a bit about btd

the beginnings of a brand + design agency

Sarah Steil and Lisa Reed joined forces and officially launched Be That Design LLC in 2013, after working together to provide graphic design and branding services to University of Minnesota clients through an in-house agency. Their love of typography, design, restaurants, and delightful customer service experiences shaped their partnership and the way in which they served clients both small and large.

Sarah and Lisa continue to run the day-to-day workings of BTD BRAND, including designing, meeting with clients, working with interns, volunteering, sharing recipes and recent restaurant excursions, and often laughing. Their commitment to sustaining a brand design agency with empathy and helpfulness towards clients’ sometimes difficult deadlines informs and improves an ever-present collaborative attitude. Making clients’ days easier, lighter, and more efficient is always top of mind.

who we are

Founder + Designer

Born with keen observational skills, immense focus, and a tendency to be highly sensitive to the needs of others, I spent much of my early free time exploring and interacting with countless “visually complex stuff” found in my nearby grandparents’ home just a few blocks away.

Since then, I’ve been collaborating with for-profit and non-profit companies of various sizes for the past 20+ years in the area of brand creation, assessment, and evolution. My work experience has included boutique brand, marketing, and design firms, including co-founding Be That Design LLC in 2012 after completing my Master’s of Fine Arts Degree in Interactive Design.

The reason I show up to work each day is to improve and refine the quality of communications for our education, manufacturing, professional services, and restaurant clients. Learning each day, our team becomes a more closely integrated part of our clients’ communications and marketing teams. Together, we collaborate, discuss, and launch the most effective and impactful brand communications possible while meeting client timing and budget parameters.

EDUCATION: B.A. Studio Art, University of Northern Iowa; M.A. Interactive Design, University of Minnesota

Partner + Designer

Being self-employed in the service industry for much of my childhood, I filled my days designing countless menus, creating seating charts, taking customer orders, providing crayons to the the kiddos, preparing and serving plastic food (sometimes hibachi-style), and attending to my ‘real’ and ‘stuffed’ customers’ every need. I’ve been creating immersive customer experiences since I can remember.

Each day, I enjoy the challenge of concepting, creating, and evaluating the potential impact of all types of visual communication for specific and diverse audiences. My educational background and work experience have become intertwined as we collaborate with clients to deliver design that inspires action, expands awareness, and educates.

I collaborate with clients to reach beyond what is comfortable, familiar, and safe to deliver surprising, affordable, and effective solutions. Working closely with clients, our understanding of their businesses, objectives, and needs is continually clarified so that we can create visually exciting, engaging, and focused graphic and interactive materials that meet and exceed client expectations.

EDUCATION: B.S. Graphic Design / Retail Merchandising, University of Minnesota; Minor: Business Management, Carlson School of Management

Creative + Engaging Copywriter 

With a background in film and communication, I received a BA in Studies in Cinema and Media Culture as well as in Communication Studies. And having worked most of my career extensively in media, I know it’s the words and stories we tell that shape who we know ourselves to be, how powerfully we show up in the world, and determine what we think is possible to create and imagine. This is why I believe the stories we tell matter and why I love capturing and sharing other’s unique stories. 

I’ve written copy, edited, and proofread for a variety of clients ranging from in-depth research pieces and creative social media posts, to lifestyle articles as well as technical copywriting and brand marketing — effectively connecting the audience with the brand and organization.

I am a multifaceted writer with my work crossing diverse genres. I thrive in the creative process and love the experience of being immersed in learning and problem solving. And through writing I endeavor to engage, connect, and inspire.

EDUCATION: University of Minnesota

Illustrator + Graphic Designer

Hi, I’m Madeline Lokensgard. I’m a multidisciplinary creative and designer with a BA in Communication Studies, Graphic Design, and Biblical and Theological Studies from Bethel University. My creativity is best found and expressed through illustration work, photography, written words, and a good conversation.

For me, inspiration is found in everything — the shadows the sun makes in early mornings, mountain pines that refuse to stop growing, the mess of humanity that finds a way to connect us all — my self-assumed purpose in life is to gather this magic and make something out of it.

EDUCATION: Bethel University

Video + Digital Content Creator

Hello, my name is Tiffany Nguyen. I was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I recently graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in Technical Writing and Communication – IT and Design. I want to do meaningful work with my experience in design, writing, photography, and videography —honing in these skills to create and document impactful stories.

I have a background in marketing, advertising, fashion, and UX/UI web design and hope to be a multifaceted creative producer. Outside of my profession, I enjoy being an autodidact, traveler, and a pup parent.

EDUCATION: University of Minnesota

Business Development Manager

More to come.

clients: past and present

our values


Our egos never burn the midnight oil, but our eyes will light up when we’ve hit the mark for your branded communications. Whether we’re designing a logo, website, HTML email, brochure, business card, office signage, client appreciation gift, conference/tradeshow or other marketing materials, your creative aspirations will always come first.

We work to earn your trust and to exceed your expectations for each and every project.

We believe that the most effective way to create value with our clients is to use their expertise and ours in tandem. Our fingers, ears, and eyes are always ready to talk, email, Skype, text, or meet with you, making you a valuable member of our team. From project definition onward, your opinions, ideas, and involvement is not only welcome, but critical to the work’s strategic and financial value.


While creativity is what makes our world go round, we live and die by our budget just like you, so we always have one eye in the sky and one fist around the pocketbook. When creating, evaluating, or producing your project we are always on the lookout to maximize your marketing budget, minimize surprises, and get you the best results possible.

Effective communications are the ones that are affordable to produce — period.

To serve you best, we keep our design agency team smartly small, sourcing nimble partners to serve you where we can’t—a handful of trusted skinflints like ourselves who thrive on delivering value, value, value. We keep overhead low and our ‘wants’ in check so that our expenses stay in line and we can pass this savings onto our clients who we know are watching every penny.

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