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Personal Profile



Kyle S. Barnes




Kyle Barnes, originally hailing from Detroit, Michigan, epitomizes the universality of creative ideas with his profound insight into their power to transcend cultures, markets, and technologies. This accomplished Creative Services Director has shaped a career marked by a relentless pursuit to uncover the human truths behind every concept, driving deep connections across diverse audiences. His multifaceted expertise spans graphic design, advertising, marketing, branding, digital media, product design, and entertainment, underscoring his commitment to storytelling and community building.


Raised on Detroit's east-side, Kyle turned to the arts following the tragic loss of his mother. This pivotal moment, supported by his grandmother's encouragement to join youth art classes and later, the College of Creative Studies, steered him towards interning and later founding an airbrushing studio during high school in the local Eastland Mall. Kyle's academic achievements at Michigan State University, where he earned a BA in Advertising with a specialization in Graphic Design, were highlighted by multiple Student Mid-Michigan Addy awards.


Kyle's career advanced from a Graphic Designer to Brand Manager at CASE Credit Union, and later to significant roles as a Art Director at Lansing Community College and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, where he played a key role in the Pure Michigan campaign. His leadership in these roles enhanced Michigan's appeal in travel and business sectors, laying a solid foundation for his later work. These accomplishments and continued success lead Kyle towards his most challenging position to that date as the Director of Design for Michigan State University Athletics Department. Kyle’s visionary approach profoundly shaped the branding and marketing strategies for Spartan sports, significantly impacting various athletic programs such as Football, Mens and Women’s Basketball, Baseball, Volleyball and Gymnastics delivering a consistent branding presence, increased fan pride and engagement as well as overall appeal against other competing collegiate sports sports departments throughout the country. 


Transitioning from the Director of Design for Michigan State University Athletics, Kyle now leads Urban Ad Shop, a multicultural advertising agency he founded to champion Black-owned and diverse businesses. Here, Kyle's vision is to deliver professional-grade visual solutions that foster respect, pride, and confidence, ensuring these businesses compete on equal footing within the industry.


Kyle's leadership at Urban Ad Shop and his ongoing role as a mentor reflect his profound dedication to fostering diversity and inclusion. His work—ranging from high-profile projects with McDonald's, Nike, BET, and Stellar TV to impactful community engagements—demonstrates a commitment to elevating the narratives of underrepresented communities through innovative marketing and design.


An active member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., and a mentor to black youth, Kyle’s personal and professional life showcases his passion for nurturing future leaders and advocating for social equity, making him a pivotal figure in both his community and the creative industry.


Sept. 2019 - Present




Anchored diverse creative teams in the creation and execution of comprehensive multimedia campaigns for clients like UPMC, Comcast, and The Pittsburgh Foundation. Integrated video, audio, and digital content, aligning with client objectives to enhance brand visibility and market presence. Pioneered innovative creative content strategies, including website design, digital media, video production, print, out-of-home, and social media campaigns for public and private sector clients. These strategies led to increased engagement and client satisfaction, particularly with organizations such as the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and the YWCA. Motivated and inspired creative teams, fostering an environment of innovation and adaptability, resulting in the development of award-winning multimedia content and elevating diverse voices in projects for clients such as Allegheny County Health Department. Established and nurtured strong relationships with a diverse client base, including nonprofits like the Women and Girls Foundation and corporate entities like PJ Dick-Trumbull-Lindy, understanding their unique needs and delivered tailored multimedia solutions that drove their marketing success and supported community development goals.

Aug. 2017 - Aug. 2022



Spearheaded the revitalization of both physical and digital visual elements, significantly contributing to the rebranding of the Athletic Department and major power-five athletic programs including Football, Men's and Women's Basketball, Baseball, Softball, Volleyball, and Gymnastics. My portfolio showcases extensive work in fan engagement campaigns, complete facility branding, large-scale publications, player awards, and major event promotions, along with targeted direct mail and robust social media and email marketing strategies. Orchestrated the complete revitalization of branding and design across 25 collegiate and Olympic athletic programs, leading design and creative teams to develop unified and innovative visual narratives, thereby elevating brand visibility on all platforms. My holistic approach encompassed streamlining event marketing, facility branding, and consumer-focused direct marketing campaigns, coupled with the execution of wide-reaching print and digital advertising strategies, resulting in significant enhancement of brand consistency and market impact. Staying ahead of digital trends and market shifts was a constant priority, as was seeking out opportunities to elevate our brand awareness. I also took pride in mentoring designers across various programs, helping them enhance their skills and leadership abilities in various domains. Three of my design protégés have climbed to key leadership positions at prestigious institutions like Yale University, Topps Sporting Cards, and within organizations such as the Detroit Lions and the City of Detroit, showcasing the impact of my mentorship efforts.

May 2016 - July 2017



As Team Lead, I spearheaded the revitalization of major Michigan business attraction websites and campaigns, including Pure Michigan, Detroit Grand Prix, PlanetM,, and Collaborating with McCann-Erickson's design team, I directed the creative strategy and execution for print, digital, and out-of-home campaigns. Composed and overseen campaign/wire-frame and prototype development, content creation (including copywriting, photography, video production, and infographic design), while managing project workflow. I ensured seamless communication among the executive marketing director, board of directors, government officials, and stakeholders, effectively aligning our creative vision with organizational goals. Played a pivotal role in creating and implementing powerful branding visuals and strategies to position Michigan as a premier destination for business, job opportunities, and community growth. This involved orchestrating event marketing, designing displays, conducting both consumer and business-to-business direct marketing, executing print and digital campaigns, and managing out-of-home advertising initiatives. Acted as a visual consultant for internal teams, external vendors, and contractors, ensuring alignment in visual and strategic communication. Provided expert critique and guidance in the collaborative efforts between MEDC and advertising client McCann-Erickson for the Pure Michigan Business campaign, fostering a cohesive and effective business attraction strategy.

Aug. 2014 - May 2016



As a project manager and leader of various creative teams, I seamlessly orchestrated the creative workflow for substantial internal and external college-wide campaigns, fostering a collaborative and efficient working environment. My leadership extended to a diverse team, including designers, copywriters, web developers, photographers, and print vendors, ensuring all projects met their deadlines and quality standards. Took charge of the art direction, actively participating in the hands-on creation of a wide array of design materials. This ranged from web and digital assets to print publications, outdoor advertising, and apparel for comprehensive college-wide campaigns. Engaged with various college departments, organizations, and events, ensuring a consistent and high-quality visual representation across all platforms. Played a pivotal role in campaign presentations and pitching new ideas, confidently stepping in to represent or support the Creative Director as needed. My ability to articulate creative concepts and strategies effectively ensured the success and smooth execution of various campaigns and initiatives. One of my significant achievements was spearheading the “STARPOWER” external student engagement rebranding and brand equality campaign. This initiative not only introduced a refreshed identity system but also strategically repositioned the college, capturing a substantial market share of the recent high school graduate or senior including adult learning demographics . The campaign played a crucial role in attracting and retaining students from Generations X, Y, and the Millennials.


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