The Mission

To Transform Small Businesses Into Sustainable Brands

Who

My name is Michael Kerwin. I am an independent Creative Consultant, Identity Designer, and the Principal of Phonographik Brand Identity Studio.

Earlier in my career I was a generalist, casting a wide net in the creative field to work with as many different types of clients and disciplines as possible, in order to obtain the broadest experience.

To date, I’ve collaborated with small businesses, nonprofits, solo entrepreneurs, corporations, and other creative advertising and marketing agencies as an in-house and freelance Graphic Designer, Illustrator, Web Designer and Developer, Art Director, and Creative Director.

My business name was inspired by my deep love of music and visual design, the aesthetic quality of vintage, phonograph record players, and the sound quality of vinyl over digital: phono = audio, graphik = visual. The name as a whole, stands for quality, precision, and groove. The stylized “r” in the logo represents a record needle stylus and arm.

Michael Kerwin -- Principal of Phonographik Brand Identity Studio
Michael Kerwin / Principal

What

I develop creative strategies and design solutions for new and growing small businesses (future brands), to help them stand out in the marketplace and become sustainable brands.

Today I’m a specialist. Over the past five years, I’ve intentionally narrowed and specialized my expertise into brand strategy and identity design (and the integral parts that go with it: naming, messaging, packaging, websites). Because when it comes down to it, a foundation first needs to be strong before anything it supports can be alignable and sustainable.

I still remain flexible with the types of industries I serve. Overall, I seek small businesses of all stripes because I can work directly with decision makers, which creates more fluid and efficient communication, resulting in better outcomes.

Why

Why work with me over a traditional agency?

01. Mission & Purpose

My business mission and purpose is to transform small businesses into sustainable brands through creative business strategy and identity design. I first seek to truly understand my customers inside and out before I design anything. I also don’t work with just anyone, because the right collaborative fit is as crucial to success as the plan created to meet the business’s goals.

02. Experience

For 20+ years, I’ve been partnering with businesses across the United States to solve creative problems through identity design, print and digital design, advertising, marketing, and creative business strategy. And I still learn something new everyday through continued education and writing about my craft. Real-world business and life experience, matters, especially when taking on the large responsibility of creating a business’s formal identity.

03. Process

To guarantee successful outcomes, I follow a highly-organized work process that I’ve developed through many years of experience and education. View this Project Alignment Guide to learn more.

04. Cost

I offer the same expertise as larger creative agencies, yet I’m more cost effective and flexible because I primarily work independently, resulting in lower overhead and zero bureaucracy. But every business has their own unique challenges, needs, and goals, so there is no one-size-fits-all cost solution. Because of this, I provide custom, per project pricing only after I fully understand a client’s needs.

05. Results

My experience, process, and passion for my craft allow me to achieve successful outcomes that are objective, measurable, and sustainable. As positioning expert, David C. Baker says, “It’s hard to read the label when you’re inside the bottle.” Meaning, when you’re fully involved in running your business everyday, your views on who you are and who needs you can become biased and skewed over time. So having an outside, objective perspective is beneficial to everyone.

Where

Myself and Phonographik were born, raised, and currently live on the beautiful east side of Madison, Wisconsin, just 10 miles due east of Madison’s vibrant and creative downtown and hub of political discourse. Here you can experience amazing architecture, fine-dining, kick-ass live music, nature, and civil protests, all within a few blocks of each other. Austin has nothing on Madison.