Since 1979, we've partnered with companies who understand how design can drive culture (inside and out), ideas and sales. We bring together problem solvers, strategic thinkers and conceptual designers to develop compelling brand stories.

EN FUEGO

As the temperature outside cools down, it’s getting hotter here inside the Little office. It’s been a big year at Little, each quarter punctuated by a growing list of new client partnerships.

This year, we’ve added 10 new accounts – the Minnesota Timberwolves, Deluxe, Ecolab, University of St. Thomas School of Law, McKesson, Minnesota Life/Securian, TruStone Financial, Coloplast, Carleton College, and a local packaged goods giant who’ll remain nameless for now

“We’re very excited to welcome new clients to Little as we dive into a host of projects that require the smart, strategic design Little is known for,” said Joe Cecere, president and chief creative officer. “As we work to bring renowned brands to life, nationally and here in the Twin Cities, we’re thrilled to collaborate with savvy companies who share our excitement for building their brands from the inside of the organization out.”

Little’s new client partnerships include:

McKesson Corporation – brand and change strategy

Minnesota Life/Securian – brand and campaign strategy 

Ecolab – internal communications

University of St. Thomas School of Law – brand identity

Minnesota Timberwolves – brand strategy

TruStone Financial – marketing communications

Deluxe – Small Business Services brand refresh

Coloplast – Wound and Skin Care brand refresh

Carleton College – brand identity

JOE SPEAKS

It’s been almost a year since our own Joe Cecere rocked the stage at the sold-out session of the National AIGA conference. Now, you’re invited to see Joe re-create the magic, delivering his “5 Rules for Branding from the Inside Out” live here at the Little office.

Joe will be the featured speaker for the September gathering of the MN chapter of the American Marketing Association. The event will be hosted by Little on September 16, 5:00-7:30 pm. Drinks and light appetizers will be served.

Learn more and register here.

 

LONG STORY SHORT

Everyone loves a good story. Whether it’s to stay informed or be entertained, we’re watching, listening to and reading stories constantly. Some of the most powerful storytelling out there is created by brands. GoPro. Dove. Chipotle. Coca-Cola. At Little, we believe that iconic brands, large and small, reach rock star status through effective storytelling. But how do you tell a story about a brand?

“To start: don’t be boring,” says Joe Cecere, Little’s president and chief creative officer. “The next steps are a little trickier, but if you stay true to your brand’s core principles, you won’t veer off course.”

To craft a brand story that will boost customer loyalty, employee performance and a brand’s prominence, Joe recommends:

1. Focus on the core.

Your brand story should reinforce the brand’s purpose—but what is that purpose? Start by defining your company’s vision, mission and values. Why does the company exist?

2. Keep it simple.

Make the complex simple. Most companies communicate to many audiences—employees, customers, outside partners. If you layer multiple messages on top of each other, people get lost. By connecting the dots and weaving ideas into a story, audiences can make sense of complicated information.

3. Make an emotional connection.

A strong story engages people emotionally, and a strong brand connects to the heart of soul of its audience. It’s how we’re wired—since we were kids, stories have moved us and made us feel a range of emotions. When brands touch people on an emotional level, they form a more powerful and lasting connection.

4. Be consistent.

Different audiences may encounter a brand story through different media, but they should receive the same message. If a CEO and an entry-level employee were asked to describe their company’s values, they should have the same answer. The key points may change, but the core message remains the same.

5. Tell your story often.

Brand storytelling has to be continuous. You can show new employees a welcome video, but if the values articulated in the video aren’t present throughout the company, across every touchpoint, the story won’t stick. Reinforce your company’s values by showing how they come to life every day.

ON THE SIDE by Curt Baker

Side projects are often seen with suspicion. Companies envision their workers frantically minimizing windows as their manager walks by while they build a business on company time.

But what if companies embraced employee side projects – encouraged them, even? Side projects can be an alternative way to promote employee development and life satisfaction with immediate results. In fact, side projects should be openly supported and celebrated by companies—not whispered about in the office kitchen like an infidelity. People making things happen around town are often the people who can make things happen inside the office walls.

This summer, Little co-worker Mike Arney and I created Tap In, a simple guide to the World Cup that was not only known about by Little, but actively supported. Tap In allowed us to create something focused on our shared passion of soccer, and at the same time, boosted the skills of two Little employees at no cost to the agency. Little’s leadership encouraged the project, showed interest in its progress, offered feedback and critique, and supplied some PR muscle locally.

The benefits of side projects are clear—they allow you a space to make mistakes, take risks and expand your skills with a freedom that’s beyond what you’d normally have on a client project. Whether it’s a blog, a craft for Etsy, event series or farmer’s market stand, you have full responsibility for creating a brand, PR strategy and product features. It gives you a chance to not only expand your skills, but employ them on something you’re passionate about. You’re able to take risks and do something you love without the pressure that typically comes with work projects. Research indicates that employees who pursue creative hobbies are rated as more collaborative, helpful and creative at their day jobs.

Side projects should be cheered on, rather than be seen as an unnecessary distraction. Thankfully, at Little, the response is, “What can we do to help?”

FORGET TRUST FALLS, LET’S MAKE SOME ART 

Last week, in search of fresh air and fresh ideas, our creative and production teams took a field trip. We had a few goals—team bonding, creative inspiration and a fun afternoon—and we didn’t think trust falls or happy hour specials were going to cut it. So, we hung up the proverbial “Gone Fishing” sign and headed over to Hamilton Ink Spot to get our hands dirty.

Located in downtown Saint Paul, Hamilton Ink Spot (Formerly Big Table Studio) is a retail and creative space run by Wisconsin-based Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum. When our crew arrived, Hamilton staff had set up stations for us to create whatever we wanted with ink, paper, wood type, dingbats and anything else we could think of. We rolled up our sleeves, laced our aprons, and got to work (or rather, to play), bonding over pizza, beer and a love of making art. Not bad for a Thursday. Consider our batteries recharged.

See more photos from our day here.

MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES TO WORK WITH LITTLE TO REFRESH BRAND EXPERIENCE

 

MINNEAPOLIS — June 9, 2014 — This off-season, in addition to hitting the gym, the Minnesota Timberwolves are revitalizing their brand. Minnesota’s NBA team will bring aboard Little (www.littleco.com), a nationally known branding and design agency that specializes in Branding from the Inside Out, to develop a new brand platform, employee platform and brand identity. Terms of the assignment were not disclosed.

"We are partnering with Little to refresh our brand, for both fans and employees, to enhance the entire Timberwolves experience," says Kristy Badger, VP of Marketing. "Little’s employee engagement work for companies like Target, Lowe’s and Microsoft, plus its successful rebranding efforts, like American Public Media’s ‘Marketplace’ programs, proved very attractive to our organization."

"The Minnesota Timberwolves are a beloved hometown team with an international reach, and we are looking forward to enhancing their brand for fans and employees alike," notes Joe Cecere, Little President and Chief Creative Officer.

Cecere adds, “We will explore new ways for fans to emotionally embrace the team, but also recharge the value proposition for the organization’s employees – helping all to better understand the vision and mission of the team. This paves the way for an enhanced fan experience across all touchpoints.”

 

About Little

Little is a Minneapolis-based design and branding agency specializing in brand strategy, corporate identity, employee engagement and brand experience design. For over 35 years, Little has been helping companies like Target, Microsoft, Wells Fargo, DC Comics, Lowe’s, Sealy, Medtronic and American Public Media tell their whole brand story from the inside out.

Using award-winning creative to drive workforce and customer engagement, marketing and corporate communications, Little’s designs inspire both internal and external audiences, transforming business challenges into brand success stories.

Little boasts a rich philanthropic legacy and is a Nationally Certified Women’s Business Enterprise. It has been named one of Minnesota’s Top Marketers, a 2013 Small Business Success Story and one of the Top 100 Best Places to Work.

For more information — or to interview Joe Cecere about the Minnesota Timberwolves assignment  — please contact Martin Keller, Media Savant Communications, 612-729-8585, mkeller@mediasavantcom.com

INSPIRING LIFELONG READERS WHILE BUILDING A LIFELONG BRAND

You’ve probably heard about it. The Reading Rainbow Kickstarter campaign has been a runaway success – not only meeting its $1 million goal in 8 hours, but nearly doubling it within 36 hours.

It’s not entirely surprising. We’re talking about the delightful coming together of a nostalgic brand’s cult followers, the undeniable cause of early childhood education and literacy, and generations always looking for a worthy (and heartwarming!) cause to support.

That said, this is more than a bunch of people wanting dinner with LeVar Burton or a now-coveted Reading Rainbow tee. This is a hugely, immediately successful combo of branding, fundraising and PR..

First and foremost: early childhood education and literacy strikes a nerve with people. We feel it inside our walls at Little, in our cities and towns, everywhere. Combine that with a bunch of purpose-driven individuals who can still hum the theme song without pause and you’re flying out of the gates. People are looking to support brands that not only provide them value, but also make them feel good about who they’re giving their money to.

Secondly: people still have an undeniable connection with Reading Rainbow. We know the logo. We know the song. We can picture the layout and images of the show in our heads. We intimately know the brand inside and out. Reading Rainbow has stayed true to its purpose – never straying from what they believe and what they know is successful. It makes sense that the masses would look at this opportunity and say, “Heck yeah! Reading Rainbow! I want to offer this to the next generation of readers!”

Plus, this brand connection is seamlessly integrated within the campaign’s promotion. Supporters receive a thank you tweet, making you feel like a valuable part of the cause, but also further promoting the campaign itself. LeVar Burton (or, his staff) will even call you out specifically with a large enough donation.

It’s no surprise that the Kickstarter campaign has been wildly popular. It’s authentic to what Reading Rainbow has always stood for - improving childhood literacy and creating lifelong readers  While not all brands can rely on childhood nostalgia and LeVar Burton’s star power, we think it’s a great example of how knowing and staying true to your brand can capture your audience for a lifetime.


The deadline for the Kickstarter campaign is July 2. Any bets on how far this will go?

INSPIRING LIFELONG READERS WHILE BUILDING A LIFELONG BRAND

You’ve probably heard about it. The Reading Rainbow Kickstarter campaign has been a runaway success – not only meeting its $1 million goal in 8 hours, but nearly doubling it within 36 hours.

It’s not entirely surprising. We’re talking about the delightful coming together of a nostalgic brand’s cult followers, the undeniable cause of early childhood education and literacy, and generations always looking for a worthy (and heartwarming!) cause to support.

That said, this is more than a bunch of people wanting dinner with LeVar Burton or a now-coveted Reading Rainbow tee. This is a hugely, immediately successful combo of branding, fundraising and PR..

First and foremost: early childhood education and literacy strikes a nerve with people. We feel it inside our walls at Little, in our cities and towns, everywhere. Combine that with a bunch of purpose-driven individuals who can still hum the theme song without pause and you’re flying out of the gates. People are looking to support brands that not only provide them value, but also make them feel good about who they’re giving their money to.

Secondly: people still have an undeniable connection with Reading Rainbow. We know the logo. We know the song. We can picture the layout and images of the show in our heads. We intimately know the brand inside and out. Reading Rainbow has stayed true to its purpose – never straying from what they believe and what they know is successful. It makes sense that the masses would look at this opportunity and say, “Heck yeah! Reading Rainbow! I want to offer this to the next generation of readers!”

Plus, this brand connection is seamlessly integrated within the campaign’s promotion. Supporters receive a thank you tweet, making you feel like a valuable part of the cause, but also further promoting the campaign itself. LeVar Burton (or, his staff) will even call you out specifically with a large enough donation.

It’s no surprise that the Kickstarter campaign has been wildly popular. It’s authentic to what Reading Rainbow has always stood for - improving childhood literacy and creating lifelong readers  While not all brands can rely on childhood nostalgia and LeVar Burton’s star power, we think it’s a great example of how knowing and staying true to your brand can capture your audience for a lifetime.

The deadline for the Kickstarter campaign is July 2. Any bets on how far this will go?

THIS LAND IS OUR LAND

Minnesota is known for many things: 10,000 lakes, frosty winters and one-of-a-kind accents, to name a few. But Minnesota has much more to offer visitors, whether you’re a Twin City-dweller heading “Up North” for the weekend or an out-of-stater coming in for a vacation. At Little, we’re passionate about our home state and we channeled that love into creating a new logo for Explore Minnesota Tourism, the state’s tourism promotion office, that would encompass all that we are.

But how do you create a mark that’s all things to all people in a state as unique as ours? We started by drawing inspiration from Minnesota’s boundless nature. We wanted to convey the feeling that there is always more to explore and something new at every turn. And, of course, we had to capture our “Minnesota Nice” charm, which we represented with softly rounded lowercase letters. Joe Cecere, our President and Chief Creative Officer (and born and bred Minnesotan), said it best: “Now Explore Minnesota can more effectively communicate the optimism, opportunity and adventure of the Minnesota experience.” To which we say, “You betcha!”

A STONE’S THROW

Did you find yourself getting lost in more than a few games of curling during the Winter Olympics? We sure did. The thrills! The spills! The drama! Ok, so maybe curling isn’t quite that boisterous. But there’s just something about it that kept us coming back for more. So much so, in fact, that when it came time to plan our annual Spring Party, we decided to forgo the annual pilgrimage to the bowling alley and instead head over to the St. Paul Curling Club to give it a go. Olympians, we are not. But we had a blast. And only a few wipe-outs (don’t worry, no Littles were injured). Here are a few snapshots of the Little bonspiel.
A STONE’S THROW

Did you find yourself getting lost in more than a few games of curling during the Winter Olympics? We sure did. The thrills! The spills! The drama! Ok, so maybe curling isn’t quite that boisterous. But there’s just something about it that kept us coming back for more. So much so, in fact, that when it came time to plan our annual Spring Party, we decided to forgo the annual pilgrimage to the bowling alley and instead head over to the St. Paul Curling Club to give it a go. Olympians, we are not. But we had a blast. And only a few wipe-outs (don’t worry, no Littles were injured). Here are a few snapshots of the Little bonspiel.

A STONE’S THROW

Did you find yourself getting lost in more than a few games of curling during the Winter Olympics? We sure did. The thrills! The spills! The drama! Ok, so maybe curling isn’t quite that boisterous. But there’s just something about it that kept us coming back for more. So much so, in fact, that when it came time to plan our annual Spring Party, we decided to forgo the annual pilgrimage to the bowling alley and instead head over to the St. Paul Curling Club to give it a go. Olympians, we are not. But we had a blast. And only a few wipe-outs (don’t worry, no Littles were injured). Here are a few snapshots of the Little bonspiel.

THE NICKNAME GAME
In celebration of Ron Gardenhire’s 1000th career win, we created a so-simple-it’s-brilliant nickname-generating website to honor the Minnesota Twins Manager. Besides having a firecracker personality and a propensity for getting ejected from games, “Gardy” is known for calling his players by nicknames. However, the careful listener will notice that those nicknames follow a certain formula. We used his format to assemble the Ron Gardenhire Nickname Generator.

Within hours of launch, the site was drawing coverage in the local media and garnering thousands of hits as users looked to get their name Gardy-ized. Our final tally came to more than 18,000 hits on launch day. Some of our favorite anecdotes were from those who didn’t get the joke. “This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen,” said one radio personality, while continuing to spend the next several minutes on-air entering names into the site. Like Gardy knows, you can’t win ‘em all, but, as it turns out, they’ll love you just the same.
THE NICKNAME GAME
In celebration of Ron Gardenhire’s 1000th career win, we created a so-simple-it’s-brilliant nickname-generating website to honor the Minnesota Twins Manager. Besides having a firecracker personality and a propensity for getting ejected from games, “Gardy” is known for calling his players by nicknames. However, the careful listener will notice that those nicknames follow a certain formula. We used his format to assemble the Ron Gardenhire Nickname Generator.

Within hours of launch, the site was drawing coverage in the local media and garnering thousands of hits as users looked to get their name Gardy-ized. Our final tally came to more than 18,000 hits on launch day. Some of our favorite anecdotes were from those who didn’t get the joke. “This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen,” said one radio personality, while continuing to spend the next several minutes on-air entering names into the site. Like Gardy knows, you can’t win ‘em all, but, as it turns out, they’ll love you just the same.

THE NICKNAME GAME

In celebration of Ron Gardenhire’s 1000th career win, we created a so-simple-it’s-brilliant nickname-generating website to honor the Minnesota Twins Manager. Besides having a firecracker personality and a propensity for getting ejected from games, “Gardy” is known for calling his players by nicknames. However, the careful listener will notice that those nicknames follow a certain formula. We used his format to assemble the Ron Gardenhire Nickname Generator.

Within hours of launch, the site was drawing coverage in the local media and garnering thousands of hits as users looked to get their name Gardy-ized. Our final tally came to more than 18,000 hits on launch day. Some of our favorite anecdotes were from those who didn’t get the joke. “This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen,” said one radio personality, while continuing to spend the next several minutes on-air entering names into the site. Like Gardy knows, you can’t win ‘em all, but, as it turns out, they’ll love you just the same.

MINNESOTA LIFE FOR LIFE

We’re excited to announce our new partnership with Minnesota Life, the group insurance division of Securian Financial Group, Inc., St. Paul. With a reputation for excellent service, Minnesota Life serves many of the country’s top employers. We’re already digging in developing new marketing strategies for the company that will help it stand apart in the marketplace. Watch for more to come.

TAKING HOME SOME HARDWARE

Last week we had the honor of taking home five gorgeous and surprisingly heavy new pieces of office décor from the 2014 AIGA MN Design Show. The winning projects were the Fair State Brewing identity and the Fair State website, this year’s Little Valentine, LSI City posters, and the APM Marketplace identity. There was some absolutely amazing work from our peers on display, we’re extremely proud to be among such great company!

WELL HELLO, HOJO

Let’s give a warm welcome to HoJo Willenzik, our newest Copy Director at Little. Aside from his sharp wit, HoJo brings us more than 15 years of experience accumulated while working at Kruskopf Coontz, VSA Partners and HartungKemp. Oh, and apparently he’s a ringer when it comes to Nerf hoops, but we have yet to test his skills on the court.

HoJo’s client roster includes Target, Cargill, 3M, IBM, GE, Harley-Davidson, Mack Trucks and United Healthcare. HoJo has been featured in Communication Arts, Print, Ad Age, ADWEEK and Creativity. His awards include The One Show, AIGA365, AR100 and the Mpls Show. He holds a Bachelor of Arts, History from Tulane University in New Orleans.

Downtown Minneapolis