Welcome Madalyn: Brand Strategy Manager

We’re so thrilled to welcome fellow Build graduate Madalyn Knebel to our Build team as our Brand Strategy Manager! She will handle all design, marketing, and social media needs for our organization to keep us looking our best. Get to know Madalyn a little bit more in this Q&A.


Where were you born and raised?

I was born in California, raised in Michigan, but I’ve grown the most in Detroit.

What made you want the position of Brand Strategy Manager at Build Institute?

Five years ago when I moved to Detroit I discovered D:hive and loved how friendly and helpful the organization was. I wanted to produce design work for them as soon as they were on my radar. I thrive in alternative education and since childhood I wanted my own design firm, so when Build Institute developed within D:hive I couldn’t wait to take a class. The thrill of my work serving a greater purpose of strengthening the community is an honor to be a part of.

What do you like most about your current job at Build?

There are so many things I love about my job at Build, and I’ve only just officially started! I am very thankful to have the opportunity to grow everyday personally and professionally, independently and within our evolving team.

Madalyn arranging food for a photoshoot. Photo by FYT Productions

What is your design background?

I’ve been creative since I was young and initially had aspirations of being a fine artist, but that field is intimidating. Architecture sparked my interest because of its impact on the human experience so I initially pursued that at Lawrence Technological University. While studying at LTU I explored graphic design, film photography, and sustainable design. After a few years I stepped back from those studies to shift my gears towards Product Design at College for Creative Studies, but again ultimately wasn’t satisfied with that path. I realized I loved typography and graphic design and started independently educating myself and taking on small projects. Then about two years ago I started diving into set, prop, and food styling for commercial photography. Like graphic design it allows me to use my eye to compose compelling stories and share information. No matter what medium I use I’ve always desired to honor both form and function through design.

Do you own a small business?

Absolutely! I am the one-woman show at Madalyn Knebel Design – a boutique creative consulting and brand identity firm. I help small businesses and organizations tell stories through graphic design and photography. Though my business is comprised of only me, I am fortunate to have a network of creatives I collaborate with for client and portfolio-building projects.

Madalyn’s food styling for her Chromatic Cornucopia series. Photo by FYT Productions

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I am passionate about quite a few things… organic gardening, food and mixology, swing dancing, ballet, yoga, visiting museums, cruising on my bicycle, hunting for vintage treasures, and exploring Detroit’s underground music scene.

What do you love so much about Detroit?

This city has allowed me to challenge myself independently in so many ways. I am curious by nature, and I’ve been able to engage with new cultures, experiences, political issues, and more that has shaped my worldview. I value diversity, culture, and history – Detroit encompasses all of that and allows us the opportunity to assess those topics and challenges so we may be a global model of a successful, inclusive urban environment.

Madalyn and the rest of her Build 37 class

What is your favorite business-related quote or piece of advice?

F | false
E | evidence
A | appearing
R | real

This doesn’t sound like business advice, but let’s be honest; we all struggle with fears and their sometimes crippling effects. Keeping this in mind has helped me re-train my brain when self-doubt, unhealthy comparison, and other negative thought patterns have plagued me personally and professionally.

What are some of your big goals for 2016 with Build?

I look forward to further developing and refining Build’s brand identity, internally and publicly. Fellow Build grad Andy Kopietz of Good Done Daily did an astounding job with the initial branding. Mastering the art of Build’s social media campaigns to grow our network and impact the community is very important – I’m not simply after collecting more likes and followers that don’t yield true results. Though I love Build’s website, I would like to work on making it more consistent and mobile-friendly. One of the biggest projects this year will be gaining national and global press for our organization and graduates and I look forward to the challenge!

About the Author

Nikki is a Build graduate and the owner of Global Alliance Solutions, LLC, a diversity training and consulting company. She is also a nationally certified Global Career Development Facilitator, a member of the National Career Development Association, and a State of Michigan-certified mediator.

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  1. I am excited for you being here!. While being an alumni of BUIlD i am needing to figure out my next step for moving foward with my product branding and look forward to setting up some quality time to talk with you!….Congratulations and Welcome!

    Posted by Sheila M Palmer on

    • Hi Sheila! Aww thank you – I’m so excited too! We can certainly chat for a bit sometime. I love meeting fellow Build graduates!

      Posted by Madalyn Knebel on

  2. Congratulations Madalyn! Just when I thought the Build Institute could not get any better! I look forward to working with you.

    Posted by Scott Tallenger on

    • Thank you Scott! I’m so glad you’re part of the Build family. I can’t wait to get a Left-Handed jumpsuit someday & sport it around town!

      Posted by Madalyn Knebel on

  3. Madalyn knebel what a proud aunt i am!! So happy for your new venture! Your creative spirit will lead you to new places, always, but sounds like this will be a place to “leave your mark” in a.big way. Sending you much love and wishes for much success…they are lucky to have you on their team! I am thinking this is position is similar to what George just started doing. He has “stepped out” of ministry as of about 2 months ago. Love u!

    Posted by Ann Knebel on

    • Aww thank you Aunt Ann! I am very excited my work has a positive impact & that I am surrounded by inspiring people every day. Much love & well wishes to you & everyone else in Illinois!

      Posted by Madalyn Knebel on

  4. Congratulations, Maddie! You’ve come a long way from a church mouse!

    Posted by Tom Prochaska on

    • Thank you Tom! Build is part of the reason I am where I am today, aside from my job!

      Posted by Madalyn Knebel on

  5. A bright, enigmatic up and coming creative force in Detroit. Madalyn’s charming presence graced our runway and television promos two years ago with Detroit By Design. She’s been rocking our world ever since. Congratulations Madalyn! Keep up the good work. 🙂

    Posted by Rich Rice, Detroit By Design on

    • Thank you for your very kind words Rich! I am glad you are part of my creative cohort & look forward to seeing you around town soon!

      Posted by Madalyn Knebel on

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