DO: BETTER, Ann Arbor’s Design Startup, Is On Forbes Next 1000 2021 List
DO BETTER, a local Ann Arbor branded design agency founded in 2017, was recently named in the Forbes 2021 Next 1000 listing. The list recognizes small businesses across the country with less than $ 10 million in funds or revenue, according to Forbes.
The agency’s mission is focused on improving businesses through branding. It focuses not only on the aesthetics of branding such as logos and marketing, but also on the identity, purpose and internal and external culture of a company.
Strategy Director Danielle Milner and Creative Director Jon Eslinger originally co-founded DO: BETTER in Ypsilanti. The company then moved to Ann Arbor because, according to Milner, it is a “mecca of talent” and an “amazing place” for the company. According to Forbes’ description of DO: BETTER, the company currently has more than 80 clients and had revenue of $ 225,000 in 2020.
Milner and Eslinger both worked in the branding department of Lake Trust Credit Union from 2013 to 2017 before starting DO: BETTER. They met in 2007 when Milner, who at the time worked at NuUnion Credit Union, hired the branding agency Eslinger worked for.
“When we first made contact, I understood that she had and still has extensive expertise in strategic planning and cultural development for some of the marketing needs of large organizations,” Eslinger said in an interview with The Daily.
Eslinger and Milner both spoke about how Donald Trump’s election and presidency in 2016 affected their decision to start the company, saying his election made them want to ‘do better’.
“That era really created momentum for a lot of different people who were trying to create movement,” Milner said. “We were at a point and a point in our careers where we wanted to do more and help companies be really better, to live up to some of these intrinsic motivations – not only to make money, but also to make an impact in the world. “
DO: BETTER created the Huron Valley Habitat for Humanity brand, which Eslinger described as one of the most interesting and rewarding jobs he has done in the business. Eslinger recounted the challenges and opportunities that arise when working with a well-known national brand.
“The most rewarding projects for us are always when we are able to work closely with a client and act as a marketing team,” Milner said. “So in a way, that really integrates us into the organization. It also gives us that place where we can sort of elevate ourselves into what’s else going on, that 10,000 foot level, where we can see two, three, or five years down the road.
Regarding his creative process, Eslinger said he aims to keep it research-intensive and as open and collaborative as possible so that companies are “heavily invested” in the process.
“We’re trying to figure out why someone exists and what they mean to the world or their audience,” Eslinger said. “We spend a lot of our time trying to get into their heads and figure out the ‘why’. How do they want people to feel? How much are they worth – why would anyone want to spend their time or money with them? Why would anyone choose this company over another? “
While Eslinger said there is “no shortage of great designers” and that Milner’s understanding of the importance of branding is what sets DO: BETTER apart, Milner pointed out importance of their passion, their culture and their spirit of collaboration.
“It’s a really great combination of listening, and we’re so good at tapping into people’s hearts and minds, showing them something that they’ve never been able to see before,” Milner said. “I think we are the best at bringing emotion into the equation and creating something really special in the experience of the brand itself.”
According to Eslinger, the company has doubled in size over the past six months and continues to develop its own brand. Milner said she too was excited about the future of DO: BETTER.
“We’re almost five years old – which sounds like one of those really big milestones, but where we’re headed is taking the brand to the next level for organizations,” Milner said. “It’s this idea of cultural brands, both inside and out, and I really see that this is a place where we will continue to excel. I really want people to love where they work and feel like they’ve worked somewhere where they make a difference.
Daily reporter Jared Dougall can be contacted at [email protected].