Graduate Brand Design and Strategy





As human beings, we form tribes. These can be racial, regional, cultural, familial, or socio-economic. In MDes Brand/Culture/Anthropology we examine Consumer insights, society, tribes, and ethics including cultural appropriation and diversity.

Students will plan research projects, data collection, and analysis of individuals, groups, and mass behaviors. From these findings, the student can leverage consumer psychology and surgically precise messaging. We will analyze strategic insights of consumers and their behaviors, evaluate consumer understanding, and explore insights about individual user journeys & societal shifts.

Finally, we create dynamic and relevant insight documents to build personas and consumer briefs.

Branding and Design History


Learning from the pioneers of communication design: Past, Present, and Future. Understand the history of branding by learning from the pioneers of communication design. Learn of the origin of branding:

  • "Ancient Greece to 18th-century porcelain.
  • The rise of identity and brand communication in the first and second industrial revolutions.
  • European modernism and mass-market branding.
  • Understand American corporate identity 1940–1980.
  • The rise of the “personal” brand with social media

Branding Futures


How will brands live in future landscapes and how might we communicate in this space? Here we design transmedia brand tactics and strategies for new platforms, societal, and technological shifts.

  • Understand brand communications and consumer touchpoints platforms in a transmedia world
  • Explore the digital landscape and its impact on brands
  • Analyze big data, algorithms, and machine learning
  • Understand social media content and brand influencers
  • Analyze augmented and virtual reality experience
  • Design with and for AI systems - how might this change the industry and how to leverage
  • Discuss - could we, should we, and why implications for good or evil.

Branding Lab 1


Students will participate in shared graduate seminars, guest speakers, workshops, and professional mentorship.

Branding Lab 2


Students will participate in shared graduate seminars, guest speakers, workshops, and professional mentorship.

Branding Lab 3


Students will participate in shared graduate seminars, guest speakers, workshops, and professional mentorship.

Branding Seminar 1


Learning through the eyes of Chief Creative Officers and the lessons they learned through hard-fought business and design strategies that worked and or failed.

Manage brands with internal and external partners and stakeholders at a global level. Innovate design-led organizations. Process methodologies & research. Practice gut/intuitive methodology. Encourage fearless leadership. Analyze case studies (CCO-led).

Branding Seminar 2


This course is centered on Brand Leadership. Analyzing internal and external brand alignment for global business initiatives of products and services is critical. Students also identify common leadership and managerial challenges throughout the organizational life cycle (pre-launch to maturity).

  • Align internal and external integration strategies
  • Understand global brand portfolio
  • Analyze global brands
  • Manage not invented here strategies
  • Explore corporate and Startup thinking
  • Explore team formation, development, and growth

Branding Studio 1


Students will develop strategic models and concepts for a global brand in this course. This includes working with the process of brand and design strategy to mastering the art of design proposals. We will articulate the vision applying a strategic brand and design framework with concrete examples demonstrating the understanding of branding and innovation strategy principles. In short, we make an idea real.

Students will explore and create with Brand Building in this course by analyzing internal and external audits, competition, features, and benefits analysis. We will investigate and synthesize research materials, review the business objectives of the brand plan, determine strategic options, design the identity and application to the 360 brand touchpoint, and execute brand and marketing integration.

Branding Studio 2


Continuing work from MDes Branding Studio 1, we work with global branding strategies including an understanding of the cultural context in local, regional, and global markets. This requires a deep understanding of the cultural landscape and the ability to explore local and regional community influences.

The course also examines regional and sociological understanding of the cultural meaning of a brand. We will manage strategies for social, political, environmental issues, and design and execute a set of deliverables on our findings.

Business and Branding


The Business of Branding: Why one cannot exist without the other and reinforce the financial implications of executing on the plan.

We will examine key business drivers, consumer desire, rational vs. emotional benefits, and the bottom line. Evaluate the importance of HR, IT, Marketing, Sales, Operations, and R&D. Leverage internal business teams to effectively work with key stakeholders. Influence and persuade. Sell an idea effectively to critical stakeholders that affect change and show a financial impact. Track design business implications for building credibility as a design leader. Evaluate a business problem and identify appropriate analytic techniques to apply. Demonstrate the use of tools for visualizing data from the analysis techniques learned in the course.

Capstone Project


The Capstone project will execute a global brand initiative. This project may be self-initiated or paired with an external project or organization. The student will create a high level presentation of deliverables articulating the vision through the application of a strategic brand and design framework with concrete examples demonstrating the understanding of branding and innovation strategy principles through execution of vision.

  1. Virtual presentation space.
  2. Presentation deck.
  3. Research models.
  4. Insights and opportunities.
  5. Brand strategy.
  6. Design strategy.
  7. Strategic roadmap.
  8. Leadership plan.
  9. Management and roll out plan
  10. Design solutions.

Design Research and Strategy


This course explores understanding the use of research and observations. We explore and learn how to recognize insights and opportunities by exploring various research models into human behaviors, trends, and societal shifts in defining viable strategies.

  • In Design Research and Strategy, we will investigate and model:
  • Measure and evaluate information
  • Conduct primary and secondary research
  • Analyze and synthesize the findings of the brand
  • Measure effectiveness and insights
  • Evaluate consumer and audience insights
  • Observe consumer journeys, articulate your research through design
  • Create persuasive and compelling presentations in multiple formats.

Systemic Thinking


Research, strategy, and an excellent communication concept can only succeed if it is embraced internally. In this course, we investigate how to influence and create the culture for a brand: its purpose and meaning within the organization. We will develop brand rollout systems and the onboarding of individuals, teams, and external partners by creating simple systems through the use of technologies that noncreatives can follow and implement the brand culture. We will also design fixed, flexible, and “open” systems to work with and inspire creative innovations within the organization and its partners. Students will explore types of systems that can be utilized for effective use and brand governance: build and leverage brand ambassadors/team for guidance. The course also incorporates new technology and artificial intelligence brand systems.

Writing for Brand


Articulating the Brand Message through Words & Visual. Writing and visualizing effectively for your brand’s audience to help clarify the positioning, the message, and personality.

Tie the messaging strategy with the brand. Write content for traditional and non-traditional media for a global market. Think like a screenwriter in storytelling for an internal and external audience. Name methodologies, naming systems, products, and services to communicate the brand promise and message. Understand different components of a compelling visual and verbal communications strategy.

Total Required Units