audience when you’ve established your credibility.”

But where do you start? We have compiled a checklist of everything you need before you jump into the podcasting world. The below is merely a jumping-off point, there are countless options and services when it comes to podcasting, but these are my recommendations for starting out.

Decisions to Make:

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They Want it When?


Sometimes a client requests a printed marketing piece in a “less than average” time frame. Sometimes we can do it and sometimes we can’t. What factors help us make that determination?

Due date: When do you need it in your hands? That triggers a process used by most creative firms to allow each individual on the “production tree” ample time to produce a satisfying end product. In the agency business, this is what’s involved:

Printer (Rush: 3-4 days at a minimum, dependent upon size and quantity):  Select your printer. Ask them how much time they need from time of receipt of the file to final printing and delivery. Confirm the proper dimensions, paper available and any additional needs (folding, perforation, etc.). For rush jobs, they may have to readjust their schedule by pushing other work back to accommodate your timeline and that could result in extra fees.

Copywriting/Editing (Rush: 1-4 days):  The writer needs information from the client for content or direction on how it should be written or what needs to be included. After the content is written, it’s submitted to the client for review and reworked, as needed. Upon approval, the designer receives the copy to flow into the layout. 

Design (Rush: 3-5 days at a minimum):  Is the necessary information ready and provided to the designer: approved copy, photography to be used, desired dimensions and logo or branding information. If in a rush, a designer who has the dimensions and general information can create a basic layout with “dummy” text and photos as fillers for when the real stuff comes in. Designing “on the fly” is challenging and not usually a good idea as the amount of creativity and number of revisions allowed may be sacrificed in the rush to complete the job within the timeframe desired.

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The 10 Best Super Bowl Ads of 2022


Apparently, there was some sort of sports game on the other night…? I wouldn’t know. I was only there for the food, the halftime show and, of course, the commercials. Truly, unless you’re someone who genuinely “likes” football or lives in one of the represented cities, the only thing to look forward to on Super Bowl Sunday are the ads. This year, advertisers chose to largely ignore the upheaval in the NFL and the world at large and focus on funny, star-studded entertainment. Not all the swings were hits, but many were. Here are the top 10 (at least in the opinion of this humble marketing professional).


Rocket Mortgage, “Barbie’s Dream House”

Sometimes you need to laugh to keep from crying. Yes, the housing market is so competitive that even Barbie would struggle to buy her dream house, but through the undeniable charm of Anna Kendrick that ugly truth comes across as fun rather than soul-crushing. Plus, the idea of Barbie living next door to Skeletor? Priceless.


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Three Ways to Better Understand Inclusive Marketing


Inclusive Marketing may sound like the latest industry buzzword, but it’s actually the natural progression of what marketers have known for decades: if you’re trying to reach a particular group you need to appeal to who they are and what they like. Seems simple enough, yet time and again we have seen brands fumble in their delivery. Here are three tips for avoiding the common pitfalls of inclusive marketing.

1. Do Your Homework

The only thing worse than not being inclusive in your marketing is being inclusive in name only, without putting any actual effort into understanding and appealing to your target audience. If you or your team doesn’t have firsthand knowledge of your target customer group your priority should be market research. (It also might be time to look at why no one on your team can speak to certain demographic groups and consider making changes at a company-wide level).

Get to know your customers - what they want and how they want to be represented – before you start marketing to them. Thinking you understand a group without doing the actual work could land you in a PR crisis or worse. Remember when Pepsi tried to capitalize on the Black Lives Matter movement with… Kendall Jenner. Yeah, that did not go well.  Don’t be like Pepsi. Be better.

2. Create Realistic Content

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Seeing It in a Whole New Light

I sat there looking at the illustration I had been working on for some time… upside down. My wife didn’t question me as many of my family members have learned not to. It was a “Dad or Gary thing” or maybe just what artists do. As the saying goes, “The left-handed are in their right minds.” Meaning of course, we use the creative side of our brains (the right side) more often than that of the typical right-handed person.

Why was I looking at my illustration upside down? One family member did dare to ask me once, fearing some eccentric answer. But it was anything but that, at least I think so. I had spent some time working on this piece and still couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it. I had been looking at it for so long I became comfortable with what I was doing. Much like writing. You write it and proof it and proof it again. You can’t find any errors but give it to someone else and they find things that you overlooked because they are a fresh set of eyes seeing it for the first time.

What does the artist do to resolve his problem? First, he turns it upside down. By looking at it in a different way he is seeing it like another person seeing it for the first time. It now becomes a different piece of work and errors are easier to find. Another way to see it differently is to hold it up in a mirror. Looking at the reverse image of what you’ve been staring at for so long, “magnifies” any possible adjustments needed.

So, if you walk into a room of an artist looking at his work upside down, he’s not crazy. He’s just trying to improve his work and if he is sitting and staring at someone else’s work (like I often do) he’s just admiring the talent.

Have a Very-Perri 2022

The “cerulean blue monologue” from The Devil Wears Prada will forever live rent-free in my mind. You know, the one where Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly succinctly reads Anne Hathaway’s Andy Sachs character for scoffing at the “triviality” of fashion while highlighting the countless designers, editors and visionaries it takes for a simple blue sweater to end up in our closet? Excuse me, cerulean. It’s a cinematic masterpiece and the first thing that pops into my head every time Pantone reveals its color of the year.

The process of picking the color of the year sounds very similar to the series of events Miranda Priestly describes; the color experts at Pantone scour runways, artwork and films for a color that will speak to the general mood of the world for the coming year. Then, in the endless circle of influence, the color is picked up by even more designers and tastemakers and even corporate brands to truly become the omnipresent color of the year.

This year, Pantone chose Very-Perri – a vibrant shade of periwinkle – to define 2022. As Pantone explained to Adweek, they started with a blue base  – a perennial favorite – and then added a “red-violet undertone.” “So, you’ve taken your blue, that steadfast color, and added this excitement, this dynamism,” Pantone executive director Leatrice Eiseman explained.

So where will we be seeing Very-Perri in the coming year? Likely, everywhere. From the fashion industry, who pays particular attention to Pantone’s annual choices, to Microsoft, a long-time partner of Pantone, who will incorporate the hue into their products such as PowerPoint and Windows wallpaper.

The great thing about having a universally rallying color is that brands big or small can take advantage of the intel. We might not all have access to the exact shade of Very-Perri – a brand new and exclusive Pantone shade – but we can all feature vivid periwinkle in our ads and products for the year and benefit from the burst of optimism it’s meant to impart.  

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KMK is Getting into the Holiday Spirit!

Here at KMK we’re getting into the holiday spirit by reflecting on our favorite Christmas traditions. Unsurprisingly, many of them include baking and they all include loved ones.

Pam's favorite tradition is baking Christmas cookies with her three kids. "I started baking with them when they were very young and got more dough on the dog and on the floor than they did in the bowl,” she laughed “but now in their teens, they are pretty good bakers!" Her favorite is peanut butter chocolate fudge passed down from her mom.

Gary's fondly remembers his mother's four different homemade shapes of sugar cookies: Santa, tree, star and bell. He explained, "Each of my siblings and I took turns frosting and sprinkling them. They had to be a specific way. Santa's were red with a beard and suit trim, stars were yellow, bells were blue, and trees were green." Lori's family also got in on the baking fun with a weekend long cookie baking extravaganza. She said, "The process may be long, but it is very rewarding in the end." It may have helped that her family owned a bakery where they made her favorite, animal cookie – a sweet bread pastry.

For Lexi, Christmas means ice skating in downtown Chicago. She loves “being in the city and seeing all of the festive lights." And Devin loves her family’s tradition of gift tags that are clues to the gift inside. “I think I look forward to reading my tags (and having my family read the ones I've written) and trying to guess the gift more than actually opening the present on Christmas morning." Shaun's favorite tradition is the Progressive Dinner that sees each member of his family hosting a different course at their house until “finally we go to my parents’ house for dessert."

Even for those of us who don’t count baking among our favorite holiday traditions, we still have nostalgic treats we look forward to every year. From Lexi’s grandmother’s recipe for homemade crescent moon cookies covered in powder sugar to the Sicilian chocolate spice cookies that always remind Devin of family, baking is clearly one of the best parts of the holidays.

Who We Are?

KMK Media Group is a full-service communications firm focused on helping businesses succeed through consistent creative, message and tone.

What We Do

Our services include award-winning design, web development, social media management, video production, public relations, ad campaigns and more!

Where to find us?

716 North Church Street
Rockford, Illinois 61103
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