Design of the times: MHD takes classic approach to modern branding

Marcia Herrman Design of Modesto has been working with clients for 30 years.

Business Journal Editor

MODESTO – For the past 30 years, Marcia Herrmann Design has been working with clients to help them reach their goals of success.

Marcia Herrmann began her business with a single client, the doubly named Salon Salon. From there, with the help of the salon’s owner Norma Foster Maddy, Herrmann connected with the community around her, garnering more clients. Now, the design and public relations firm services anywhere from 50 to 100 clients per year.

“I loved art, but I had no idea you could make money at art,” Herrmann said. She worked with arts and crafts while living in her native town of Fresno. A friend’s boyfriend suggested she take classes in design. Her schooling and career path took her to Chico, then to Sacramento and, finally, Modesto.

Along the way, Herrmann earned a master’s degree in visual communications and was hired by a political consulting firm.

Her husband’s job with Campbell’s Soup Company led them to the Central Valley town of Modesto, where she didn’t know anyone. She was hired by a small design firm, and her skillsets grew. Eventually, Herrmann decided she needed to strike out on her own.

“Modesto is a community where we help one another and it’s closely knit, so Norma introduced me to a lot of different people who had a higher level of design awareness,” Herrmann said. “I had wonderful opportunities with a lot of clients.”

The firm has grown tremendously, according to Herrmann. Not only is MHD a branding and design firm, but it is a full agency, providing public relations, marketing and strategy, web solutions and social media.

Modesto-based Del Rio Country Club has been with MHD for about six years.

“They helped identify what messages we were trying to convey,” Duncan Reno, General Manager of Del Rio, said. The difference from how the country club presented itself before and now is significant, he said. “It’s night and day. People, when they walk in, they have a bit more respect. We look and feel that much more professional.”

The firm helped Del Rio with its branding, the color scheme and keeping its message consistent. Reno said they still consult with MHD whenever they prepare a new campaign to ensure they are on target.

“We really believe in strategy, and we believe in listening and understanding who are clients are,” Hermann said. “We have a process called the ‘Four D’s.’”

The process involves discovering who the client is and where they’ve been, defining the problem, designing and then delivering on the final product.

“It’s understanding who they want to target, the main goal and what the return on the goal is,” Herrmann said.

And accomplishing those goals, at least on the part of MHD, is largely visual. Design is art, Herrmann said, but it’s also solving visual problems, not just something done on a whim. “We have to learn to define the problem properly to hit the goal,” she said.

Having a full agency is integral in helping clients reach their goals. Nowadays, online solutions are just as important in the process. Ten years ago, Herrmann brought Maria Carlson into MHD to expand into the online realm. In that time, Carlson and her team have created 300 websites for clients.

“Maria is a very important part of my business,” Herrmann said. “In every area of expertise, we have people within the office that we rely on. I look at everything, as does Maria.”

Carlson oversees the digital side as well as the marketing department.

As the firm grows it continues to seek excellence. But that can’t always be the case. There are just some clients with which a relationship doesn’t work. Herrmann says her success rate is about 95 percent. There will always be those clients they are unable to service.

“I think that happens. I’ve been in business too long to say that would never happen,” Herrmann said. “I think you know when you can’t dance with someone. You know and they know. But I can’t think of a client that we parted with difficulty or animosity.”

“We always strive to meet the client’s needs and their expectations,” Carlson added. “We always figure out a solution. I don’t think they ever leave without a solution.”

Herrmann’s team is not slowing down. As Herrmann and Carlson look at how best to grow the company, keeping it in speed with the changing times, they foster the next generation of talent. They hire new team members with intention.

“They have given us a boost in design and energy,” Herrmann said of their younger employees. “I see a lot of creative thought coming from the next generation. Everyone in the office, I’m very proud of. I’m proud of their growth.”


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