Although students from the MPS Branding Department participated in SVA’s 2011 commencement exercises, coursework continued through the summer as the inaugural class completed a seven-month-long thesis. Rather than individual projects, “students were commissioned by Procter & Gamble, the world’s leading consumer package goods company, to develop branding concepts for one of their global beauty brands,” explained Debbie Millman, chair of the MPS Branding Department. “They were tasked with ‘thinking big’ and to communicate the brand’s purpose via events, on shelf and online.” On July 20, invited guests joined senior executives from Procter & Gamble as all 23 students from the department shared their thesis work in a polished group presentation.
At the reception following the event, a few of the graduates-to-be remarked on the uniqueness of the MPS Branding Department. “A lot of the students in the program contemplated an MBA,” said Jessie McGuire. “What made this program different was that it had a design element to it. The program is focused on the actual process behind design thinking, which is understanding how creative concepts come to life. The program teaches how design can move business objectives forward.”
“Brands can bring a lot of meaning into people’s lives if done correctly and ethically,” said Abby McInerney. “A brand is not a logo, it’s so much more. There’s a very thorough approach to research, to understanding who your audience is. What they do in their regular lives. How that affects what your brand does. What is true about your brand.” These are just a few of the concepts students were challenged with during their year of study.
Reflecting on the end of the program’s first year, Millman said, “This far exceeded my expectations. When I co-founded the program with Steven Heller, one of my long-term goals was to develop partnerships with some of the greatest corporations in the world. It was an incredible and unbelievable opportunity to work with Procter & Gamble. I still can’t believe that our first thesis out of the gate was so big and so successful.”
Image: (first) MPS Branding Department students Natasha Saipradist, Daniel Lin, Maxine Gurevich and Kathryn Spitzberg at reception; (second) Debbie Millman and students at presentation rehearsal; (third) MPS Branding Department student Noah Armstrong in class. All photos by MPS Branding Department faculty member Scott Lerman.