Ten years ago, Chelsea Mills had a problem. She turned that problem into a marketing, graphic design and web design agency serving hundreds of clients.
In 2007, Mills left her role as marketing/event coordinator for the Fenton Regional Chamber of Commerce to work for another small company before she decided to stay home with her kids while they were young. She realized she missed the work world, which provoked the launch of Behind Your Design as a home-based business. Her concept for Behind Your Design was using her ability to illustrate what a client is trying to articulate to create cohesive, consistent branding for businesses across all media. While behind the scenes, Mills would create strategically designed communications to promote or revitalize a client’s brand.
Behind Your Design’s first client was Jim Peabody, then owner of Smith Peabody & Stiles Insurance Agency. Familiar with Mills’ work, Peabody trusted she could handle the needs of his growing company.
“Chelsea has a great design sense but more than that, she’s wicked smart,” he says. “She rarely mentions it, but she has an economics degree from the Gerstacker program at Albion College. Many people are talented on the artistic side of graphic design and advertising, but Chelsea really gets the business side too. With her business mind and artistic eye, she has a unique ability to see the whole picture.”
Peabody was not the only person to recognize Mills’ talents. Behind Your Design was exceeding the expectations of clients, and word-of-mouth referrals sent more and more clients her way. Mills hired an assistant in 2011 to help with the workload. The business continued to grow, demanding additional workers.
In February 2014, Chelsea’s husband, Matt, left his position in school administration to work alongside Chelsea. When the office building that originally housed the insurance agency started by Peabody’s father-in-law, Jim Smith, became available, Chelsea and Matt knew it was meant to be. They purchased the building at 100 S. Adelaide St. in Fenton in September 2014.
Now in its tenth year, Behind Your Design employs a team of five. “We offer a team structure to our clients which can meet the graphic design, social media and promotional needs of a business,” Chelsea says. “Big or small, they share their goals with us, we create a vision and make it happen. Some clients may only need business cards and letterhead. Others may need a full ongoing campaign with print and digital media, event promotion, website design, trade show display and marketing consultation.”
Chelsea and Matt value their client relationships. “Regardless of the scope of the project, the relationship comes first,” she says. While they have many avenues through which to promote, they are careful to utilize those that make the most sense for each individual client. “Local businesses have a challenge to stay prominent and build by word of mouth, while in competition with national chains that have a lot of advertising pull. We aren’t going to sell them something they don’t need. We’re going to focus on what is best for them, not what puts the most money in our pocket.”
If a business needs a strategic partnership, Chelsea and Matt are well known for bringing clients together for collaborative projects. “If our clients are successful, they’re happy,” she says. “If our clients are happy, we’re happy, but that doesn’t mean we rest. We continue to work with them, creating innovative ideas that will appeal to their existing and future customers.”
The majority of their new business has been referrals from satisfied clients. Behind Your Design has a client base of close to 300 businesses, ranging from a single pottery artist and a local bank to several multimillion-dollar corporations. The diverse clientele gives Behind Your Design the opportunity to research best marketing practices and innovative ideas across many industries. Such exposure allows the company to implement and cross-promote cutting-edge ideas to benefit clients and enables it to adapt to the changing needs of each business.
Community is also important to Matt and Chelsea. They continue to be active in the Fenton Regional Chamber of Commerce, volunteering on several Chamber committees, and sit on several boards, including Linden, Argentine, Fenton and Lake Fenton (LAFF) Pathways; YMCA Camp Copneconic and La Forza Soccer Club. Matt also enjoys coaching for La Forza Soccer Club.
“Chelsea’s commitment to the community, and the many ways that she gets involved, is really an asset to her clients. It allows her to be proactive with ideas to help us grow,” Matt explains.
Outside of work and community involvement, the Mills family enjoys traveling, especially to England to visit Matt’s family. Chelsea and Matt have two children, Ian and Addison.
Visit Behind Your Design at 100 S. Adelaide St., Fenton, or online at www.behindyourdesign.com .
A t Bella Vita, exceeding the expectations of the residents is simply the beginning. Having a quality life in our later years is the least we all should expect. Bella Vita is committed to providing an environment that allows one to feel independent, with the assistance of its highly trained care group.
Today family businesses have a competitive edge that could hardly be anticipated. As millennials continue to take up over one third of the workforce, many of these individuals are looking for more out of a career than a paycheck. In this new arena, family businesses have an edge in building a sustainable footprint because of the personal connection between the family and the community they serve.
A textbook example of this is Peabody Insurance Agency, a company with a history of serving the community since 1919. In the last year Peabody Insurance has grown the team to include two new family hires, Grace and Brandon, and has completely remodeled its office.
“In order to thrive in today’s competitive environment, I believe it’s important for businesses to give the next generation a voice in how we should work and serve our customers,” explains Jim Peabody, partner of Peabody Insurance in Fenton. “Our team has developed a culture of collaboration, where insurance knowledge is fused with new ideas, processes and tools.”
Peabody Insurance is now one of the most capable independent agencies in the state, with the development of an interactive safety app, DocuSign, virtual meetings and a client portal. “Many of our features have the goal of saving our clients time and money. Customers have the ability to choose how they want to do business with us,” Jo Schofield, account executive, explains, “and our customers enjoy supporting local businesses because they know those dollars are going right back into their hometown.”
Starting a new business? Looking to give your current logo a 'refresh'? It can be easy to just think 'I need a logo!' - what you are saying is that you want a graphic representation of your business to use on your marketing materials. What you need however is a memorable overall ' brand' that will attract customers to your business. Luckily, at Behind Your Design, we can help you with all your needs, even the ones you don't know yet.
How do I create a brand?
It's important to know your brand values and aspirations. Basically, your WHY? What made you start your business in the first place? What problem are you solving and what are your passions? Long term, where do you want to be in 2, 5, 10 years? The answers to those questions are the core of your brand. We want to give you the tools you need to reach your greatest potential.
Next, we'll work on the personality of your brand. What will your brand look like? Sound, feel, act like? Knowing your business' personality allows it to shine through everything we do. It also helps narrow down your target customer and decide how your business will interact with them. Appealing to a certain audience makes marketing efforts meaningful and effective.
Consistency is key. We work together to create an entire brand concept and easy guidelines to follow. Colors, fonts, patterns... Anything to make your look consistent will be part of your brand. Then, we use those elements across all platforms (website, social media, business cards, etc) to ensure your voice, mission and design flow fluidly and works together.
Once you've created this brand, it's time to go beyond that and uphold the reputation. Your customers have to truly believe in your brand, just like you do, and will, in turn, become loyal advocates of your business. Not only will they stay local to you but they'll also recommend you to others.
Your business is so much more than just a logo. We believe building a solid brand can become a company's greatest asset, so we cover every step: