Minneapolis advertising agency Colle+McVoy has spun out a new stand-alone design firm called 10 Thousand Design.

Ed Bennett, founder and executive design director of 10 Thousand Design, said it wants to pursue national clients and work on larger-scale assignments that had been difficult to attract as part of an ad agency.

“We’ve had great success within the agency, but as we started looking at it, it became increasingly hard to position ourselves beyond an ad agency with design capabilities,” said Bennett, who has worked at Colle+McVoy for almost 16 years.

Colle+McVoy has a history of recognizable design work, such as the relaunch of Caribou Coffee, which included the redesign of its logo and look of its cups, and a modernization of the century-old Grain Belt beer brand. It also helps with in-store marketing for Target.

The spinoff is similar to what the agency did in 2005, when it decided to create its sister PR firm Exponent to try to appeal to companies that specifically wanted public relations expertise.

“A lot of agencies have great designers,” Bennett said. “A lot of design firms position themselves that they can do advertising too.”

What Bennett hopes will differentiate 10 Thousand is its strict design focus and expertise.

The firm will operate as a partner of Colle+McVoy and provide design support. It will share space in the company’s downtown office and also share some clients. But 10 Thousand will also have the opportunity to do its own work as well.

The firm’s first stand-alone client is the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society in California. The firm will develop a new identity and logo for the center, as well as redo some of its other marketing materials.

There are 18 designers, both traditional and digital, on the firm’s roster. In the last three years, the design contingent within Colle+McVoy had tripled in size, growing in both numbers of designers and amount of work.

The 10 Thousand Design name was inspired by Minnesota’s more than 10,000 lakes as well as the belief that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a craft like design.

Colle+McVoy earlier this year announced five promotions and six new hires within its media group, including last week’s hiring of a new executive director of media, Steve Knapp. The firm has said this growth is a reflection of the increasing role that media planning and buying have in the industry.

According to trade publication Ad Age, Colle+McVoy, which has about 250 employees, ranks fourth among advertising agencies in the Twin Cities with around $38.5 million in revenue last year.

“We are continually looking for new ways to provide greater value to our clients,” Christine Fruechte, chief executive of Colle+McVoy, said in a statement. “The time is right to brand our design offering to elevate the importance of design-centric thinking and create transformative outcomes for our clients.”


Twitter: @nicolenorfleet