We believe ideas come from everyone, everywhere. In fact, at Little, everyone within our agency walls is a designer in their own right. And there are a few principles we believe—and we believe everyone should believe—about our design craft. These truths drive us, motivate us, and ultimately help us redefine the power of design.
We’re big believers in doing right by our neighbors. After all, we grew up in the Twin Cities and we believe this place has much to offer. So we do what we can to support the community we love. Over the past four years, we’ve provided more than $1 million in combined cash and pro bono support to Way to Grow, an early childhood education and nonprofit organization. Other community giving involvement throughout our agency history includes pro bono work for more than 13 organizations, direct giving, a scholarship program through the Minneapolis College of Art & Design, board memberships, and ongoing participation in the Keystone Club, which gives five percent of our company’s earnings back to the community each year.
At just eight years old, Joe Cecere found his calling when he put marker to poster board and became the designated designer for the daily specials at his parents’ restaurant. In high school, Joe entered a logo design competition for the local cable access channel. And won. So begins the storied career of our President and Chief Creative Officer.
Joe came to Little as a wide-eyed designer not knowing he’d one day lead the company. He was hired by one of his former professors, none other than Monica Little, who recognized that his passion and raw talent would be an asset to the company. And she was right. With a unique balance of creativity, strategic thinking and a mind for business, Joe quickly worked his way up the ranks. Today, he not only leads our agency, he’s a well-respected leader in the design community as a whole.
Recognizing that in our changing world design can’t rest on aesthetics, Joe has spearheaded the evolution of Little into an agency that delivers solution-based design work and branding from the inside out. This includes building a creative team with diverse yet complementary skillsets and fostering collaboration and passion for what we do. He encourages risk-taking and embraces mistakes, as long as those mistakes become a learning moment. He sets the tone for everything we deliver, encouraging employees to use both sides of their brains to produce work that is novel, exciting and, most important, meaningful. All in all, Joe’s rare gift of business aptitude and creativity makes him one heck of a leader. (And we’re not just saying that because he’s our boss (but it couldn’t hurt, right?))
Joe pursued his passion for design at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design (MCAD). Aside from working his way up from Designer to President and partner, Joe lists being asked to judge at the AIGA National show, speaking at the HOW conference and receiving a 100 Best Companies to Work award as some of his crowning professional achievements. At home, Joe is a husband, dad, bike enthusiast and amateur chef. His dream is to open an Italian restaurant someday. If and when that happens, we assume it will have the best specials boards you’ve ever seen.
It takes balance to keep a company going strong for 30+ years. You need just enough risk and just enough risk management. Enter Joanne Kuebler, our Principal and the yin to Monica’s yang. She’s the brains of our organization, and her creative edge comes in the form of spot-on management of creative people. When we say “what if” she says, “here’s how. Oh, and here’s your budget.”
When Joanne joined, Little was truly little. As in 10-ish employees. At the time, Monica was loving owning a business, but couldn’t figure out how to turn a profit. Turns out she just needed a Joanne. In fact, we all need a Joanne.
She’s our behind-the-scenes cheerleader. While we’re out there working on clients’ brands she’s here working on our brand, giving us the tools to practice what we preach about telling the whole brand story.
Joanne is central command for our team, helping support our strength and unity. And that means so much more than managing individual employees. We’re truly a team because of Joanne’s focus on finding the right people who fit our culture. She’s a stickler for qualities like accountability, talent and having an open mind. And most importantly, Joanne has a strict no-ego policy. We can thank her for creating an environment where we all feel empowered, and surrounding us with people who we really like.
Always an overachiever, Joanne holds degrees in Business, Marketing and Management from Northern State University. And she puts all that learning to use daily here at Little. Outside our walls, Joanne focuses on her family. Like she does for us, she works hard to instill values in her kids by getting them involved in service work. You’ll also find her on the sidelines of their soccer and baseball events, where her cheering isn’t quite so behind-the-scenes.
Meet our founder and namesake, Monica Little. Fresh out of college, Monica wanted to make a name for herself among the male-dominated field of design. So what did this plucky young problem-solver do? She didn’t just make a name for herself, she put her name on the door. More than 35 years later, her agency is still charging ahead in a very big way.
Spunky, fearless, no-nonsense and smart as a whip, Monica built Little from the ground up and the inside out. She’s known for inspiring design that works on a deeper level to solve problems, always asking for the “why” before the “what.” Monica was thinking strategically before anybody realized that strategy had a place in the world of graphic design, and her passion and insight has helped her become a notable thought leader in the design community.
Perhaps one of Monica’s most notable qualities in an industry that’s often (and incorrectly!) stereotyped as egocentric is her big, generous heart. Monica always has the best interests in mind for those around her. Her personal mission is to inspire everyone to give back to the community. In fact, Monica’s passion for philanthropy is a huge part of her legacy at Little and has been the driving factor in our ongoing pro-bono work with organizations such as Way to Grow.
Monica holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in visual communications from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD). In 2012 she received an AIGA Fellow award from the Minnesota chapter, an esteemed prize that honors her contributions to the design community. Aside from playing den mother to all of us at Little, Monica is a true family person. She also dedicates a substantial amount of time to sharing her business acumen and philanthropic ideals with various nonprofit boards and committees. Simply put, Monica Little makes a big impact in everything she does.