Brandcenter’s experience design track meshes interaction design with brand management

Sterling Giles
Contributing Writer

VCU’s Brandcenter is a unique space for students pursuing their master’s in creative advertising. The center hosts five tracks: art direction, copywriting, creative brand management, strategy and most recently, experience design. The XD track is intended to improve the brand experience for future clients. Photo by Brooke Marsh

The VCU Brandcenter, a master’s program for creative advertising and one of the nation’s best student advertising firms, has adopted a new track to further improve the brand experience for potential clients.

The experience design (XD) track was introduced earlier this year to replace the creative technology track and increase development and innovation.

“The experience design track is the bridge between interaction design and branding,” said board member Rick Webb. “The Brandcenter implementing this track is a massive step in ensuring that solid brand management doesn’t lose its way in a world of infinite touchpoints.”

Webb and fellow board member Jeff Steinhour said they are thoroughly impressed with the success of the center thus far and are pleased with the fledgling XD track.

“The real-world learning and experience offered by the Brandcenter is second-to-none,” Steinhour said. He added that he believes that the knowledge acquired at the Brandcenter is par-none to other firms around the nation.

The Brandcenter is currently divided into five tracks: art direction, copywriting, creative brand management, experience design and strategy.

Each concentration is open to applicants of any major, although Andrew LeVasseur, an experience design professor, said most students involved in these programs are primarily business or advertising majors.

LeVasseur brings to the table more than 20 years of experience in the field of advertising where he led companies including Microsoft, Best Buy and Barclays to create global brands and applied designs.

“I love the transformative nature of great design,” LeVasseur said. “I love that with applied design thinking, we can solve real business problems. And with applied design craft, we can make our collective experiences better.”

The Brandcenter opted to vacate a portion of the basement and construct a new design studio to accommodate XD students. The changes to the center have also included encouraging students and faculty to become more engaged in the community.

An example of this re-vamped effort is the Brandcenter’s recent Tech+ campaign, which launched Dec. 5. The focus of the campaign was to innovate and construct new toys for children by studying their electrical components.

“Along with changing some of the curriculum, we are trying to do more service for the public and for other industries as well,” said Carl Joseph, an advertising student who is involved in the new XD track. Joseph further expressed that the center underwent a major facelift in order to improve its negotiations and ideas.

For future endeavors in the Tech + program, the center would like to pursue fashion, music, and sports and recreation.

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