Design and Branding Strategy MA

  • Overview
  • Course Content
  • Special Features
  • Employability
  • Fees
  • Entry Criteria

About the Course

This MA prepares students from design and other creative disciplines to apply their knowledge and skills in the branding domain.

The course develops your high-level skills and creative thinking, helping you learn how to clearly communicate strategies for successful brand building, futures forecasting and change management.

During the course you will also gain valuable industry insight from design and branding professionals who are part of Brunel’s extensive network of industry contacts. You will complete an individual design project, supported by personal supervision, and complete a final year dissertation on your specialist subject of choice.


All organisations use design, but few master its use strategically. This course provides the skills and knowledge to students wishing to enter this exciting and rewarding field of endeavour.

We were one of the first Masters programmes, globally, that sought to explain the relationship between branding and design and the importance of applying a strategic approach using design thinking, design methods and process. Today we remain a unique course internationally and attract students from all over the world, from different creative and design backgrounds, both with one purpose - to become masters of design strategy.

By the time you graduate you will be equipped to:

  • effectively apply design to create and deliver innovative brand propositions
  • creatively communicate brand values and deliver brand experiencein engaging and meaningful ways through a combination of tangible and intangle design
  • demonstrate expertise in your chosen specialism in exciting fields, such as branding for the collaborative economy
  • critically evaluate the roles and potential benefits of design in brand strategies
  • show personal initiative in addressing challenging issues that are relevant to the design industry.


Admissions and Course Enquiries
Web: Admissions Enquiries Information
Tel (before application): +44 (0)1895 265370 (College Marketing Office)
Tel (after application): +44 (0)1895 265265 (Admissions Office)
Contact Admissions or Course Enquiries Online

Acting Course Director: Dr Busayawan Lam

Related Courses

Course Content

The balanced combination of critical examination and rigorous academic research and creativity is a unique characteristic of Brunel's MA programme.

You will do a three-phase programme:

Phase One Modules: Taught Element (September - December)

Strategic Design Management

This module explores the effective use of design in a commercial, business and social context. Beginning with the roots, history and development of design management, the 12-week lecture and workshop programme explains where design can be found in companies large and small, its relationships with marketing and other departments, how design is used to deliver business goals, and the importance of measuring design effectiveness.

The module discusses the use of new product development, service design and the link between design, branding and innovation. Cost and value of design, global versus local and the impact of e-commerce and digital branding are also considered in a future context. Importantly, the differences and the inter-dependence of design leadership and design management are discussed with the help of guest speakers and contemporary case studies.

Branding Strategy

We explore how brands are built or rebuilt through design, how brands can be analysed both from a consumer and financial perspective. We discuss the importance of user experience, internal cultures in off-line and virtual communities; we consider specialist areas such as place branding or luxury fashion brands, how adding value through brand extensions. We investigate the rise of social media, digital, sensory experiences, plus emerging concepts such as brand spirituality or sociability and their impact on society and brands.

Innovation Strategy and Management

This module explores how design could be a catalyst for various types of innovation ranging from new products/services, right through to a new way of running an organisation. It enables students to evaluating user needs and market demands, and discusses key factors influencing innovation development, such as digital economy, sustainability, collaborative economy and social responsibility. It also investigates emerging practices and processes in the field of design, innovation and management in order to help students develop appropriate strategic directions for innovation and innovation culture.

Design Research

Rigorous research is required for all kinds of strategic planning. This module helps students develop research skills and knowledge, which will prepare them for practical research in organisations/consultancies and academic research if they wish to continue their studies at the doctorate level. It explores the role and application of design research and its relationship with creative thinking. It also introduces a wide range of tools to address and solve problems and develop design opportunities within a realistic commercial and/or social context. It enables students to formulate appropriate methodologies for design strategy and pragmatic solutions.

Phase Two Modules: Taught/Tutored (January - April)

Design Branding Futures (Taught)

Design Futures is a uniquely delivered module that explores futures scenarios and the role design could play in shaping society and enabling new technologies. Working in teams and on self-chosen topics, the module involves around nine weeks of facilitated workshops supported by both internal lectures - and an extensive programme of external guest lecturers, by experts drawn from some of the world’s leading brand, innovation and design organisations. This exciting module culminates in students describing their vision of the future as part of a team presentation and expressing their own, personal views through the preparation of a creative Reflective Log.

Personal Project with Supervision (Tutored)

Using the learning from Phase One, each student is supported to formulate an individual design-led project under personal supervision and workshop support. The aim of the personal project is to encourage problem-based learning and enable students to develop key skills further - e.g. conduct a thorough investigation, carry out a critical evaluation of chosen subjects, and integrate research outcomes to create design-led strategic directions. Students are given support to seek placements and direct professional contacts as appropriate. Outcomes are expected to be of a strategic nature and may include future design concepts, models/tools, and frameworks for effective use of design.

Phase Three Module: Student-led (May - August)

Design Dissertation

This module provides students opportunities to develop and demonstrate sophisticated and advanced knowledge about the role of strategic design in innovation and/or branding. They are expected to carry out research and present a coherent dissertation on current and challenging issues relevant to design management, branding and/or innovation. The deliverables are expected to be critical and creative, well written and suitably visual thesis to demonstrate the ability to address a carefully formulated design strategic issue. It will include evidence of a sound rationale, analysis and evaluation, integrated creative thinking related to methods and/or design concepts.

Rich Design

A term we use to describe a multitude of extracurricular activities which students can have the opportunity to engage. No two years are ever the same, so the following are a few of the activities from this and last year:

  • Made in Brunel ‘Masters 2025’ mega workshop event
  • Competitions sponsored by BT, KFC, Heathrow Airport, Crown Packaging
  • Presenting at Innovation Workshop for major supermarket brands
  • Facilitators for University / Industry Digital Event
  • L*unchBox Workshop in France (started in 2008)
  • Co-Innovate sponsored presentations to industry groups from Korea, Brazil and elsewhere
  • Participants in ‘international brand research’ led by major brand group
  • Internships
  • Industry and University Research workshops (participants/facilitators).

Read more about the structure of postgraduate degrees at Brunel and what you will learn on the course.

Special Features

Brazilian week - We host an annual visit from top Brazilian designers, with joint activities organised with Brunel students. It’s an extremely exciting and rewarding experience for both our students and visitors.

Eminent speakers - Every year, our ‘Design Futures’ event offers students the chance to use their research to find design-based solutions to issues facing the world. Design Futures also features eminent guest speakers from all aspects of the design profession, who offer their views on the future of design and its role in meeting global challenges.

Industry and professional focus: London is arguably the most important design and creative capital in the world. Brunel Masters plays a key part in this vibrant landscape. Consequently students leave with a realistic and cutting edge set of skills and knowledge. A world renowned consultancy has praised Brunel design graduates for their ability to ‘hit the ground running’ – meaning they start work understanding modern branding and are able to immediately contribute to strategic thinking within a company.

International flavour: Our MA Design courses draw a truly international mix of students, creating a diverse pool of creative talent at Brunel that attracts employers.


The MA Design courses at Brunel have established links with industry. Every year the MA Team run a Design Futures module, which gives students a chance to explore future trends and scenarios, and to use research in order to find design-based solutions to issues facing the world.

As part of this initiative they invite eminent guest speakers from all aspects of the design profession to come to Brunel and give the students their views of the future, and the role that design will play in meeting global challenges. Speakers in recent years have included Sir Terence Conran, Sir George Cox, Lord Michael Bichard and Wally Olins, to name a few.

The MA Design staff also work closely with several branding and innovation consultancies, for instance, Design Bridge, NewEdge and Jane Wentworth Associates. The course also has a good relationship with trade association organisations such as Design Business Association (DBA). Working closely with these organisations has resulted in student projects, internships/work placements and also graduate employment positions.

In the words of one of our close partner consultancies, ‘We choose Brunel Masters students because they hit the ground running’. Our approach is to blend academic research and theory with sound practitioner expertise both in terms of our teaching team and our invited guest speakers.

We believe our graduates are highly skilled and well-motivated enough to make a meaningful creative and strategic contribution to any business from their first day. This might explain why many of our alumni now work for some of the world’s leading consultancies including Saffron, New Edge, Design Bridge, Imagination & Seymour Powell, as well as ‘blue-chip’ companies such as Lenovo, Samsung, British Airways, The Virgin Group, Dyson & HSBC amongst others. Some like Brunel so much they elect to stay on with us for a few more years and study design research for their PhD.


MA graduates hold positions in some of the world’s most prestigious agencies and organisations:

Saffron, Imagination, Interbrand, The Brand Union, Sapient Nitro, Macmillan Cancer, Proctor & Gamble, Shell, Instituto Ethos, LG Electronics, LBi Australia, Flamingo, Asus, Point-Blank International, ebay, Yahoo, ICC Lowe Zurich, The Brand Team, John Lewis, Modern Atlanta, Brabantia, Nokia, Hexagon, Bentley Motors, Weber Shandwick, BBH London, CIA Inc, Kohler Mira, Nasty Gal, Saudi Aramco, Nestle Korea, JKR, Virgo Communications Inc (Caribbean), LinkedIn, Rufus Leonard, WPR Beauty Spa Cosmetic,, Huawei, Amazon, BBC 3, Orange, Axiom, Samsung, Rapp Collins Athens, Cheil worldwide, Shiseido, Barnardo's, FutureBrand, Unilever, Leo Burnett, Kempinski Hotels,, Truphone, Nike Colombia.

At Brunel we provide many opportunities and experiences within your degree programme and beyond – work-based learning, professional support services, volunteering, mentoring, sports, arts, clubs, societies, and much, much more – and we encourage you to make the most of them, so that you can make the most of yourself.

» More about Employability

Fees for 2015/6 entry

UK/EU students: £8,000 full-time; £4,000 part-time

International students: £16,500 full-time; £8,250 part-time

Read about funding opportunities available to postgraduate students

UK/EU students can opt to pay in six equal monthly instalments: the first instalment is payable on enrolment and the remaining five by Direct Debit or credit/debit card.

Overseas students can opt to pay in two instalments: 60% on enrolment, and 40% in January for students who commence their course in September (or the remaining 40% in March for selected courses that start in January).

Fees quoted are per annum and are subject to an annual increase.

Entry Requirements

A UK first or second class Honours degree or equivalent internationally recognised qualification in a design or a closely related creative discipline. Other subjects with relevant work experience will be assessed on an individual basis.

Entry criteria are subject to review and change each academic year.

International and EU

If your country or institution is not listed or if you are not sure whether your institution is eligible, please contact Admissions

This information is for guidance only by Brunel University London and by meeting the academic requirements does not guarantee entry for our courses as applications are assessed on case-by-case basis.

English Language Requirements

  • IELTS: 6.5 (min 6 in all areas)
  • Pearson: 58 (51 in all subscores)
  • BrunELT: 65% (min 60% in all areas)

Brunel University London strongly recommends that if you will require a Tier 4 visa, you sit your IELTS test at a test centre that has been approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) as being a provider of a Secure English Language Test (SELT). Not all test centres have this status. The University can accept IELTS (with the required scores) taken at any official test centre or other English Language qualifications we accept as meeting our main award entry requirements.

However, if you wish to undertake a Pre-sessional English course to further improve your English prior to the start of your degree course, you must sit the test at an approved SELT provider. This is because you will only be able to apply for a Tier 4 student visa to undertake a Pre-sessional English course if you hold a SELT from a UKVI approved test centre. Find out more information about it.

Brunel also offers our own BrunELT English Test and accepts a range of other language courses. We also have Pre-sessional English language courses for students who do not meet these requirements, or who wish to improve their English.

Our International Pathways and Language Centre offers a number of foundation and pre-masters courses to provide you with the academic skills required for your chosen course.

Page last updated: Thursday 12 November 2015