Going Back to My Roots

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The Mall of America turned 25 this month, which reminded me of the early days of my career. I was working at Holiday Companies as an art director and they were opening a store inside the MOA. Yes, a “gas station” in the mall.

Part of our launch strategy was to attract young people to the brand and have an edge in our marketing. One of my ideas was to put “No, we ain’t got gas!” on the digital sign at the entrance of the store. Leadership went for it.

Well that certainly got attention! And several complaints for the use of bad grammar. (But I highly doubt it was the target audience that was complaining.) Anyways, that was one of my most memorable campaigns. And it was related to signs.

Over the course of the next 25 years, I worked on some pretty creative and elaborate signage for a variety of clients:

  • Retail promotions for Kawasaki motorcycles and jet skis including die-cut window, wall, floor and hanging promotional signs
  • An educational center for Ameriprise Financial at their corporate headquarters with a history wall, testimonial video booths, wall murals, projections and rotating displays
  • Huge trade show booth graphics for Smith & Nephew (medical device company) with revolving overhead signs, wall murals and interactive kiosks
  • Office rebranding for Hudson Physicians, including illuminated outdoor channel letter signs, interior departmental/directional signs, wall graphics and custom-made lobby signage (a beautiful combo of hand-painted wood and acrylic that kids kept breaking – lesson learned)

I loved the agency life and the creative thinking that went into every project. But times have changed, and the focus is now more on data and the digital landscape than on the art part. So I’m following my husband (who is also an artist as well as a super smart business person) into the sign business!

We started KORT Sign Design about five years ago as an independent small business that is focused on quality, custom signage. (If you want cheap banners, order them online.) Steve has built it into a studio that local businesses count on for great marketing ideas and exceptional executional of signs of all kinds. And now I’ll be seated at the round table with an amazing group of designers, bringing beauty to our community through signage!

Please stop by for a visit, or call to catch up. I’d love to hear from you. mary@kortsigns.com 763-432-7630

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