SIXTY volume 24

Page 1

Brandcenter Mission





brandcenter mission


THANK YOU: Chris Cole (AD, 2021), Adam DuBrueler (AD, 2021), Michelle Greeley (AD, 2021), Emilee Lampert (CBM, 2021), Payal Pereira (ST, 2021), Evan Shisler (CW, 2021), Marshal Turner (XD, 2021) DESIGNER: Diana Ojibway (AD, 2002)

CREATIVE DIRECTOR: KT Schaeffer (AD, 2001) EDITOR: Sarah Murphy

COPY EDITORS: Emma Barone, Rachel Ensing, Ashley Sommardahl (ST, 1998), Shannon Wilke

general info concentraion highlights

02 04 05 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 14 15 16 17 19 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47 49 53 55 57 61 63 71 72 73 75 77 79 83 87 88 89 91 93 95 98

student experience

table of contents


Brandcenter Mission Letter From the Director Overview and Curriculum Class of 2022 Infographic RVA Magazine Feature Tuition and Scholarships Pop-Up Shop and Giving Staff and Faculty Alumni Professors of Practice Director’s Council Featured Member: Khartoon Weiss Featured Member: Kristen Cavallo Alumni Info Alumni Entrepreneurs Alumni Career Pivots Curriculum Overview & Courses Art Direction (AD) AD Student Feature: David Ligon AD Work Copywriting (CW) CW Student Feature: Monica Roebuck CW Work Experience Design (XD) XD Student Feature: Sharon Byun XD Work Strategy (ST) ST Student Feature: Nana Dadzie ST Work Creative Brand Management (CBM) CBM Student Feature: Paige Majdic CBM Work Concentration Collaboration Collaborative Work Super Bowl Spots Awards and Recognition Life at the Brandcenter Friday Forums The Carriage House & Internships BCsprint Creativity Fueling Transformation Recruiter Session Brandcenter Executive Education Commencement Class of 2021 Student Websites 25 Years of Brandcenter Admissions

“In these uncertain, unprecedented, unpredictable times…” may have been the comically overused catch phrase of 2020, but the sentiment rings true. This year demonstrated the importance of flexibility; that the ability to pivot is critical not just as we continue to navigate the ongoing pandemic, but as we navigate the new world, collectively emerging from our separate cocoons. Flexibility guides our polymathic approach to preparing students for their creative fields. In today’s society, we have to think beyond a single skill or area of concentration, ensuring our students possess skill dexterity. After sixty weeks at the Brandcenter, our students emerge as skilled problem-solvers, each wielding a powerful arsenal of knowledge and talents with which to navigate the uncertain, the road less traveled. At the Brandcenter, we recognize and respect the fact that our world is always evolving. How we communicate, work, and create has evolved over the last year and will continue to do so. Change is the constant. It is within that context that we help our students find and utilize their unique superpowers to stand out, rather than train them how to fit in. Our students are taught to step out of their comfort zone and do more than the bare minimum. The Brandcenter is not for the faint of heart. It’s for those who want to step up, step out, and lead. It’s for those who want to go beyond the well-worn path and make a difference. In this year’s SIXTY, you will see an incredible range of creativity, strategy, and resiliency, which is more than a formula, it is the expectation. You will also see how Brandcenter alumni embrace the idea that nothing is carved in stone, letting their skills and experiences lead them down new and sometimes unexpected paths following graduation. It’s remarkable to see how each student interprets their learnings in different ways, using their superpowers to continuously create and carve out their part in this ever-changing world. Within our collaborative environment we are reminded to stay open-minded because real debates on perspective are the key to creativity. We learn to have and prioritize the hard conversations because those hard conversations lead to results. That’s the essence of being a polymath— you learn, unlearn, and relearn; you stretch, push, and pull. When applied to Brandcenter graduates, it is within their nature to remain flexible and agile, and in preparing them for that, they are prepared for anything.

R. Vann Graves Executive Director

letter from the director


overview and curriculum


OVERVIEW The Brandcenter is a two-year, full-time master’s program for students interested in careers in marketing, advertising, branding, communications, and innovation. We are not a portfolio school; Brandcenter graduates gain a Master of Science degree in business in addition to a robust portfolio of creative work to hit the ground running.

AREAS OF STUDY Brandcenter students concentrate in one of five areas of study: Art Direction (AD), Copywriting (CW), Experience Design (XD), Strategy (ST), or Creative Brand Management (CBM). They study within their chosen concentration, as well as collaboratively across concentrations on team projects that culminate in presentations to faculty, peers, and real-world clients.





Concept Development Craft for ADs User Participation Platforms

Brand Experiences Creative Fusion Portfolio Development Experimentation

Innovation Persuasion Advanced Portfolio for ADs

Concept Development Craft for CWs Brand Engagement

Brand Experiences Creative Fusion Portfolio Development Experimentation

Innovation Persuasion Advanced Portfolio for CWs

Strategy + Design Visual Storytelling User Participation Platforms

Brand Experiences Creating Gravitational Pull Physical Computing II Experimentation

Innovation Persuasion Advanced Portfolio for XDs

Strategy + Design Persuasion for STs Comms Planning + UX Visual Storytelling + Design

Brand Experiences Creative Fusion Cultural Impact: Advanced Account Planning

Innovation Creating Gravitational Pull Advanced Portfolio for STs

Brand Experiences Persuasion for CBMs Advanced Brand Management

Innovation Applied Brand Management Advanced Portfolio for CBMs

AD Art Direction The Business of Branding Creative Thinking Visual Storytelling Problem Solving for ADs

CW Copywriting The Business of Branding Creative Thinking Visual Storytelling Problem Solving for CWs

XD Experience Design The Business of Branding Creative Thinking Craft for XDs Physical Computing I

ST Strategy The Business of Branding Creative Thinking Strategic Thinking Craft for STs

CBM Creative Brand Management The Business of Branding Creative Thinking Strategic Thinking Research Methodologies

Brand Analytics Accounting Brand Design for Brand Mgrs. Craft for CBMs

Cross-Collaboration Classes SEMESTER 1:




The Business of Branding (ALL CONCENTRATIONS) Creative Thinking (ALL CONCENTRATIONS) Visual Storytelling (AD + CW) Strategic Thinking (ST + CBM)

Concept Development (AD + CW) Strategy + Design (XD + ST) User Participation Platforms (AD + XD)

Brand Experiences (ALL CONCENTRATIONS) Creative Fusion (AD, CW, + ST) Portfolio Development (AD + CW) Experimentation (AD, CW, + XD)

Innovation (ALL CONCENTRATIONS) Persuasion (AD, CW, + XD)

overview and curriculum



class of 2022 infographic




64% Female 34% Male 2% Undisclosed 44% Self-identified as people of color


Art Direction Copywriting Experience Design Strategy Creative Brand Management



Advertising Business Communications Design Marketing




Photo by KT Schaeffer (AD,


# OF STUDENTS AD - 21 CW - 14 XD - 18 ST - 22 CBM - 19



Representing 20 states + 4 countries



RVA Magazine - December 23, 2020

In a dark year, Richmond’s creative scene is shining bright. A triple threat success from The Martin Agency, Arts & Letters, and the VCU Brandcenter has strengthened Richmond’s status as an epicenter for creativity. It’s no exaggeration. For the first time in over a decade, The Martin Agency has been awarded Adweek’s U.S. Agency of the Year, one of the highest accolades in the advertising industry. Newcomer Arts & Letters ranked #5 of Fastest Growing Agencies in the World, along with being named one of the Top 50 Best Places to Work in the U.S. And the VCU Brandcenter reported a record 26 alumni who contributed to 18 different Super Bowl commercials this year, solidifying the school’s reputation as the preeminent graduate program for creative problem solving. Clearly, Richmond is doing something right. And yet, we always have been. For years, everyday Richmonders have been working to help this city come into its own. You can see their efforts in our incredible street murals, artisan stores, craft breweries, top-notch restaurants, and buzzing entrepreneurial scene. Creativity abounds. Read the full article:

rva magazine feature


tuition and scholarships


tuition rates + university fees 2020/2021 Academic Year Annual Tuition and Fees In-State: $25,863 Out-of-State: $26,553



In 2020, a total of 31 scholarships were awarded to Brandcenter students, ranging in amounts from $500-$17,700. Incoming students apply for scholarships during the application process and have the opportunity to apply for other awards in their second year. We also share information about additional outside scholarship opportunities for students throughout the year. Approximately 70% of Brandcenter students are financing their education with federal Graduate Direct and Graduate PLUS Loans. In addition to loans and scholarships, many of our students finance their education by working part-time through a Graduate Assistantship on campus, or by taking on freelance work (we share opportunities with students throughout the year).

partners/sponsors Our students have the opportunity to work with and learn from national brands. Here are just a few of our partners from 2020-2021.

Each year, we are blown away by the continued support we receive from our #BrandFam. Alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends of the Brandcenter give back to the program in a variety of ways, such as through endowed scholarships, project sponsorships, and our Pop-Up Shop event. Funds are used to support student scholarships and building enhancements, among other things. To learn more about giving, visit

pop-up shop and giving


Following our new brand identity launch, the 2020 Pop-Up Shop (coined the “Popshop”) offered an assortment of gear bearing the new Brandcenter logo. All proceeds from the Shop went to support student scholarships and the student organization, Brandcentral.


Being willing to follow your idea, your gut, and your curiosity—wherever it might take you.

staff and faculty

- Rachel Ensing, Director of Recruitment + Admissions


It’s all about rising to the challenge in times of adversity. Adversity reveals character, and there’s no doubt this past year has been full of adversity. I’m beyond proud of the character the Class of 2021 has displayed in their ability to adapt and turn all of the COVID curveballs into home runs. - Ashley Sommardahl, Associate Director

Ho w


yo u


Professor, CBM Professor, Strategy and CBM Adjunct Professor, CBM Adjunct Professor, CBM Professor, Persuasion Adjunct Professor, CBM Professor, Creative Professor, Creative Professor, Creative Professor, Experience Design Adjunct Professor, CBM Adjunct Professor, Creative Adjunct Professor, CBM Adjunct Professor, Creative Adjunct Professor, CBM Professor, Strategy Professor, Creative Professor, Creative Professor, Visual Storytelling

de f

Executive Director Assistant Director of Student Affairs Network Analyst Director of Recruitment + Admissions Sr. Director of Brandcenter Finance Communications + Marketing Manager Designer in Residence IT Support Specialist Office Manager Associate Director Administrative Assistant Executive Coordinator


f l e xi

bili ty?

Call it ‘flexibility,’ ‘neuroplasticity,’ ‘elasticity’ ...our brains change, adapt, and reorganize when faced with uncertainty. For example: a child’s brain is elastic. To watch it work is fantastic. Everything is new, so the brain figures out what to do. What if we solved adult problems like a child? Old problems would look new. The answer to red, might be blue. A new idea might shine through. And to think, that idea could come from you! - Andrew LeVasseur, Professor

I would offer up ‘humility.’ I think that having humility and being able to entertain the possibility that you are wrong is a huge part of being flexible. That goes for working with clients, directors, or partners. Have enthusiasm for your ideas. But be humble and acknowledge sometimes that what you thought was a great idea may not turn into a great idea after all. Be humble enough to move on and enthusiastically contribute to a path that might be someone else’s idea. A lot of great things happen when you don’t really mind who gets credit. - Tom Scharpf, Professor

The first thing that comes to mind is ‘pivot.’ In sports, a player will pivot to block a shot or to get open air to catch the ball. As we all know, companies, stores, schools all had to pivot to change their operations this past year. A pivot might be in response to change, to take advantage of a change or to open up a new playing field. - Caley Cantrell, Professor

THESE ALUMS COULDN’T GET ENOUGH OF THE BRANDCENTER. They’re back to share their knowledge and expertise as professors.

Definitely the fresh thinking that you get from the students and faculty. I love being in a creative environment that is filled with optimism and possibilities! - Allison Duffee (ST, 2001)


Stop trying to be anyone else or impress anyone else. Creativity is an exercise in individuality. Being unique is not just a quality but a requirement to be successful here. - Rick Plautz (AD, 2014)


Go after the projects no one else wants. - Jordan Childs (CBM, 2009)



Slides are not the presentation, you are.

There is this unbridled sense of possibility at the Brandcenter and it is contagious. I love the energy of people searching for new-to-the-world ideas and what that energy inspires in me.

- Jeremy Paredes (CBM, 2011)

- Rian Chandler-Dovis (CBM, 2017)

alumni professors of practice



director’s council


The Brandcenter Director’s Council is comprised of brand leaders and visionaries from some of today’s most innovative businesses. Serving as a direct link to the business world, our Director’s Council members are committed to helping prepare students to lead the workforce of tomorrow. Their insights and support are integral to our mission, as they regularly spot opportunities and provide recommendations for program development.

DIRECTOR’S COUNCIL BRAD BLONDES VP, Global Brand Creative & Design - MetLife KRISTEN CAVALLO CEO - The Martin Agency MICHAEL CHANEY President & COO - Sephina Spirits CARL DESIR Director of Inclusion Strategy - Netflix HERMON GHERMAY Global Chief Culture Officer - Mediabrands AMBER GUILD President - T Brand / The New York Times BEN HUGHES VP / Creative - Squarespace SLOANE HUMPHREY Head of B2B Marketing Communications & Industry Relations North America TikTok HOWARD JORDAN, JR. TV Writer / Producer - CBS, Netflix & BET (CW,1999) DARYL LEE Global CEO - Mediabrands VAL MIDDLETON Head of Marketing - Curry Brand - Under Armour PAM KIECKER ROYALL Head of Research, Enrollment Services - EAB PETER SHERMAN Executive Vice President - Omnicom Group SHERICE GUILLORY TORRES VP of Marketing - Facebook KHARTOON WEISS Head of Global Agency & Accounts - TikTok RICH WHALEN Managing Director - Deloitte Digital ALI WYSONG Account Executive - Waze Brand Partnerships - Google


In a year rife with crisis and uncertainty, Martin has managed to help clients grow and achieve milestones, all while winning new brands, including Axe, Coinbase, and Old Navy.* Despite daunting challenges that left most agencies in the red, Martin posted 30% net growth in new and organic revenue, securing its selection as Adweek’s 2020 U.S. Agency of the Year. The IPG-owned agency has only won the honor once before, in 2009. It stood out as the only 2020 U.S. Agency of the Year finalist to report doubledigit growth to Adweek. Kristen Cavallo, CEO of The Martin Agency, says no one thing can explain the agency’s success in 2020. “Strategy and hard work would be my honest answer,” she says, though she also takes pride in the fact that 63% of Martin’s eight-person leadership team are women, and 37% are people of color.* “We are a living, breathing case study of what happens when you change the ratio of leadership at the top,” Cavallo says. Adweek by Minda Smiley. The full article can be found at

*Details updated from the original December 6, 2020 article to reflect most current information.

KHARTOON WEISS Head of Global Agency & Accounts - TikTok

Khartoon Weiss Translates TikTok for 20th-Century Businesses Khartoon Weiss knows there’s a disconnect between advertisers and Gen Z. It’s unavoidable from her perch as head of global agency and accounts at TikTok. Weiss views her role, which she started in August after a two-year stint at Spotify, like that of a translator between “predominantly 20th-century organizations” and the ultra-young users that dominate the social video app. For the first seven months of her tenure, she worked with brands and agencies to help them understand how their efforts can be “culturally relevant” to an audience that doesn’t care much for tradition. Weiss once wanted to be a doctor. “I like to caretake, and I like to fix,” she said, noting that while she didn’t end up going to medical school, she tries to apply that nurturing sensibility and problem-solving ethic to her work. “I’ve taken my career path as an education, not a series of jobs,” she said. “The goal here for me is how do I take that really holistic, empathetic view from the career and education that I’ve had” and apply that to TikTok’s business. Adweek by Scott Nover - April 5, 2021 The full article can be found at

featured director’s council members

The Martin Agency Is Adweek’s 2020 U.S. Agency of the Year


72andSunny AKQA Anomaly Arts & Letters Creative Co. barrettSF BBDO BBH Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners Code & Theory CP+B David & Goliath DDB Deutsch Droga5 Erich & Kallman Fallon Goodby, Silverstein & Partners GSD&M Heat Leo Burnett McCann McGarrah Jessee McKinney Media Arts Lab Mono Mother MullenLowe Ogilvy Olson Omelet Preacher R/GA Saatchi & Saatchi TBWA\Chiat\Day Terri & Sandy The Community The Martin Agency The Richards Group Translation Venables Bell & Partners VMLY&R VSA Partners Walrus Wieden+Kennedy Zambezi

Adobe Airbnb Amazon American Eagle Outfitters Apple Away Boeing Capital One CarMax Casper Chewy Chipotle Columbia Diageo Discover Disney Imagineering Duolingo Dyson Etsy Facebook Google Harry’s Hilton Worldwide IBM iX Interscope Records Kroger LinkedIn Lyft Marriott International Microsoft NBC Universal Nectar Nestle Nike Norwegian Cruise Lines Pinterest REI Riot Games Starbucks Target The Honest Kitchen Urban Outfitters Under Armour UNIQLO Zipcar




allumni info


Accenture Digital BCG Digital Ventures Brand Apart BrightHouse Bulletproof Bullish Butchershop clark mcdowall Co:Collective Collins Deloitte Digital Frog IDEO Joe Smith Brand Strategy Jones Knowles Ritchie Jump Associates Marks Part & Sum Pearlfisher Prophet Red Antler Redscout Siegel+Gale SingleStone Sterling Brands Sterling Rice Group Stink Studios SYLVAIN The Mom Complex VBP Orange West Ventures Zeus Jones




Michael Karnjanaprakorn (ST, 2006) Otis: The stock market for culture. Buy and sell shares of collectibles, sneakers, and art.

Emma Parry Spivey (XD, 2010) Her Royal Hempress: Spa-quality selfcare essentials infused with CBD.

Mira Kaddoura (AD, 2002) Red&Co: Agency with clients like Netflix, Adidas, lululemon, Google.

Stacy Thomas (ST, 2001) Good Run Research: Innovative approach to qual research. Clients like Wrigley, Capital One, Kraft, SC Johnson.

Jay Kamath (AD, 2007) Haymaker: Agency with clients like JanSport, Powerade, King’s Hawaiian, Reef. 2020 Small agency of the year, silver award.

Whitney Asher (ST, 2015) The Marketing Mixtape: Consultancy helping musicians market themselves.

Rachel Mercer (XD, 2012) Proto: Innovation Design Consultancy

Charles Merritt (XD, 2013) Buddy Insurance: On-demand accident insurance.

Raunak Munot (CBM, 2010) Trove Experiences: Curators of immersive local entertainment experiences. Bombay Shaving Company: Shave Club based in India, products enriched with superfood. Sold to P&G.

Charles Hodges (CW, 2009) Arts & Letters Creative Co.: Agency with clients like Google, ESPN, NBC. Top 5 Fastest Growing Agency in the World.

Tracy DeLuca (CW, 1998) How Might We Design?: A mental health and behavior change-focused innovation consultancy. Clients include: Headspace, The Steve Fund, Sutter Health.

alumni entrepreneurs

Where do you start when starting your own business? Any of these twelve alums would be good people to ask—each has grown a powerful idea into a successful business or nonprofit, and not one of them is like another. They do all have one thing in common, however: each business is fueled by a Brandcenter degree.

alumni pivots


In addition to their work at Netflix, Genie Gurnani is a drag artist who starred on the reality series “Drag Race Thailand.” Photo courtesy of Genie Gurnani. Credit:

CREATIVE IS A PERFORMANCE ART, AND I AM AN ENTERTAINER. - Genie Gurnani (ST, 2011) Head of Global Brand Creative, Netflix


Head of Global Brand Creative, Netflix Strategy Creative Genie has applied their background in strategy to a creative-minded career. In 2021 they were named Head of Global Brand Creative at Netflix. In addition to their day job, Genie is a drag artist who starred on the reality series “Drag Race Thailand” as well as a public service announcement for the 2020 Presidential Election.




This award-winning strategist is now an award-winning creative. Having worked in Melbourne, London, Rio, Copenhagen, and now as creative director at The New York Times in NYC, Haywood Watkins uses his complementary talents to create concepts that connect brands with their desired audience.


The agency world isn’t for everyone post-Brandcenter. In Edwin McClure’s case, he wanted something a little more… “bureau”-cratic. Enter the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), where Edwin draws from his background in strategy to manage the FBI’s social media and marketing efforts.


Copywriters have wit. Passion. A true way with words. When Claire Wyckoff isn’t flexing those skills in the ad world, she’s showcasing her eclectic creative background as a comedian. Find her comedy videos on TikTok: @claire_wyckoff


Historic yet modern; pastels accompanied by metallics. As a brand manager turned interior textile designer, Katie Kelley Harris (“KK”) embraces juxtaposition in her work, much like her unique background in historic preservation, studio art, and marketing.


After working as an art director for brands like Chobani and CNN, Raquel Langworthy turned her design eye to a different creative pursuit: photography. Her passion for visual storytelling led her to begin her own photography business, where she captures interiors, children, food, and decor.

alumni pivots

Brandcenter students study within their chosen concentration, but that doesn’t mean they can’t pivot post-grad. Our graduate program is designed to prepare students for a multitude of creative challenges that require flexibility, because careers can often lead to unexpected places.

CURRICULUM OVERVIEW Brandcenter students graduate with a master’s degree in business. But the sixty weeks here are nothing like what you’ll find in an ordinary business program.

curriculum overview


Our rigorous, real-world approach to graduate education means that our curriculum expands both outside of the classroom and after hours. Brandcenter students regularly put their learnings into practice for live clients. They’re encouraged to pursue, develop, and celebrate their “side hustles” alongside a faculty brimming with experience and insights. Courses are infused with opportunities to learn across concentrations and develop skills outside of a given specialty. Caley Cantrell, Brandcenter’s Curriculum & Learning Coordinator and Strategy Concentration Chair, says that the Brandcenter curriculum is fixed, yet flexible—qualities ultimately reflected in our graduates:

“It’s dynamic, always a work in progress, always evolving… we’re preparing our students for the worlds of marketing, advertising, innovation, communication, and design: careers that are ever-changing, so we aren’t afraid to adapt on the fly.”

BRND-622: VISUAL STORYTELLING Visual storytelling introduces students to the art and technical craft of creating concept-driven, effective visual stories for traditional broadcast outlets and newer, non-traditional viewing opportunities. Students get hands-on experience in concept development and scriptwriting. They learn how to create storyboards and shooting boards. Using these skills, students learn pre-production, production, and post-production techniques to execute creative, conceptually driven visual stories. Projects range from 30-second commercials, to 6-second pre-roll videos, to longer-form fiction and non-fiction stories. Watch these student videos on our YouTube channel: Visual Poetry - “If you Decide to Leave Brand Essence Video - “Black Men In Their Passion Project - “Quarantine” Someone” a poem by Miles Carter Best Light” CW: Chelsie Kelly AD: ShahRukh Tailor / CW: Ben Bashaw, Kat Worrall AD: ShahRukh Tailor, Cara Wolder / CW: Raven Faux

curriculum examples - visual storytelling


Independent Study Project - “Elaine’s Story” Independent Study Project - “Pizza and Place” Visual Poetry - “Coolest Dad” AD: Zeynep Aydogmus Masunu CW: Harrison Fuerst AD: Jess Leonard / CW: Tom Preston, Edo Ohayon

Video work doesn’t stop in visual storytelling. After learning the basics, students continue to sharpen their skills for other classes.

Credits - Top Row - AD: Ellen Veith / AD: Liam McKay, CW: Kevin Ma / AD: Zeynep Aydogmus Masunu Middle Row - AD: Sara Smokrovich, CW: Evan Shisler / AD: Zoe Alexander / AD: Katie Brents, CW: Scott Behrens Bottom Row - AD: Chrissy Boals, CW: Kate Power / AD: Grant Tolson, CW: Scott Behrens / AD: Liam McKay, CW: Jason Colliton

BRND-633: USER PARTICIPATION PLATFORMS (UPP) In User Participation Platforms (UPP), students create experiences for people (the user) that invite active participation with a brand, which are realized across multiple media and technology platforms.

curriculum examples - user participation platforms


In 2020-2021, UPP teams consisting of art directors and experience designers collaborated to imagine a future Olympic Games for a host region. They developed brand identity and visual design systems, communications and content, and interactive experiences using new media and technology platforms (AR, VR, MR). Students were asked to consider historic, cultural, contemporary, and popular themes as they worked to bring the Olympic games to life.







Mountain range: symbolic of nature A-Frame Houses: Function = Form

Twinflowers: Stockholm





header subtitles b o dy

Aurora green


swedish blue

gla%ier blue

midsummer yellow


ABCDEFGHI JKLMNOPQ RSTUVQXYZ 0(2348&$%# abcdefghijklm nopqrstuvwxyz

tulip orange



Stockholm 2042

Winter Olympics Welcome to Stockholm!




asymmet'y o' mo"ement

sno#%oar ing


crosS country skiing


alpine skiing


figure skating

t w o -t o n e d dimensionality

accented equipment

ski QuMping

ice hockey

SPEED skating



Wayfinding p r e d o m i n a n t ly u s e s symbolism over t e x t/ l a n g u a g e

Stockholm Olympics - AD: Grace Geary / XD: Erin Philips, Ryan Shih


Jakarta Olympics - AD: Taylor Brazukas, Ann Shoen / XD: Katie Boller, Charlie Pfaff

curriculum examples - user participation platforms


Cairo Olympics - AD: Zoe Alexander, Sean McSherry / XD: Matt Allison, Emily Wills

BRND-630: PROBLEM SOLVING FOR ART DIRECTORS In the creative world, art directors are typically paired with copywriters. But in the first semester at the Brandcenter, each concentration needs to walk before they learn to fly. In Problem Solving for Art Directors, students work alone to develop the skills and craftsmanship to carry them forward in their careers.

curriculum examples - problem solving for ADs


Thinking visually is a key part of this skillset, and art directors are tasked with conceiving and designing visually compelling concepts for everything from logos to concert posters. Students delve into the history of typography and principles of design, while also studying influential graphic designers and photographers.The outputs of this class range from package design, to visually driven ad campaigns, to motion design.

PROJECT: Create a telegraphic logo and brand identity for a fictional pizza place.

Battleship Pizza - AD: Madeline Honig

Hogtown Pizza - AD: Grace Geary

Lunar Pizza - AD: Ann Shoen

Alpine Pizza - AD: Taylor Brazukas

Dogtown Pizza - AD: Shannon Bullock

PROJECT: Create a visual solution campaign for your product.


Raid - AD: Cara Wolder

PROJECT: Create a telegraphic conceptual wine logo and design system for a wine brand.

Viking Wines - AD: Griffin Drew

Sequoia Sake - AD: Jay Do

PROJECT: Create a conceptual music poster for an artist or festival based on the artist's story, lyrics, origin, or concert location.

Tame Impala - AD: Zeynep Aydogmus Masunu

Phoebe Bridges- AD: Chrislin Hearn

Lady Gaga - AD: Shrinidhi Vijay

curriculum examples - problem solving for ADs

Miracle Gro - AD: ShahRukh Tailor

BRND-620: BRAND DESIGN FOR BRAND MANAGERS Brand managers are both creative and analytical, seamlessly fusing the two together to become masters of creative problem solving. This course helps hone the skills needed to be more confident with innovation, design, and brand development.

curriculum examples - brand design for brand managers


ASK Build a pet food product line extension of the Carhartt brand that remains true to Carhartt’s values and narrative. PROBLEM How can Carhartt leverage its strong brand identity to stand out in a saturated pet food market? OPPORTUNITY Carhartt’s core truth is to create high quality products that help consumers work their hardest, a truth shared by dog owners.

POSITIONING Carhartt has established their reputation as the brand for those with an uncommon, courageous work ethic, and we are proud to extend that brand and trust to their tenacious furry friends. STRATEGY No matter what you do, you outwork them all, and so does your dog. Don’t settle for anything less than Carhartt.

Carhartt Canine - CBM: Molly Barnett, James Glass, John March

ASK: Focusing on the assigned target audience, their needs, wants, habits, and sense of style, design a coffee maker. This is all about design aesthetics without forgoing functionality.

Coffee and coffee filter placed here; coil twists off. Glass coil to slow the drip of coffee.

Vacuum technology to push water up.

Load water here; insulated.

Water sensor to indicate when water is low.

01 SUSTAINABLE DESIGN Made primarily of ceramic and wood, this will be good to you and the environment. 02 FRENCH PULL TECHNOLOGY Different from the traditional press method, this method ensures coffee grounds don't remain in the canister.

03 DUAL INSULATION Ceramic outlet layer and stainless steel inner layer ensures your coffee will remain hot for hours on end. 04 MULTIFUNCTIONING CAPABILITIES The detachable cup and French Pull system makes the canister a multi-use product for all users.

Transparent logo to see water level.

DRIP - CBM: Molly Barnett, James Glass, Tori McCarl

JAVATREK - CBM: Sophie Durand, Max Lichtfuss, Tracy Okafor

ASK Design a profitable space for Old Bay, a brand that currently does not have a physical presence. CHALLENGE How can Old Bay celebrate its loyal fan base while also appealing to a new market? INSIGHTS Brand truth: Old Bay offers a simple way to spice up an ordinary meal. Consumer truth: People travel to get away from their mundane routines.

OPPORTUNITY Introducing The Bay Hotel - a bold hospitality experience expanding the brand past the pantry, encouraging food-lovers and adventurous souls to come together and transform the ordinary. The Bay will allow guests to relish in their passion for the brand and the food it elevates. It will blend its dependable legacy with fearless design to transport guests through past, present, and future. A heritage-laced, dynamic blend of colors and materials, funky art, and industrial exposure create a melting pot for adventurous souls, food aficionados, and thrill seekers.

The Lobby - The lobby is the crux of your Bay Hotel experience. Enjoy a signature Bloody Mary while you kick your feet up at the lobby bar or snag some Old Bay swag at the gift shop. This funky environment makes the perfect Instagram backdrop.

Bayside - Chow down on Old Bay deviled eggs or nachos while overlooking the Baltimore Harbor. Take it a step further and learn to make your own Old Bay dishes from the hotel’s executive chef.

The Bayground - Open for guests and locals alike, the rooftop is the ultimate playground for Old Bay lovers. Enjoy mini putt-putt and arcade games while you try Old Bay-seasoned spicy street tacos and boardwalk fries.

Old Bay/The Bay Hotel - CBM: Kimberly Burgess, Jonathan Castaneda, Emilee Lampert, Bradley Wells

curriculum examples - brand design for brand managers


art direction (AD)

27 Art directors are visual problem solvers with a strong sense of concept and design. They particpate in the development of concepts, then bring them to life with images, typography, and technology.

art direction (AD)


AD student feature


Photo by Jerry Metellus

I’m a very impatient person. I’ve always had a tendency to sprint towards my end goal without appreciating the journey. It’s something I still wrestle with today. Growing up, I knew I was going to be a professional ballet dancer. By the time I was 12, I had mentally checked out of school—it was not a prerequisite to becoming a dancer. It didn’t help that when I was 15, the San Francisco Ballet offered me a full scholarship to study at their school with the hint of being able to join the company within a year. So just after my 16th birthday, I moved across the country without parental supervision to begin studying at what you could call a portfolio school for ballet. In a little over nine months, I was onstage dancing corps de ballet roles with SFB, getting paid to do so while still being a student. I didn’t have the maturity to appreciate what was happening, and I began to inadvertently signal to the director of the school that I felt like I was already a member of the company. But my impatience got the best of me; by the end of that school year, I was not invited back. I had not gotten a contract with the company. While it stung, all was not completely lost: I danced professionally for the next 12 years of my life, from Seattle to Las Vegas and back to San Francisco, where I began choreographing and experimenting with design and advertising.

Over time, I found that impatience was my way of dismissing what was going on in the present moment. It took years of therapy, medication, and Eckhart Tolle for me to appreciate it. Most of us come to Brandcenter because we want so badly to be in an industry that won’t look at us twice if we haven’t gone to portfolio school. But for me, coming to Brandcenter pumped the brakes, made me see my shortcomings, and allowed me to blossom into a better creative. Not since I first stepped into a dance studio have I felt like I was meant to be right where I was. I feel that at the Brandcenter. Most everyone here is just as weird and neurotic as me with a love for solving problems creatively. What feels different now is that I don't feel rushed. I know in order to get to where I want to be, I have to be a sponge for the entirety of the game, not get ahead of myself, and not be dismissive of the process. David Ligon (AD, 2021)

30 david ligon

Impatience once again reared its ugly head when I made the decision to stop dancing full-time, come home to South Carolina, and attend USC. Even when I went back to school, semi-retired, I was rushing to graduate.

NYPL - AD: Brittany Reid / CW: Kate Power

Wikipedia - AD: Chris Cole / CW: Aubrey Estes

AD student work

31 Race of Gentlemen - AD: Adam DuBrueler / CW: Chelsie Kelly

Champion - AD: Madeline Guzzo / CW: Will Curtis

Ryanair - AD: Sara Smokrovich / CW: Evan Shisler

California Avocado - AD: Hannah Berling / CW: Mackenzie Thomas

AD student work

32 JENNI’S ICE CREAM - AD: Jade Giddens / CW: Courtney Robinson

Big Red - AD: Hamza Ali / CW: Chelsie Kelly

Reddit - AD: Michelle Greeley / CW: Laura Gardner

Alcatraz - AD: David Ligon / CW: Nathan Bennet

copywriting (CW)


Copywriters can bring life to big ideas through storytelling that is bold, honest, and engaging. They must work across a range of styles: from comedy, to serious prose; from long videos you can’t stop watching, to short social media messages that make you stop and think.

copywriting (CW)


I knew I wanted to go to the Brandcenter about seven years before I finally got here. At the first Info Session I went to, I got a card saying, “if you like making people laugh and always have interesting stories, you might be a copywriter.” Now, I don’t know how interesting I am, but I clung to that thing like it was a BuzzFeed personality test telling me what kind of cheese I am (Not an insult. That’s a very important test). A lot happens in seven years, though. Like one day you’re graduating from undergrad and you get a job working as a designer at a custom apparel shop, and then suddenly it’s 2019 and you don’t know where the time or your aspiring writing career went.

CW student feature


The interesting thing I’ve found about coming to the Brandcenter is that I didn’t have to give up my quaint past life as a designer for copywriting. If anything, having multiple facets to yourself is an advantage at the Brandcenter. So sometimes when my dreaded friend, Imposter Syndrome, comes to visit, I try to zone out and do something low-key and in my comfort zone, like design. Design is also what I lean on when I’m feeling lost, stuck, or helpless. Watching the news, checking Instagram, and reading articles during Summer 2020 rocked me. I didn’t know what to do with my feelings, so I did what I’d been doing for the past seven years: I designed a t-shirt. I’d never done anything like a fundraiser before, but I wanted to help the BLM movement in a way I knew I couldn’t do financially on my own. My t-shirt sales raised $500 that I donated to the Equal Justice Initiative and Trans Women of Color Collective. Two years. Sixty weeks. You come to class each day at the Brandcenter wanting your classmates to kill it because it pushes you to try something new and compete–not with them, but with yourself. I got advice once from a professor to do something just to see if you can do it. At the Brandcenter, you get a lot of chances to do just that. Monica Roebuck (CW, 2021)

monica roebuck


Honey Baked Ham - CW: Will Curtis / AD: Camden Dechert

CW student work

37 HotHands - CW: Liam McKay, Nathan Bennet

Pearl Beer - CW: Shannon Gill, Kevin Ma / AD: Rachel Broadwell Stolte

Boom Chicka Pop - CW: Courtney Tibbetts / AD: Chrissy Boals

Cora - CW: Kate Powers / AD: Brittany Reid

Black athletes are often told to “Stick to Sports” as though their opinions don’t matter. “More Than Sports” is a series of illustrated trading cards meant to highlight important athletes, not for championships they’ve won or titles they’ve earned, but for their accomplishments off the field or court.

More Than Sports - CW: Monica Roebuck

CW student work


The North Face - CW: Chelsie Kelly / AD: Meghan Callaghan

Kingsford - CW: Kevin Ma / AD: Chris Cole

experience design (XD)


Experience designers concept, design, prototype, and build brand experiences that help people and push the envelope of what is technologically possible.

experience design (XD)


I was 24-weeks pregnant when my first semester started at the Brandcenter. I applied to the Brandcenter for a new challenge after working as a graphic designer for a long time, but I didn’t expect that challenge to include being a pregnant woman and a new mother. I was already nervous about quitting my secure job and going back to school, and this additional layer of uncertainty made me doubt whether I made the right decision. I also wondered whether anyone else was crazy enough to go through the program while being pregnant. I got my answer on the first day of school. In my conversation with Ashley Sommardahl, our associate director, she mentioned to me, “there have been a few new dads, but you would be the first new mom at the Brandcenter.” While this initially didn’t help with my anxiety, I also began to think about how cool this would be if I can pull it off. I still felt nervous, but it was also an opportunity to turn myself into a trailblazer, and to show the way for future pregos to join Brandcenter. So I accepted that challenge, and now here I am about to graduate with my 16-month-old son, Henry.

XD student feature


I might be the first one on this journey, but I was definitely not alone. I don’t think I could have done this without the support of the professors, staff, and my peers at Brandcenter. When I was pregnant, everyone here made sure my health and the health of my son was the priority. They even threw a baby shower for me that I am forever grateful for! Showering me with blessings and energy to push through the first semester. I was able to wrap up the first semester successfully a week early and took a maternity leave during the winter break. Through this experience, I learned that being a parent is like having a fulltime job, so time management became critical. I had to make sure to block off time to spend with my family. In scheduling meetings, I had to be firm in letting my teammates know that certain time slots were off limits. Also, routines became even more important than ever before in keeping me from being overwhelmed with everything. On the other hand, being a new mom gave me a new perspective and inspirations for many of my projects, whether it’s an independent study focused on designing a service to help postpartum moms or a mixed AR experience designed for children who can’t visit the zoo during the pandemic. In every project at Brandcenter, challenges became opportunities. But it also holds true in life. New challenges and uncertainty may give us a new story to tell, an inspiration for next projects, and a chance to meet genuine and talented people who will join us in our journey. Sharon Byun (XD, 2021)

sharon byun


Orvis Open Waters - XD: Danielle Loleng

PRODUCT DESIGN / DIGITAL The Orvis Open Waters experience is an entirely new connected experience designed to make fly fishing more inviting, accessible, and inclusive for all, but with a focus on BIPOC. This holistic initiative includes new branding, an affordable product line, a mobile app, an AR implementation, and a mentorship program that aims to reduce the high learning curve and financial cost while also building authentic relationships.

XD student work


PRODUCT DESIGN / UX / UI Designing a social product for Fuse. Uplifting BIPOC and their creative careers by creating a digital platform to grow networks and knowledge.

FUSE - XD: Amanda Thao

SERVICE DESIGN / UX / UI Warmly is a pre-made soup delivery service under Freshly, designed to provide virtual social support for new moms. The mobile app allows new moms to order the soups tailored to their specific needs and to access virtual social support via features like gift registries and live chat rooms. Warmly - XD: Sharon Byun

MacOS Reality - XD: Dominik Hofacker


Envisioning the next generation of operating systems designed for AR glasses that will replace traditional computers and 2D monitors. These concepts have been featured worldwide on sites like CultofMac and iMore.


HomeTeam for Google Classroom is meant to bridge the gap between parents, teachers, and students. Parents and students can request help on more challenging projects, teachers and parents can give students encouragement or nudges as needed, and students have the ability to manage their work, as well as their time, in a more structured way, without constant parental supervision.

XD student work

HomeTeam- XD: Lex Coelho, Lauryn Goodlett, Jael Williams


strategy (ST)


Strategists are students of creativity, budding anthropologists, culture mavens, future forecasters, problem solvers, and insightful generators of ideas that inspire and move business forward

strategy (ST)


ST student feature


I did Brandcenter a little differently than most. I did it my way. After graduating with my bachelor’s in fashion merchandising in 2003, I spent 15 years working at VCU. I hit my stride in roles in Student Affairs and New Student Orientation (where I mentored and employed hundreds of undergrads) and as general manager of the on-campus technology store, RamTech. Excelling in this space helped me gain confidence in myself; it helped me discover my passion for collaboration, leadership, and connecting with young people. It also gave me the opportunity to build upon my creative and entrepreneurial pursuits: I took the skills I was learning on the job and applied them to the launch of my culture blog, KickRocs, which eventually evolved into a YouTube channel interviewing celebrities. That pivoted into event planning, hosting events in sneaker culture, throwing concerts, and my most recent endeavor, A Big Ass Cookout. By the time 2018 rolled around, my career at VCU was booming. I had mentored hundreds of students, won competitive awards for my student store, and had even been invited to be the featured speaker at Apple Campus Store Leadership Summits in Austin and Cupertino. But I was bored. It felt like I was hitting a wall, and deep down I knew it was time for a more creative challenge. It was time to break some rules.

I was 37 years old when I entered the Brandcenter for orientation in 2019. And I hit the ground running. Given my experience, I had this extended realization of what I wanted to do in my career and exactly how the Brandcenter could help me get there. I treated the Brandcenter like a job: I got in early, made connections, did the work, kept my vision clear. Having my professional background made it easy for me to sharpen myself in ways I hadn’t been sharpened. Two years later, I’ve gained a heightened sense of confidence in my abilities. I know that I am a strategist, but I’m also a creative. The path I took to get to where I am today is different than most. I’d argue I’m better off because of it. I bet on myself. Bet on yourself. Nana Dadzie (ST, 2021)

48 nana dadzie

I scheduled a meeting with Vann Graves in 2018 with zero intention of actually going to the Brandcenter. I just wanted an opportunity to hear his story—here was a successful Black man who had made a living out of being a creative. I knew that was something I wanted for myself. Not long after our meeting, I started my Brandcenter application. When I was accepted, I quit my job of 15 years and enrolled.

“What is America’s relationship with truth?” is, to say the least, a complicated question to answer. But with mentorship from Nonfiction Research, this team of strategists created a digital zine that tackles the thorny topic. Their deep dive into truth included interviews with a psychologist, a psychic, a QAnon supporter, an ex-Mormon drag queen, and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and scholar. They also surveyed hundreds of strangers to see how many Americans have cut someone out of their life due to conflicting beliefs. (The answer? 35 million!). View the zine at

ST student work


Truth Zine: ST: Shannon Gerety, Joseph Koroma, Allison Schneider, Sheila Villalobos

PROBLEM Wine wants you to grow up, not be who you are, limiting the occasions in which you want to drink wine. OPPORTUNITY Create a mental shortcut in the minds of Millennial and Gen-Z wine drinkers that puts the Stork front-of-mind when exploring the wine category. When they think wine, they should think Wine Stork. MISSION Democratize wine consumption by removing barriers, both physical and cultural.

Vibe Categorization Wine Stork picked out five vibes to categorize wines that will help simplify the process of finding the right wine for the right occasion. It adds a fresh, modern voice to which younger drinkers can relate, and it differentiates Wine Stork from other wine companies and creates memorable descriptions that users will remember.

VISION Be the leader in selling to and educating a new generation of wine drinkers—in their language, on their terms.

CREATIVE IDEA Dropping vibes in your crib.

Making the Bottle Official Playing off the Wine Stork name, we deliver each bottle with a birth certificate. QR codes link the consumer to more information on the bottle, winery, and region. On the back are maps showing the region that produced each wine.

Spotify + Wine Stork Drink the vibes. Feel the vibes. A Wine Stork occasion is nothing without the right soundtrack. And our curated vibe playlists from the Wine Stork “vibeyard” will set the mood for everything to come. Pop. Play. Vibe.

Wine Stork - ST: Nana Dadzie, Thomas Freeman, Catherine Marsh

Wine Stork Social We will utilize Instagram posts and ads, specifically within the Richmond/Virginia areas, to geo-target young drinkers where they are on social. We want the ads to look vibrant, fun, and modern to catch their attention.

ST student work


STRATEGY Enhance the different occasions of life, however you live them.

Elmer’s Slime Worthy - ST: Marnie Abraham, Shannon Gerety, Catherine Marsh

Introducing “Slime Worthy”

the national campaign at the intersection of wellness and creativity

Overview A campaign that intersects wellness and creativity and positions slime as a self-care tool for adults.

Start the Conversation Creative inspiration and artistic stress-relieving content will live on the new @slimeworthy IG. Along with organic press, sponsored content will be published on Refinery29 and

Market - Introducing “Vitamin S”

Ask Keep slime trending in 2020. Problem Slime is still viewed as a child’s toy. Opportunity Make slime another tool in people's self-care tool kit / regimen, but make it a self-care tool that you can’t live without.

Youtube mockup

Stategy Identify moments in life that are “slime worthy.” The national campaign at the intersection of wellness and creativity.

ST student work


Slime Therapy Partner with Creative and Wellness studios to host “Slime Therapy” workshops - “Wine & Slime”, Meditation Classes, Wellness Chats.

ASK How can we get Tero, a food recycler, into the kitchens of those who don’t compost. PROBLEM Americans toss out almost 150,000 tons of food each day. Yet, 72% don't compost because it involves a lot of compromise, from dealing with the odor, the space it takes up and the lengthy process involved. National Waste & Recycling Association Survey

Tero - ST: Payal Pereira

OPPORTUNITY 67% of those who don’t compost said they would be willing to do it if it was more convenient and Tero does just that by transforming food waste into fertilizer in just 3 hours. National Waste & Recycling Association Survey

STRATEGY Composting without compromise.

ASK Help the Richmond Times-Dispatch (RTD) become a news source that millennials are willing to pay for. PROBLEM Gen Z and Millennials regularly pay for their news, just not the Richmond Times-Dispatch. INSIGHT RTD isn’t connecting with a younger audience because it’s not representing a younger audience. OPPORTUNITY Connect with readers by making news consumption more active and involved through a solutionsbased, journalistic approach to local news. SOLUTION The Circle / an arm of RTD that is dedicated to breaking down questions the community wants answered and reporting on the solutions that work.

ST student work

52 01 - Learn The Circle topics are covered for a period of 2-3 months. This encourages readers to follow stories and not forget about issues once they are consumed.

02 - Join The Circle is made up of a community of enthusiastic, like-minded members versus disconnected subscribers.

Richmond Times-Dispatch - The Circle ST: Marnie Abraham, Payal Pereira / XD: Lauryn Goodlett, Joe Mrava

03 - Act Readers can vote on the kinds of topics they want The Circle to report on.

creative brand management (CBM)


Creative brand managers love strategy that moves brands. They lead people with different skillsets to focus their efforts in ways that build brand equity and fulfill business objectives.

creative brand management (CBM)


CBM student feature


Everything always comes back to soccer. It all began when I was three years old, and the sport continues to have a significant impact on my life. During high school, I realized I wanted to play Division I soccer. I traveled five days a week from Williamsburg to play on an elite travel team in Richmond. We attended tournaments across the country, and during this time I learned how to juggle my schoolwork with soccer, and how important time management was. All of this paid off when I was recruited to play for the VCU Women’s Soccer team. Fast forward to my sophomore year at VCU. As a marketing student, I was browsing through business electives and came across a variety of “BRND” courses. They piqued my interest immediately; these classes represented everything I wanted to do in my career. I realized these classes were a part of a master’s program—the Brandcenter at VCU. At this moment, my sight was set on attending the Brandcenter after graduation.

I have applied the skills I learned from soccer during my time at the Brandcenter. How to be a leader. How to find my role within a team and excel at it. How to understand the job everyone has in order to bring out the best in each other. Coaches often told me I excelled at “seeing the field,” which means seeing the big picture. In projects, I can be quite detail-oriented, but I never lose sight of our goal and what we need to accomplish. As a female athlete, it’s no surprise that I’m now seeking a career that involves sports and empowering women. My time as a soccer player and as a Brandcenter student have set me up perfectly to graduate and enter into the world of advertising. I know I will be successful—because passion drives happiness, and happiness drives success. Plus, winning is fun too! Paige Majdic (CBM, 2021)

56 paige majdic

It was also during my sophomore year that I learned I could not give 100% to both soccer and schoolwork. I decided to transfer to James Madison University to finish my undergraduate education. Of course I wasn’t ready to give up playing soccer altogether, so I joined the JMU Women’s Club Soccer team. After graduating in 2018, I followed my plan and applied to the Brandcenter. It is hard to explain, but I felt like everything had happened for a reason. I felt as though soccer led me to a career in advertising.

ASK Reposition menopause and highlight how its absence from mainstream media is detrimental to women, trans men, and non-binary people of all ages.

INSIGHT To destigmatize menopause, and make the conversation more inclusive, we need to reframe “womanhood” as “uterinehood,” starting from the beginning.

OPPORTUNITY When people begin to menstruate, they’re told, “Welcome to womanhood.”

STRATEGY Show that menopause isn’t the end of womanhood. It’s one of many stages of uterinehood.

This language sets up a negative connotation for menopause, diminishing the self-worth of older women and women who experience menopause early. Have women at the end of their menstruation lost their womanhood?

CONCEPT An experiential app to enlighten users on all stages/aspects of uterinehood, from menstruation to menopause.

Out-of-Home First, we'd generate awareness for the app by meeting our target where they are. We would hang posters in gyms, locker rooms, dressing rooms, and doctor's offices, intimate spaces where people think about their bodies and health.

CBM student work

57 The Revolution Box The Revolution Box would be a new subscription-based product. It would feature an assortment of brands that specialize in menopausal health. Included would be clothing, sexual wellness items, and skincare. Uterine Health Magazine We'd "hijack" one issue of Women's Health Magazine, temporarily renaming it Uterine Health Magazine. This partnership would bring attention to the new terminology and spark conversation around the idea of "uterinehood."

App Each state would provide a rundown of possible physical changes while also reframing them emotionally. Through your personal u•hood profile, you could also track your periods and symptoms and then export them for review with your doctor. u•hood - CBM: Kimberly Heard / AD: Adam DuBrueler / CW: Aubrey Estes / ST: Thomas Freeman

BRAND ANALYTICS Brand Analytics might sound super-technical, but it’s really about about experiments, objectives and outcomes, and knowing how to use data analytics to drive creativity and problem solving.

Revenue Breakout by Category Revenue vs Expenses

OBJECTIVE 01 Increase average revenue per store

Product Performance Average Ticket Size Mobile App Metrics

Most important 9 metrics. At-a-glance takeaway.

What products and categories are bringing in the most revenue, and where can we cut costs.

ASK Identify KPIs and business objectives that can be measured and quantified through a brand analytics dashboard for Chick-fil-A. TAKEAWAYS Chick-fil-A generates more revenue per store than any other US fast food chain. Ranked #1 fast food restaurant in the US in the American Customer Satisfaction Index, customer service is their "secret sauce." ​They have the longest wait times and longest lines in the fast food industry. OBJECTIVES Our preliminary brand research and analysis helped us to determine the dashboard objectives– Objective 1: Increase average revenue per store Objective 2: Maintain a favorable customer experience

See frequency of app downloads and how they are driving revenue.

Customer Satisfaction Wait Time


Maintain a favorable customer experience

Visitor Frequency Membership Status Social Media Sentiment


Referencing this data:


Determine factors that impact overall customer satisfaction.

See how the brand is perceived externally.

Recommendation 01:

Referencing this data:

Integrate Surveys into the Chick-fil-A Mobile App ● ● ●

Recommendation 02: Create a New Meal Combination Offering ● ● ●

Creates more opportunities to enhance their overall experience Drives revenue Prioritizes their “secret sauce”

Promote best selling items Increase revenue of unpopular items Address the “4 for $4” trend



Referencing this data:

Integrate Surveys into the Chick-fil-A Mobile App

Recommendation 03: Open More Stores in Opportune Areas ● ●

Create a New Meal Combination Offering

OBJECTIVE 01 Increase average revenue per store

Open More Stores in Opportune Areas

Implement an Off-Peak Pricing Strategy

Increases distribution Drives more revenue per store in the long run Opportunity to decrease local wait times


Maintain a favorable customer experience

Chick-fil-A Dashboard - CBM: Emilee Lampert, Paige Majdic, Alexandria Reid, Angel Song

Referencing this data:

Recommendation 04: Implement an Off-Peak Pricing Strategy ● ● ●

Drive customers to visit during slower hours Incentivize a greater ticket size Opportunity to decrease wait time

CBM student work

OVERVIEW Our dashboard was created to address these two key business objectives using appropriate metrics. Additionally, since Chick-fil-A prioritizes their customer experience, we wanted to do the same by making a dashboard that was interactive and provided an informative user experience. The dashboard is adaptable for all levels of the Chick-fil-A brand, since their values and KPIs apply throughout the franchise. Therefore, we kept local, regional, and national perspectives in mind throughout the dashboard's design.

ASK Transform Montpelier into a rebellious provocateur to attract a younger, more diverse local crowd. Go beyond “cool” campaigns—change hearts. PROBLEM The desired target doesn’t see the Constitution as a document made with them in mind. Why should they care about where it was drafted or James Madison? STRATEGY Get today’s dissenters to see the Constitution as their armor by showing them how the Constitution protects them when they fight for what is right. POSITIONING Arm the people with the Constitution. James Madison’s Montpelier - CBM: Bianca Naidoo / AD: Adam DuBrueler, Hamza Ali / CW: Monica Roebuck / ST: Sheila Villalobos

CBM student work


ASK Leverage Olly Vitamins’ mission, core values, and brand attributes to successfully launch a beauty line extension that appeals to its consumers. INSIGHT Olly will leverage their expertise in nutritional vitamins and their effects on the appearance of skin to launch a line of serums that enhance the benefits of their current vitamin supplements. OPPORTUNITY Create a serum line that simplifies a complex system and appeals to a novice consumer. SOLUTION Olly will leverage their expertise in nutritional vitamins and their effects on the appearance of skin to launch a line of serums that enhance the benefits of their current vitamin supplements.

Olly - CBM: Leon Brewington, Alexandria Reid, Shelby Valeriano, Amanda Yoon

ASK Design a profitable brand experience that embodies the Sun Bum lifestyle by encouraging guests to work less and live more. BACKGROUND Sun Bum is a sun protection brand that sells skincare products, hair care products, and lip balms. Sun Bum believes that breaks are not a waste of time, but necessary for creating a happy life. At Sun Bum's core, they are a lifestyle brand that encourages their consumers to live a life that matters. PROBLEM Many of Sun Bum’s core consumers are not embracing the “work less, live more” mentality that the brand believes in. In fact, they are working more than ever. So much, that America was dubbed the “No Vacation Nation” and 90% of millennial workers reported feeling overworked and burned out.

The Space - Shaka Villa

INSIGHT Surfers embody the Sun Bum lifestyle, though not intentionally. ​ Surfing creates a cognitive state known as afterglow, which makes people feel lighter, radiant, and restored. This state has been proven to combat burnout. OPPORTUNITY Encourage the Sun Bum lifestyle by creating a vacation that alleviates stress and combats burnout by providing a restorative experience that helps guests achieve afterglow. SOLUTION A branded hospitality excursion that encourages balance and restoration by helping guests achieve afterglow – a cognitive state proven to combat burnout.

The Initiatives

Bum Mobile The Bum Mobile takes an additional worry off of guests: transportation. Whether airport pick up/ drop off or a ride to town, it’s always down to go for a cruise.

'Screen Machine Sun Bum and Shaka Villa are proud advocates for proper skincare. Automated sunscreen machines along the beach ensure guests have access to sun care products at all times. Sun Bum - CBM: Kimberly Heard, Bianca Naidoo, Ellie Proctor, Angel Song

CBM student work


Whoop Leaders Whoop Leaders take a burden off of guests by making reservations, organizing activities, and doing the mundane things that they do not need to worry about during their stay.

concentration collaboration


concentration collaboration

62 Brandcenter students spend two years working within their chosen concentration, honing their expertise in Art Direction, Copywriting, Creative Brand Management, Experience Design, or Strategy. But we’re on a mission to mold our students into true polymaths, ready to shift gears and apply a different tactic or way of thinking at a moment’s notice. So we create opportunities for students to venture outside of their bubble and learn through cross-concentration collaboration and real-world client work. This approach builds a more well-rounded, knowledgeable individual capable of tackling complex problems from multiple angles.

BRND-677: THE BUSINESS OF BRANDING (BOB) Business of Branding—lovingly referred to as BOB—is the first semester, all-concentration class that aims to kick off collaboration across disciplines and put some business-based tools in students’ toolkits. The course culminates in launching a brand from Kickstarter.

Edible insects are misunderstood. Regardless of the health benefits, not many people want to consume bugs. We want to introduce people to the benefit bugs can have on your health and the environment.

collaborative work


Ento Market - AD: Kenzie Storrier / CW: Mackenzie Thomas, Nebraska White / ST: Allison Weiner / CBM: Joe Brooks

Enemy - AD: Jade Giddens / CW: Malcolm Richardson / XD: Danielle Loleng / ST: Catherine Marsh / CBM: Angel Song

LIVE CLIENT: VCU da Vinci CENTER ASK Create an identity for a new retail lab that will serve as a multifunctional retail space, gallery, and more.

MISSON Introduce the diverse talent within the VCU community by providing Richmond with a takeaway of inspiration and product.

PROBLEM The identity of the space needs to be flexible enough to serve many needs and not tie it into a single function, as well as elevated enough to appeal to VCU students, alumni and donors, as well as the greater Richmond community.

POSITIONING At the intersection of innovation and impact.


Brand Standards

Product Tags

Store Exterior

STRATEGY Ideas in Motion

collaborative work


Store Merchandise Marketing Material

March 13 - April 02

April 21 - May 07

Pattern Language | Exhibit B

Pattern Language | Exhibit C Promotional materials like the poster line-up will feature the wordmark paired with corresponding department. Shift’s logo will stand in the bottom right-hand corner.

Promotional materials including posters will feature moire pattern language to announce department exhibition shifts. Pattern paired with color scheme may serve to communicate department. The moire will feature as an accent to materials like stationary, literature, etc.


Sculpture & Extended Media

Promotional materials including posters will feature moire pattern language to announce department exhibition shifts. Pattern paired with color scheme may serve to communicate department. The moire will feature as an accent to materials like stationary, literature, etc.

| T H E

Biology & Kinesiology

Electrical & Computer Engineering

Pattern Language | Gradient Option


February 02 - February 28

| T H E

Promotional materials like the poster line-up will feature the wordmark paired with corresponding department. Shift’s logo will stand in the bottom right-hand corner.

Promotional materials including posters will feature moire pattern language to announce department exhibition shifts. Pattern paired with color scheme may serve to communicate department. The moire will feature as an accent to materials like stationary, literature, etc.

Promotional materials like the poster line-up will feature the wordmark paired with corresponding department. Shift’s logo will stand in the bottom right-hand corner.

da Vinci Retail Lab - Shift - AD: Chris Cole, Camden Dechert, Madeline Guzzo / CW: Shannon Gill, Chelsie Kelly / XD: Lauryn Goodlett, Danielle Loleng, Joe Mrava / ST: Shannon Gerety, Charlie Hudson, Allison Schneider / CBM: Ellie Proctor, Alexandria Reid, Amanda Yoon

BRND-659: BRAND EXPERIENCES Often referred to as “BOB 2,” Brand Experiences is an all-concentration class where students work in cross-functional teams. They take on the roles of an agency or consultancy, exploring what it takes to solve business problems, such as saving a failing brand, reimagining a renewed “shopping experience,” and tackling actual client prompts brought to the Brandcenter. PROJECT: Partner with Richmond-based business accelerator Lighthouse Labs. Teams each focused on one of seven real businesses in the Fall 2020 cohort, developing separate strategies, tactics, and objectives. The live clients below actually implemented most of the student recommendations.

Brand Refresh A - AD: Francine Jackson / CW: Courtney Robinson / XD: Dennis Liu / ST: Nana Dadzie, Chandler Saunders / CBM: Jonathan Castaneda, Angel Song

collaborative work


Brand Refresh B - AD: Grant Bauley, Madeline Guzzo / CW: Courtney Tibbetts / XD: Marshal Turner / ST: Brian Siepka / CBM: Kimberly Burgess, Emilee Lampert

UI Suggestions

Lumastic is a digital platform that seeks to build a community of creators, problem-solvers, and entrepreneurs and help them realize their dreams.

The client ended up implementing the writing and tone of voice from Brand Refresh A, the logo change from Brand Refresh B, and is slowly working to incorporate the UI suggestions created between both groups.

Social Ads




MIST, or "Minimally Invasive Spinal Technology," is developing a software algorithm and spinal implant to treat scoliosis. MIST Lighthouse Labs - AD: Hannah Berling, Matthew Cavallo, Adam DuBrueler, Robin Richardson / CW: Cain Luke, Nebraska White / XD: Danielle Loleng, Nicholas Vegas / ST: Catherine Marsh, Charlotte Robins, Sheila Villalobos / CBM: Prahbjot Saini, Amanda Yoon

PROJECT: Select a brand struggling with perception issues, then partner with a non-profit or advocacy group as well as a content distribution platform to develop a brand strategy with executions. The focus and learning was to pair seemingly unrelated entities to identify strategic overlaps, overlooked audiences, and ‘right-the-ship’ in a fictitious universe.

WeWork x NAACP x Skillshare = rework

collaborative work


rework - AD: Chris Cole / CW: Kate Power / XD: Gabriela Olivera / ST: Marnie Abraham / CBM: Shelby Valeriano

BRND-648: INNOVATION Innovation is all about tackling a topic or problem that is entirely unfamiliar to the student. The challenge: jump in headfirst and make magic. This asynchronous class is composed of all second-year students, with teams built by a shared desire to “Tackle Different.” A range of prompts are given to teams, including key industry or student competitions, passion projects, and the design of new products/services.

CHALLENGE After COVID hit, people across the globe realized that their space doesn’t work for working from home and it’s caused added mental stress. The downside? Most people expect to continue working from home long after COVID subsides.

collaborative work


INSIGHT Although people are unhappy sharing their home office with their bedroom, most are unwilling to consider a multipurpose bed due to perceived lack of comfort and style. OPPORTUNITY Casper considers themselves a technology company that prioritizes mental wellness above all. They are well known for their emphasis on comfort, minimalist style and ease of use. They are perfectly positioned to introduce a solution. SOLUTION Casper launches Casper Studio: a murphy bed for the modern day worker.

Casper - CW: Kate Power / XD: Joe Mrava, Marshal Turner / CBM: Emilee Lampert, Ellie Proctor, Alexandria Reid

+ ASK Develop an idea that not only raises awareness of skin cancer, specifically melanoma, in People of Color around the globe, but also helps to drive diagnosis to allow people to receive the treatments they need. PROBLEM Skin cancer is viewed as a "white person" problem. People of Color view their darker skin as natural sun protection giving them a false sense of security since they have more melanin and believe that protects them. INSIGHT The two major pain points that People of Color and the Black community encounter are: • Lack of trust in the dermatology community often fueled by bias from white doctors • Lack of resources to educate those in the black community about skin damage

SOLUTION Early detection. A human-centered design app to help People of Color and those in the Black community not only build trust but confidence when it comes to skin cancer prevention and education. This tool will monitor skin damage in a way that is unique to dark skin: a heat detection monitor that can show areas for potential sunburn after sun exposure. GOAL Build a tool that encourages community engagement around melanoma prevention and provides a library of educational resources. STRATEGY Don’t leave your life to chance. Fate is an illusion. You have the power to prevent melanoma. Get UNFATED Melanin doesn’t prevent melanoma, you do. You have the power to change your fate and prevent melanoma. The earlier you catch melanoma, the greater chance you have of surviving it.

Ad Campaign: Educational Awareness + CTA

Home Screen The first thing users will see is the UV index for the day and the user’s sun exposure throughout the day. Based on the UV index, user location, and amount of sun exposure, the app will suggest whether the user should do a skin check.

Skin Check Monitor Through the user’s phone camera, they would be able to check their skin for sunburns based on temperature of the skin as darker skin tends to show less signs of red pigmentation. The app will also suggest areas to treat and monitor for sunburns to help user’s know where to check. Unlike white skin, dark skin does not change to a pink or red pigment after a sunburn.

Community Forum Within the app, users can interact with others and have a place where they can show and discuss pictures of their skin. Users can access an image library to see pictures of minor, moderate, and severe skin damage. This helps not only create conversation but also builds trust to help people feel empowered and more educated about how to monitor potential sun damaged skin areas.

21Grams + Black & Brown Skin - AD: Sydney Toler / CW: Courtney Robinson / XD: Allison Moody / ST: Catherine Marsh, Lucy Mungo

collaborative work


BRND-673: EXPERIMENTATION In Experimentation, students explore the power of changing someone’s mind. Creative teams consisting of art directors, copywriters, and experience designers work together to build shifts in established paradigms, ultimately executing a prototype of their solution. The course illustrates the possibility in being creative and how to give larger meaning to the perception of a topic, issue, or brand.

SOCIAL GOOD PROJECT - Bumble Dating apps are a hotbed for inappropriate conversation. It’s uncomfortable to recognize our own problematic behaviors, and although some forms of racism, sexism, and transphobia are typically called out, there are plenty of non-malicious microaggressions that can slip under the radar. People have a hard time believing they are doing anything wrong when their words aren’t intended to hurt someone. But impact is greater than intent, and Bumble knows that to get young adults to rethink their interpersonal interactions, they need to be more educated about the conscious and unconscious choices they make. They need to change the language.

collaborative work


Bumble - AD: Chrissy Boals / CW: Shaw Schiappacasse / XD: Lauryn Goodlett

SOCIAL GOOD PROJECT - fr*nk, a content-curating, user-educating, and conversation-facilitating app for everyone. Why is society still fumbling over tricky conversations and topics because things "might get awkward”? How do we have more of the conversations we need to be having? As it turns out, the car is a great place to start. Meet fr*nk, a content-curating, user-educating, and conversation-facilitating app for everyone. The app harnesses the emotional power of parallel bonding during a shared ride and the social relief from eye contact and filling conversation holes.

fr*nk - AD: Hannah Berling / CW: Courtney Tibbetts / XD: Sharon Byun


Caloxaca - AD: Grant Bauley

70 collaborative work

Copywriter Grant Bauley was low on t-shirts last summer and wanted to design some of his own in a surf-meets-skate-meets-Western kind of style. Thinking about the concept for Caloxaca, a fake ghost town, Bauley created accompanying fake businesses and made the logos into real shirts.

SUPER BOWL LV Every year, Brandcenter alums make a strong showing in the Big Game—and no, we aren’t talking about the football part. In 2021, a total of 20 Brandcenter alumni contributed to 14 different spots that aired during the biggest game of the year, including work for brands like AnheuserBusch, Doritos, Indeed, and Samuel Adams. View spots here:

super bowl spots


Michael Hagos (AD, 2011) Anheuser-Busch Brand Spot Wieden+Kennedy NY

Blair Warren (AD, 2014) Michelob Ultra Wieden+Kennedy

Robert Clark (CBM, 2019) Jerry Hoak (AD, 2005) Deric Nance (CW, 2004) Blake Smoral (ST, 2018) DoorDash, “The Neighborhood” The Martin Agency

Cristen Ingram (CW, 2004) Northwestern Mutual, "Financial Planning for Families Affected by Autism" Northwestern Mutual

Sophie Lichtman (CW, 2020) Mila Wizel (AD, 2020) Doritos, “Flat Matthew” Goodby Silverstein & Partners

Scott Beard (ST, 2015) Rocket Mortgage Highdive

Heather Apple (CW, 2006) Hellmann’s Mayonnaise Wunderman Thompson

Marisa Perazzelli (ST, 2014) Samuel Adams Goodby Silverstein & Partners

Beth Stone (ST, 2008) Indeed, "The Rising" Indeed

Jodi Kanger Shelley (ST, 2000) T-Mobile

Cori Johnson (AD, 2013) Conner Tobiason (AD, 2012) Jimmy John’s Anomaly LA

Marc d’Avignon (AD, 2005) Toyota Saatchi LA

Luke Behrends (CW, 2007) Meranne Behrends (ST, 2007) MaineHealth Words from the Woods (airing in the Maine area)

Nate Totten (CW, 2010) Mercari, "Get your unused things back in the game" Rain the Growth Agency

AWARDS AND RECOGNITION Work by the #BrandFam doesn’t just solve problems and win new business—sometimes it wins awards, too. Congratulations to these students and alumni, recently named winners in a variety of award shows and competitions. ONE CLUB YOUNG ONES STUDENT AWARDS

Aura (awarded Gold) - Tory Nagel (ST, 2020), Danielle Johnson (XD, 2020), Stevenson Cerrillo (CW, 2020), Arielle Bryant (AD, 2020) Miller Genuine Draft (awarded Bronze) - Madeline Guzzo (AD, 2021), Liam McKay (AD, 2021), Marshal Turner (XD, 2021)


Huddle by Penguin - Pratika Appaiah (XD, 2020), Anna Boutchard (ST, 2020), Emily Rhodes (CW, 2020), Doug West (XD, 2020) The Colony - Michelle McGuire (ST, 2020), Yotam Ohayon (CW, 2020), Melissa Poe (XD, 2020), Alisha Taylor (CBM, 2020)


BEST IN SHOW - Isabel Kerr (CW, 2021) for Alzheimer’s Association Film Gold - Louis Boehing (XD, 2020) for René by Pearson BriElle Munizzi (AD, 2020), Yotam Ohayon (CW, 2020) for 1-800-GOT-JUNK Jenna Anderson (AD, 2020), Karan Raikar (CW, 2020) for Neutrogena Silver - Yotam Ohayon (CW, 2020) for Leica Jenna Anderson (AD, 2020), Stevenson Cerrillo (CW, 2020), Cara Coffin (ST, 2020) for Be Moved by Everything - Integrated Campaign Bronze - Shelby Bass (AD, 2020), Nick Garfield (CW, 2020) for Atlas Obscura Kelley Barrett (CW, 2020), Shelby Bass (AD, 2020), Cody Colvin (CBM, 2020), Rachael Sherman (ST, 2020), Ynes Bouck (XD, 2020), Mila Wizel (AD, 2020) for Swiss Miss Kelley Barrett (CW, 2020), Michelle McGuire (ST, 2020), Camille Walker (AD, 2020) for Sparknotes Jenna Anderson (AD, 2020), Stevenson Cerrillo (CW, 2020), Cara Coffin (ST, 2020) for Be Moved by Everything - Magazine


Best in Category for the Writing category Rachel Everett (AD, 2001), Brian Gibson (AD, 2001) for Canceling the Confederacy project Gold in the WTF/Other category Kelley Barrett (CW, 2020), Katie DiNardo (AD, 2020) for their book, Shut Your Legs and Open this Book Curtis Chapkowski (CW, 2015), Albert Song (AD, 2015) for Smoldering Remnants: A Children’s Book About Burning Man Shortlisted in Social Good category Bryce Isaacson (CW, 2012) for Noise Making Hand Sanitizer Shelby Bass (AD, 2020) for The Tributary Project


Greg Greenberg (CW, 2006) was recognized in the “Agency Leaders You Should Be Watching” category. He is currently a Group Creative Director at TBWA\Media Arts Lab in LA.

2021 FESTIVAL OF URGENT REINVENTIONS winners: Shannon Gerety (ST, 2021), Payal Pereira (ST, 2021)

awards and recognition

2021 ONE CLUB VIRTUAL BOOTCAMP winners: Kai Butler (ST, 2022) and her team

life at the brandcenter


"Everyone at Brandcenter immediately opened their hearts to each other and it shows. The love and support I've seen from my classmates is inspiring and unlike anything I've experienced before. Even when COVID hit, we still found ways to connect virtually and remain close. The friendships formed here are lifelong."

- Chelsie Kelly (CW, 2021)

life at the brandcenter



Our Friday Forum Speaker Series invites the industry’s top professionals to share their experience, insights, and advice with Brandcenter students. Hosted at the VCU Institute for Contemporary Art in non-Covid times, Forum provides Brandcenter students an opportunity to learn from a diverse collection of movers and shakers in the fields they’re pursuing. Following Forum, our speakers spend time talking with students about their work and career goals. Visit to view 2020-2021 forum events.

“It's not hard to get creatives to work long hours, to work into the evening, overnight, the weekend. You just have to give them something to believe in.” Topic - Care More: Why More Effort Can Make It Feel Easier

“Any chance we get, it’s really about just educating the client about what’s happening in culture and what’s relevant. Impacting culture and making progress, building loyalty in these communities. As long as it’s rooted in truth and goes back to their bottom line.” Topic - The Visibility Brief

friday forum


“What makes a great leader is that you have to start giving things away. You have to not be as into the credit, which will make you get more credit in the long run.” Topic - A Conversation with Margaret Johnson and Zach Canfield

Photo credit: Emmaline Terry (AD, 2020)


Virtual Friday Forum Fall 2020 - Spring 2021


Creative Director, Wieden+Kennedy Portland


Group Strategy Director Digitas North America

“You need to get to know people... You can’t get to an equitable place if you don’t understand people.” Topic - Real Talk: A Discussion About Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion


Director of Inclusion Strategy, Netflix


Associate Director, Talent & Culture The Martin Agency


Founder, Create Radical Love


Owner & Principal Consultant, ONE EIGHTY

TIM GORDON (CW, 2008) Chief Creative Officer, Droga5

“Pay attention and make sure that whatever you’re doing on a daily basis is contributing to who you want to become in this world.” Topic - As You Worship So You Become


Associate Creative Director, PREACHER

MIRA KADDOURA (AD, 2002) Founder and ECD, Red & Co.


Creative Director, Arts & Letters Creative Co.


Co-Founder and Chief Experience Officer, Proto


Head of Global Agency & Accounts, TikTok


Chief Strategy Officer, The Martin Agency


Senior Brand Strategist, The Martin Agency


Co-Founder & CCO, Erich & Kallman

MARGARET JOHNSON Chief Creative Officer Goodby Silverstein & Partners


Director of Talent Goodby Silverstein & Partners


VP, Strategy Director, Giant Spoon


Senior Recruiter, ROSEWOOD Creative


Senior Recruiter, The Many

ANYA LIDDIARD (ST, 2011) Brand Strategist, INNOCEAN


Director of Brand Strategy, INNOCEAN

friday forum speakers

Associate Creative Director, Giant Spoon


INTERNSHIPS Most Brandcenter students intern at companies across the country during the summer between their first and second year. Summer internships give our students the opportunity to apply the skills they’ve learned at the Brandcenter and start making connections. After completing their internship, students return to school in the fall and begin their second year with renewed confidence in their abilities.

When faced with a global pandemic, an economic recession, canceled internships, and a summer break in lockdown, 60 Brandcenter students saw these unprecedented challenges as a call to something greater: to serve their hurting community with their extraordinary talents. They came together to build the Brandcenter’s first studentrun creative shop—and in just two months, The Carriage House opened its virtual doors to their first client partners. By the end of August, the team had finished pro-bono work for over two dozen clients.

Coach House Enhance the restaurant's brand awareness through digital and local advertising.

Professional Art Handling Refresh branding for an art handling company through a new logo, new website, and social media strategy.

the carriage house


LipLoveLine Create branding, including logo and package design, for a new beauty line.

“It’s hard not to be awestruck when you’re looking through files for a project and you see the strategy and design behind global redesigns for your favorite childhood brands like Burger King, Popeyes, and Capri Sun. I was fortunate to join JKR at a busy time where I was able to hit the ground running. Three weeks in and I was presenting to Popeyes, seeing the strategy through to creative, and working on exciting new-to-market projects thanks to an incredibly talented and affable team.” - Sheila Villalobos (ST, 2021) / Interned at Jones Knowles Ritchie / worked on Popeyes and Burger King

“As an intern at Facebook, I was part of the Avatar Software Development Kit (SDK) team and worked mainly on the Oculus avatar editor on looks management. Given the extremely broad and diverse user base of Facebook, the goal of the project was to give users confidence in their self expression in every online community they interact in. This is increasingly important when talking about the concept of the metaverse, a collection of interconnected virtual worlds and communities where each and every one of them is unique in its own ways. Just like in real life where we change our appearance for different occasions or locations, the same applies to virtual social interaction. Over the course of 12 weeks, I collaborated with other designers, product managers, UX researchers, and content strategists to develop a solution that I ultimately pitched to executive leadership. That solution is now set for release this year (2021).” - Dominik Hofacker (XD, 2021) / Interned at Facebook

“OXIGEN was launching as a recovery water in the summer of 2020—an exhausting time for everyone. Erich and Kallman had already produced a campaign titled ‘Recover + Rise’ honoring essential workers at the front lines of the pandemic. They needed a spot to introduce Steph Curry as the new face and owner of the brand. I’m not a huge sports fan so my first thought was ‘I’m the last person who should be on this project.’ But I think that actually helped us, because they didn’t want to highlight Curry as an athlete, rather just a good human being. After several meetings and revisions, it was still a tie between two scripts, so the final tiebreaker was Steph himself.” - Courtney Tibbetts (CW, 2021) / Interned at Erich and Kallman / worked on OXIGEN


- Marissa Liu (XD, 2021) Google Creative Campus Marissa’s team created a targeted campaign called Google Raices to help individual countries in Latin America understand and discuss racial equity using Google products.


"Instead of spending one busy week in Cannes, I got to spend eight weeks building strong relationships with my cohort and my assigned team. Most of my teammates were based in Latin America, and now I know I have at least one friend I can hit up in Brazil, Costa Rica, or Ecuador. For our pitch competition, we also focused our target audience for Latin America, so when we won and went on to present to senior leaders, there truly was so much pride and celebration in what we had achieved together. I'd never trade that experience for anything else.”

BCSPRINT Before the spring semester begins each January, second-years have the opportunity to participate in a four-day strategic and creative sprint. Students select their own teams and are briefed by the client on day 1. Then they work non-stop over the next three days to find a creative solution to the task at hand. Presentations to the client take place on the final day. Participants get real-world experience with clients and work to feature in their portfolio. The 2021 BCsprint winners were “Project Yellow Bell” (for clients DoorDash and The Martin Agency) and “Exercise Your Emotions” (for client Peloton).

CHALLENGE DoorDash has the platform and power to drive change in the communities it serves. DoorDash asked us to deliver a solution that highlights how they can use their ability to connect people to the places and faces in their neighborhood to be a champion for racial progress in underserved communities.

PROJECT YELLOW BELL DoorDash’s initiative brings the original dashers, bus drivers, back to underserved neighborhoods to deliver meals to children who are missing out on school lunches during the pandemic and beyond.

KEY FINDING Food insecurity has nearly doubled since the start of COVID and has disproportionately affected communities of color. Normally, children in food-insecure homes receive two meals a day while at school. However, a lack of access has meant these children are not receiving their meals while schooling at home. Schools with the highest proportion of students that qualify for free-orreduced-price lunch are the least likely to have the funds to implement a delivery system. SOLUTION An impact-driven initiative and campaign concept that leverages DoorDash’s expertise and their passion to address food insecurity by bringing back a beloved community connector through Project Yellow Bell.



DoorDash AD: Chris Cole CW: Courtney Tibbetts XD: Joe Mrava ST: Marnie Abraham ST: Shannon Gerety CBM: Alexandria Reid

THE ORIGINAL DASHER If DoorDash connects you to the places and faces in your neighborhood, then there’s no one who does this better than your school bus driver. These community connectors are at the forefront of this initiative.

MAINSTREAMING FOOD JUSTICE (THE APP) Making it easy for neighbors to be sponsors of food justice by listing Project Yellow Bell as a restaurant within the DoorDash app.

PRIORITIZING CONNECTION, NOT THE BOTTOM LINE (MICROSITE) Creating space for the stories that are told when culture is nourished, amplified, and celebrated.


80 REDUCING STRAIN ON SCHOOL BUDGETS (PACKAGING) Branded packaging, a distinctly ownable touchpoint for DoorDash, spotlights the initiative while helping schools reduce costs to repurpose elsewhere.


CHALLENGE POST-PANDEMIC, MANY WILL RETURN TO GYMS AND IN-PERSON CLASSES. ​ espite its windfall year, growth remains concentrated D in one demographic: people aged 35+ with an average household income of $100k. Peloton asked us to engage new consumers, namely younger and less affluent ones. That said, many in this demographic may be eager to return to gyms and in-person fitness classes postpandemic. Peloton needs to identify what it offers that no alternative can. REALIZATION PELOTON BRINGS A BROADER RANGE OF MUSIC— AND EMOTIONS—TO THE HOME. Other exercise classes, both in-person and at-home, only offer hype. Through its wide-ranging playlists, Peloton allows exercises to experience a broader range of emotions: sad, angry, sexy, and more. Alone in the privacy of their homes, they are free to laugh, cry, and feel all the feels. STRATEGY FOR PEOPLE GRAPPLING WITH MANY EMOTIONS, PELOTON IS AN OUTLET TO EXERCISE THEM. With a pandemic, a shaky economy, political upheaval, the fishbowl of social media, and more, we live in emotional times. Thankfully, Peloton is like therapy, with playlists to match all your moods, good and bad. Stop going through the motions and start exercising your emotions. CREATIVE IDEA Work out. Work Through.


81 Peloton: AD: Hannah Berling / CW: Chelsie Kelly / XD: Dominik Hofacker / ST: Thomas Freeman


PR Through social listening, Peloton should identify opportunities to interact with celebrities and everyday people experiencing their own ranges of emotions. Since they might benefit from some Peloton therapy, we would offer them a free bike or membership. First up: Taylor Swift.

SOCIAL Much of Peloton's success is due to its instructors, who have distinctive personalities and cult-like followings. Their affirmations and mantras are central to Peloton's unique brand of therapy. We leveraged their rockstar personas and viral soundbites to create shareable social media content.

APP EXTENSION Peloton could partner with Calm to provide users custom exercise sessions for the mind.



CREATIVITY FUELING TRANSFORMATION In the haze of a global pandemic, simultaneous national protests and periods of civil unrest sparked a powerful social justice movement filled with urgency and a demand for change. Brandcenter students used their talents to educate, inspire, support, and encourage that change within the advertising community and beyond it.


In August 2020, we shared three endowed scholarships that are aimed at the continued growth of a diverse and distinguished student population. The scholarships were initially funded by Brandcenter faculty and staff members and have since received donations from alumni and other industry donors. Our commitment remains in continuously enhancing our efforts to support and develop diverse talent at the Brandcenter. Read more about the endowed scholarships:

“A more diverse and inclusive work environment isn’t just the ‘fair’ thing to do, it’s the ‘business-critical’ thing to do. Difficult marketing problems can and do get solved in more interesting ways when people with varying points-of-view, backgrounds and experiences come together. Additionally, having culturally-aware and diverse teams working on our projects helps ensure that the messages we send into the world, on behalf of our clients, include deep cultural insights, feature talent of all colors and dimensions, and share stories of a more progressive, compassionate and inclusive world.” - Julie Michael, CEO at Team One USA Team One donated $15,000 to one of the Brandcenter’s diversity scholarships.


Members of the Brandcentral and BC Collective student groups volunteered to distribute snacks and water at polling places on Election Day 2020. They focused on underserved areas in Richmond’s Southside communities, which often face the most barriers to voting.

creativity fueling transformation



When the One Club for Creativity reached out to the Brandcenter to help promote the Where Are All the Black People? conference, a team of ten second years stepped up to the challenge. They delivered a strategy and campaign that would “live past the conference and become a resource,” says Marshal Turner (XD, 2021). Read more: SOCIAL: Instagram posts



WAATBP - AD: David Ligon / CW: Will Curtis, Malcolm Richardson / XD: Danielle Loleng, Marshal Turner / ST: Nana Dadzie, Alexandra Daniel, Sheila Villalobos / CBM: Dinma Onyekwere, Angel Song


Rest in Stone app - AD: Hamza Ali / CW: Gauri Nigam / XD: Marshal Turner

84 creativity fueling transformation

When Richmonders filled the streets demanding change in Summer 2020, historic Monument Avenue became a focal point. Brandcenter students saw an opportunity to create an AR experience that would allow users to place new Richmond heroes on the monument pedestals.


Nana Dadzie (ST, 2021) collaborated with Bingo Beer Co. to brew a beer in service of social justice. Monumental Serve raised nearly $10,000 for the organizations Black Girls Code and Formerly Incarcerated Convicted People and Families Movement (FICPFM).

Be Monumental - ST: Nana Dadzie


In a move to reframe the conversation around Black Friday into an activation to support Black-owned businesses, a team of second-year Brandcenter students partnered with Seattle marketing agency DNA to create a #BlackBlackFriday activation. Read more:

Black Black Friday - AD: Brittany Reid, David Ligon / CW: Malcolm Richardson, Will Curtis / XD: Danielle Loleng, Marshal Turner / ST: Nana Dadzie, Alexandra Daniel, Allison Schneider, Sheila Villalobos / CBM: Dinma Onyekwere, Angel Song

Virginia’s Douglas Freeman High School, formerly known as the Rebels, is now home to the Mavericks thanks to a little help from Brandcenter students. The original mascot has long held negative connotations, so students worked to develop a new brand identity that better embodied inclusiveness and Freeman’s other core values. Read more:

creativity fueling transformation



Freeman Project - AD: Hamza Ali, Hannah Berling, Matt Cavallo / XD: Joe Mrava / ST: Hunter Mott, Charlotte Robins, Allison Weiner / CBM: Ellie Proctor, Amanda Yoon


In the summer of 2020, as millions gathered around the globe to stand against racial injustice, Marshal Turner (XD, 2021) documented the powerful movement happening right here in Richmond. His images were featured in RVA Mag and the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Marcus-David Peters Circle - XD: Marshal Turner


Payal Pereira (ST, 2021) created mini zines as a format to talk about her culture and identity while creating awareness about issues like cultural appropriation, microaggressions, and problems faced as creative-minded individuals.

creativity fueling transformation


BRANDCENTER VIRTUAL RECRUITER SESSION WEEK MAY 3-7, 2021 Our annual Brandcenter Recruiter Session brings hundreds of recruiters to Richmond each spring, giving second-years the opportunity to get their work in front of the world’s top brands, agencies, and consultancies. Our annual Recruiter Session experience pivoted online in 2020, and continued in its week-long virtual setting in 2021. This year, students created profiles on a new Brandcenter microsite, which was shared with our industry network. Recruiters could browse all graduate portfolios by concentration or specific skill, and each profile included a link to easily schedule time to chat. Visit

recruiter session


72andSunny ARGONAUT Baird Talent Consulting barrettSF BBDO BBDO Minneapollis Big Spaceship BLT Recruiting Blue Ion Bonfire Labs BooneOakley Bulletproof Inc. Byte New York Callen Campell Ewald Capital One CarMax Carol H. Williams Advertising Carol Vick LLC Carvana Confidant Cramer Krasselt Creative Search Consultants CultHealth Curiosity Damage: The Esports Agency David&Goliath DDB DiMassimo Goldstein DNA Doner Droga5 Elevation Eleven, Inc Erwin Penland (EP+Co) ettain group Exit10 Familiar Creatures FBI TALENT CO FIG

Forsman & Bodenfors Fred Farid Creative Community frog Design Fulton Hill Properties Garrand Moehlenkamp Godfrey Dadich Partners Grow Havas Havas Health & You Havas Worldwide Havit Advertising HEARTLENT Group Hilton Creative Studio INNOCEAN USA Instrument IPG Mediabrands Jack Morton Worldwide Johannes Leonardo Lafayette American Leo Burnett Lewis Communications Lippe Taylor Loud Creative LLC Lyft Manifest LLC Marks McCann McGarrah Jessee Mekanism MESH Microsoft Mighty Recruiting MONO Mother MRM//McCann MUH-TAY-ZIK / HOF-FER MullenLowe Night After Night NorthStar Solutions Group Observatory

Ogilvy OLIVER agency Omelet On Board Experiential Part and Sum Pearlfisher Peloton Pereira O’Dell Planet Propaganda Preacher Proto Publicis New York Quantasy and Associates REALM AGENCY RedCape RedPeg Republica Havas Ribbon RQ Agency Saatchi & Saatchi Sam & Lori Associates SCC Schafer & Sons Sid Lee Siddall Communications LLC Slingshot SoFi Solomon Page Spire Collective Squarespace Studio Mococo Sunshine & Bourbon Swift Agency SYLVAIN T3, a Material company TBWA\Chiat\Day Team One TECHEAD The Black Sheep Agency the community

The FCB Health Network The Many The Martin Agency The Tombras Group The Well The Wheely Great Trailer Co. The Working Assembly Tierney Communications Tilt Creative + Production tiramisu for breakfast TK Promotions Inc Tpn Translation LLC Truth Collective Two Things Vantage Point Consulting VaynerMedia VCCP NY Verizon Media Viget Vimeo Virtue Worldwide Vmly&R Vroom VSA Partners Wayfair WE Codeword WE Communications Weber Shandwick West Cary Group Wieden+Kennedy Wieden+Kennedy Shanghai WillowTree Wonderstrike, LLC Wongdoody Wunderman Thompson Health Yebo Zambezi Zeus Jones Zimmerman

WELCOME TO THE #BRANDFAM, BCX The Brandcenter’s home for Executive Education.

Launched in March 2021, our new BCX Executive Education division is designed specifically for working professionals who want to address the challenges of today’s ever-evolving creative industries. Programs are online in easy-to-access formats, with a range of topics designed to expand skill sets and advance careers. Participants can choose from two options: Individual, open enrollment programs will sharpen leadership skills, teach new software, or aid in a career pivot. They are designed to meet the needs of creative and innovative professionals of all levels. The inaugural BCX programs range from 2-6 weeks in length, and new programs will continually be added and run throughout the year. BCX custom programs allow companies to design custom employee, management, and/or leadership development programs unique to them. In April, BCX completed its first program with Foundry, Meredith Corporation’s custom content studio in New York. The program focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion for more than 80 Foundry employees.

Kristen Cavallo

Jordan Childs

Jennifer Clinehens

Benita Conde

Carl Desir

Some of what [the instructor] said struck me deeply as I struggle with conversing about race and inclusivity even within my own mixed race family. This session has helped me to better understand and navigate not just workplace issues that arise, but personal ones, too. - Sabrina M., BCX custom program participant, Spring 2021

Carmina Drummond

Andrew LeVasseur

Natalie Garramone

Rick Plautz

Rick Utzinger

BCX instructors are accomplished Brandcenter alumni, faculty, and distinguished industry leaders. Our inaugural list of instructors include (from left to right): Kristen Cavallo (Chief Executive Officer, The Martin Agency); Jordan Childs (Senior Marketing Manager); Jennifer Clinehens (CX Strategy Director, HAVAS CX Helia); Benita Conde (Founder, Coach, Consultant, Speaker, Create Radical Love); Carl Desir (Director of Inclusion Strategy, Netflix); Carmina Drummond (Chief Culture Officer, The Martin Agency); Natalie Garramone (Owner & Principal Consultant, ONE EIGHTY); Andrew LeVasseur (Professor, Experience Design, Brandcenter); Rick Plautz (Senior Motion Designer); Rick Utzinger (Executive Creative Director).


- Vann Graves, Brandcenter Executive Director

Learn more: Email: Follow: @bcx_brandcenter on Instagram

Brandcenter Executive Education

brandcenter executive education

The BCX virtual programs give us the opportunity to further our reach and support those interested in—or already working within—the branding, advertising and marketing industries wherever they are located.




- Amber Guild, President - T Brand / The New York Times

To view the entire commencement speech, visit

commencement - amber guild

"Transforming our industry will require staying true to yourself, to your work and to your craft. It will require finding your voice, and using it—even when it makes others uncomfortable. Especially when it makes others uncomfortable."

class of 2021


class of 2021


Art Directors

student website

93 Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash


Hamza Ali Grant Bauley Hannah Berling Chrissy Boals Katie Brents Rachel Broadwell Stolte Meghan Callaghan Matt Cavallo Chris Cole Camden Dechert Adam DuBrueler Jade Giddens Michelle Greeley Madeline Guzzo Francine Jackson Kara Kummer David Ligon Liam McKay Brittany Reid Robin Richardson Sara Smokrovich Kenzie Storrier Sydney Toler Grant Tolson

Scott Behrens Nathan Bennet Jason Colliton Will Curtis Aubrey Estes Laura Gardner Shannon Gill Ezekiel Handelman Chelsie Kelly Isabel Kerr Cain Luke Kevin Ma Nick Malone Pratibha Gauri Nigam Nikki Powell Kate Power Malcolm Richardson Courtney Robinson Monica Roebuck Shaw Schiappacasse Evan Shisler Mackenzie Thomas Courtney Tibbetts Nebraska White


Experience Designers

Sharon Byun Lex Coelho Madalyn Crews Lauryn Goodlett Dominik Hofacker Dan Ivey Dennis Liu Marissa Liu Danielle Loleng Charleen Martins Lopes Allison Moody Joe Mrava Gabriela Olivera Charlotte Olmsted Emily Riggan Amanda Thao Marshal Turner Nicholas Vega Chandler Webb Sophie Whitfield Jael Williams Curtis Winiesdorffer

Leon Brewington Joe Brooks Kimberly Burgess Jonathan Castaneda Kimberly Heard Emilee Lampert Paige Majdic Bianca Naidoo Anh Nguyen Dinma Onyekwere Ellie Proctor Alexandria Reid Prahbjot Saini Angel Song Shelby Valeriano Bradley Wells Amanda Yoon

Creative Brand Managers

Hunter Mott Lucy Mungo Payal Pereira Charlotte Robins Chandler Saunders Allison Schneider Brian Siepka Sheila Villalobos Ali Weiner

student website

Marnie Abraham Thuraya Al-Wazzan Nana Dadzie Alexandra Daniel Thomas Freeman Shannon Gerety Charlie Hudson Joseph Koroma Catherine Marsh


The Brandcenter, orginally named the VCU Adcenter, opened its doors to the first 51 graduate students. Founded and directed by industry veteran Diane Cook-Tench, the initial concentrations offered included Art Direction, Copywriting, and Strategy.

Adcenter is renamed the VCU Brandcenter. Moved into the newly renovated building at 103 S. Jefferson St., designed by Clive Wilkinson. Creative Technology concentration added, later renamed Experience Design.



Rick Boyko named director.

Patricia Alvey named director.




The first Adcenter class graduated with master’s degrees.


First Sixty Weeks publication.


25 years of brandcenter



Creatve Brand Management concentration added.

years of Brandcenter

New branding designed by Brian Collins.

From Adcenter to Brandcenter 51 to 105 students. A rented office building to our award-winning Mike Hughes Hall. We’ve come a long way in the last 25 years. Take a look back at some of the major changes along the way, including how our branding has evolved into the newest iteration introduced in September 2020 by Arts & Letters Creative Co. Support and Service Special thanks to these managing and interim directors, each of whom served the Brandcenter during important moments of growth: Brad Armstrong, Don Just, Kelly O’Keefe, and Judy VanSlyke Turk, Ph.D.


New identity launched in partnership with alumni team at Arts & Letters Creative Co.

The Brandcenter moved from the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences to beome part of the VCU School of Business, and the degree changed from a Master of Science in Mass Communications to a Master of Science in Business.



Vann Graves named executive director.

Helayne Spivak named director.


Launched BCX, executive education division.


Who’s Behind the Scenes of SIXTY? While the Brandcenter faculty, students, and administration have shifted over the years, designer in residence Diana Ojibway (AD, 2002) has designed every issue of our SIXTY publication, with the exception of the first ‘Sixty Weeks.’ Thanks to her experience and expertise, SIXTY continues to meet the program’s evloving needs each year. 1












Where are you going?







25 years of brandcenter


Rebrand launched in partnership with WorkLabs.

"Every time I thought I knew what to expect from Brandcenter, it gave me something completely unexpected. And every time, it gave me exactly what I needed."

- Chrissy Boals (AD, 2021)

how to apply

Visit for more details on the admissions process, deadlines, and requirements.

let us know you are interested

Join our mailing list to make sure you don’t miss a thing:

visit us

Visit to: ◦ schedule a 1:1 tour and meeting with admissions ◦ register for an information session Email to: ◦ attend a Friday Forum ◦ connect with a current Brandcenter student ◦ holler with any burning questions

contact us

804.828.8384 103 S. Jefferson Street, Richmond, VA 23284

follow us Instagram @vcu_brandcenter Twitter @vcu_brandcenter

Visit for an interactive virtual tour of the Brandcenter building and to picture yourself here.


virtual tour

Brandcenter Mission


Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.