It’s hard to miss the 10,000-square-foot scaffolding wrap surrounding downtown Minneapolis’ City Center—part of a new brand identity. Sussner Design Company, the firm behind the branding project, is owned by Plymouth husband-and-wife team Tessa and Derek Sussner. The Sussners are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their award-winning branding business.
Derek Sussner says people often confuse branding and advertising. “We’re not marketers. We’re not an advertising agency. We’re not writing ads or jingles or promotions. That’s another specialization. Our role is in drawing out the authentic values, personality traits and skill set of a company or their products or their services,” says Derek.
The Sussners help companies who seek help in telling their own story. “We help them describe how they want to look, to put an honest face and voice to a company, product or service to help them grow their business. What motivates me more than anything else is when clients say, ‘Oh my gosh, we’ve been struggling with how to say that our entire career. You helped us finally figure out how what we do is different than what our competitors do,’” says Derek.
Sussner Design is also behind the new look of the Capella Tower’s recently refreshed brand. The Capella Tower was undergoing renovations and needed a new logo to help attract new tenants, says Derek.
“We work on the visual components like colors, logos ... photography and imagery. We’ve been doing a lot of work in environmental graphics. That means spaces—retail spaces, corporate office spaces. [We specialize in] helping buildings create or refresh their brand, and then apply the brand to their spaces to help them bring about that personality and stand out among all the other buildings somebody might consider," says Derek.
For example, Sussner Design created a logo for the AT&T Tower to replace the iconic blue sphere. “While it still has to be called AT&T Tower because they have the naming rights, we were able to create a new logo and brand identity,” says Tessa.
“Our client is the marketing leader inside an organization who has been tasked with growing the business or launching a product—a business owner who is overwhelmed with all kinds of other things they have to do in addition to marketing,” says Derek.
The Sussners have clients do exercises in which they find the words that best describe their company and how they want it to be perceived. Part of the process is creating mood boards, says Derek. “It's a great way to check-in with the client before we begin designing the brand. There are color schemes [and other elements] for the company to look over. We work with clients’ internal teams and go through steps that help them be successful in creating their brand identity. We’ve honed a process that’s based on client feedback. Once the client approves the plan ... the team moves forward and creates the logo,” he says.
“For the AT&T Tower, they asked us to refresh the brand so that it would attract and retain the right kind of tenants to the building, [who would] think the space is cool and think that they want to be a part of that building,” says Tessa.
Derek emphasizes Sussner Design’s job is helping clients articulate their values and amplify their voices. “It’s like naming somebody's baby. [What] I’m looking for isn’t necessarily ‘Oh my God, how did you come up with that?’ It’s ‘Oh yeah, finally—that feels just right.’ And we facilitate that,” he says.