By The Minneapolis Egotist / /
In 1979, Miranda Moss and her partners (Peter Seitz and Hideki Yamamoto) founded Seitz Yamamoto Moss (SYM), a new type of creative agency in the Twin Cities focused on the growing field of brand identity development — the specific design and messaging an organization uses (logo, color scheme, typography, voice, tone, packaging) to distinguish itself from its competitors.
Over the next 30 years, the award-winning agency (later rebranded Yamamoto Moss, YM, in 1986) built a national reputation for branding excellence and, along with other dynamic advertising and marketing agencies, helped put the Twin Cities on the national map as a creative hub.
Under her leadership, YM evolved to offer a full range of services, including audience research, brand strategy, positioning and architecture, messaging, communications design, web development, environmental design and packaging and served consumer and B2B clients. Miranda also developed strategic alliances with partners in London, Tokyo, Singapore, and China to serve YM’s clients and their international marketing needs.
At its peak, under her leadership, YM employed 110 staff in Minneapolis, with satellite offices in Miami and Shenzhen, China. For several years the agency was identified as one of the fastest growing in the state of Minnesota.
She was an active and decade-long member of the Board of Directors of the Design Management Institute (DMI), founded in 1975, which brings together an international community of educators, researchers, designers, and corporate design leaders from every design discipline.
Not only was YM breaking ground in a new area of marketing and communications, but Miranda was, as well, serving as one of a handful of women to lead an agency in the Twin Cities in the late 1970s. Her leadership success was recognized by the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) in 1996 when she was recognized at Entrepreneur of the Year. She was later inducted into the NAWBO Hall of Fame inaugural class in 2013 recognizing her years as partner and principal at Yamamoto Moss.
Miranda and Hideki sold YM to publicly traded holding company MDC Partners in October 2006, which merged it with an existing MCD Partners agency in Minneapolis — Mackenzie Marketing — to form Yamamoto Moss Mackenzie, with Miranda and Hideki retaining their partner and principal titles. After 30 years at the helm, Miranda and Hideki retired in 2009 and moved to Princeville, HI.
Miranda Moss: Creative Culture Builder
During her 30 years as founder and principal, Miranda fashioned a distinctive creative culture at Yamamoto Moss (YM) that fueled the agency through its headiest days, sustained it when things got tough, and inspired a generation to carry its spirit forward as leaders in their own right.
YM’s culture was about more than its physical space (which was beautiful with paintings, baby grand piano, cozy nooks and crannies, and the latest technology), its work perks (which were many, including: unforgettable holiday and agency anniversary parties, all-staff cruises, spa days, personal chef-prepared meals, entertainment, and more), or its hustle mentality (although there were plenty of long hours spent creating and finetuning ideas and prepping for pitches and client presentations).
While everyone at YM contributed to building its culture, Miranda (together with partner Hideki Yamamoto) was the prime driver, role-modeling the inclusive practices that made it distinctive. She personified trust, respect, humor, curiosity, tenacity, and genuine kindness. She instinctively knew that the agency’s diversity (in all its manifestations) was its superpower, and that a love of the creative process was a shared bond. She laced it all together with fun and worked hard to make sure everyone felt inspired and connected. That special culture was a magnet for a crazy mix of talented people who came together under her charismatic leadership and produced big, bold, beautiful work.
A generation of young talent saw Miranda in action and, as they built their careers, emulated her by setting high standards for their work, feeding their imaginations, being tenacious, and always remembering that kindness and humor were their most powerful professional assets.
Her legacy is evident in the hundreds of messages she’s received over the past weeks from former employees who proudly declare that YM was the best place they ever worked, that the experience was life-changing, and that she remains a role model for how to live a creative, meaningful life.
Miranda Moss: Artist
Before, during, and after her successful 30-year career as founder and principal of the Minneapolis-based creative brand agency Yamamoto Moss (YM), Miranda Moss was first and last an artist.
She earned a BFA in Painting and Art Education from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and began her career as an artist, illustrator, and graphic designer in the advertising department of Dayton’s, a leading Minneapolis-based retailer. Later, she opened up her own studio working as a freelance artist and children’s book illustrator and taught at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD).
At YM, client projects often included opportunities for Miranda to create commissioned original paintings, murals, and portraits that inspired brand identity development, branded environments, marquee collateral, packaging, or were integrated into advertising campaigns. In an unusual turn, the artist Miranda Moss was commissioned to lead the major redesign of uniforms for Northwest Airlines cabin and flight deck crews and ground staff in 2005.
For a number of years, the agency’s own brand was inspired by and featured her original bold color and symbol filled painting, which expressed the agency’s mission of building brands through strategic insight and endless imagination.
In 2005 and again in 2011, the Minnetonka Center for the Arts, Wayzata, Minnesota, featured a solo exhibition of Miranda’s paintings, which continue to be shown as part of the Center’s collection. Sponsored by the Center, Miranda’s paintings were also on exhibit via Partners in Art at Ridgedale Center, where her work was seen by many thousands of visitors.
Retired and relocated to Kauai in 2009, Miranda focused exclusively on creating fine art paintings from her home studio. Her work continued to incorporate her signature bold colors and symbols as she explored new themes inspired by her island surroundings.
Miranda’s paintings can be found in corporate and private collections throughout the U.S.. Her recent work was featured at the Palms Gallery and Kalakoa Gallery in Kauai and is available through the Freeman Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and her own studio, in Kauai.