We build value for brands and businesses.

LEVEL Brand is an advertising and brand strategy firm based in Minneapolis. For more than 25 years, LEVEL has been helping companies like yours with strategic thinking, brand building, and advertising and marketing communications. We create value by helping you inspire customer loyalty, increase revenue, and sustain profitable growth. So we provide a full range of strategic, creative, media, and PR services, along with proprietary tools, to help you achieve your goals.

Our Leadership

  • John Foley

    Principal Brand Strategist

    John is the founder, CEO, and driving force of LEVEL. His focus is helping organizations align business practices that develop sound brand architecture, positioning, value propositions, reputation platforms, and more effective marketing strategies. His experience in this area inspired him to write a book, Balanced Brand. John has applied his insights to work for American Express, Beckman Coulter, Boldt, Cargill, Coca-Cola USA, FICO, GMAC, Medica, Pearson and Tiffany & Co. He is an active member of the Minneapolis advertising community, and has served on the boards of Carlson Brand Enterprise at the University of Minnesota, the Design Institute, and the Reputation Institute. He is a frequent keynote speaker for international trade organizations and a guest lecturer at universities.

  • Lois Dirksen

    Principal Brand Strategist

    Lois understands the business of business like no one else. She has worked with Fortune 500 companies as diverse as Verizon, AT&T, Beckman Coulter, MBNA, FICO, Target, Bombardier, Timken, Pearson, the New York City Leadership Academy, Discover, AQS, Boldt, Dunwoody College of Technology, TKDA, and 3M.

    She knows her way around entrepreneurial firms, too. Her past successes include growing a start-up direct marketing company to one of the top 25 in its category, named one of Business Journal's "25 Fastest Growing Small Public Companies" and "Fastest Growing Company". While Lois was Executive Vice President, Venture magazine ranked the company as one of the "Top 10 Best Performing Businesses" and it received Quebec's IDE Counseil Coup de Coeur Award.

    Lois helps our clients develop and align marketing communications strategies for traditional and emerging markets, locally, nationally, internationally, or anywhere in the solar system.

  • Kim Thelen

    Vice President,
    Strategic Planning/Client Service

    Kim is the Account Person Of Your Dreams. Focused. Dedicated. Smart. And always on top of things, with the right strategy at the right time. Her past experience includes work with American Express Financial Advisors, Beckman Coulter, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Grand Casinos, Lawson Software, Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota State Lottery, Mystic Lake Casino, and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Kim was once on the client side herself; so she has walked in your shoes. That experience drives her dedication on behalf of our clients, and has helped her create a culture of client service like nowhere else. She strives to be the kind of agency person that she herself would have wanted to work with.

  • Gregg Byers

    Creative Director

    Gregg is relentless - constantly chewing at the heels of a better idea. Breathing life into strategy. Changing perceptions. Looking to tell our clients' stories in new and important ways. As an art director and creative director, his advertising work for such clients as Breathe Right, Carnival Cruises, Chrysler, Florida Lottery, Grand Casinos, Mattress Giant, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and Target has earned awards at top advertising shows. His work for Hormel was honored in the prestigious Cannes International Advertising Festival. Before coming to LEVEL, Gregg worked at BBDO and Carmichael Lynch among others, and was an instructor at the Miami Ad School.

  • Laura Shiue

    Vice President,
    Strategic Marketing Media

    Laura's career at LEVEL spans from 2G cell phones to cloud computing. She arrived at LEVEL primed with tons of agency experience in media research, planning and buying. Laura's experience spans a diverse range of clients, including AgriBank/Farm Credit Services, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, First Bank Systems, Grand Casinos, Harley-Davidson, Lawson Software, McDonald's, and Winnebago. She also led media ideas at Best Buy during the meteoric ascendancy of that Fortune 500 franchise. Her three favorite words are engagement, engagement, engagement and engagement. That's four - but Laura threw in the last one as added value.

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Our Clients

We've had the privilege of working with over 130 clients since 1986: leaders in health care, financial and business services, retail/entertainment and membership organizations. Some of our largest clients have stayed with us the longest.

    • Health
    • 3M
    • American Heart Association
    • Beckman Coulter
    • Bluecross of MN
    • Bluecross Blueshield of Montana
    • Childrens Cancer Research Fund
    • Get your Rear in Gear
    • Hazelden
    • Healthsense
    • Medica
    • Medtronic
    • North Memorial
    • St. Josephs Hospital
    • United Health Group
    • Financial and Business Services
    • Retail/Arts & Entertainment
    • Technology
    • Beckman Coulter
    • Education/Publishing
Building Brand book by John Foley


Balanced Brand: How to Balance the Stakeholder Forces That Can Make Or Break Your Business, by John Foley is about the powerful idea of aligning corporations with the personal values of key stakeholders, to achieve long-term growth and sustainability.