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Application Prompts

Below are the admission application prompts for the Fall 2021 Brandcenter Supplemental application.

 

NOTE: All application materials must be submitted online. See our admissions page for application steps. 

 

MY STORY SO FAR - PERSONAL STATEMENT PROMPTS

Applicants must complete ALL of the prompts below for the online application to be uploaded to the VCU Graduate School Application

In an uploaded document, please address the following. Feel free to make the presentation as creative as you’d like:

  • Tell us briefly what piqued your interest in doing creative work on behalf of brands? (300 words or less)

  • Tell us briefly where you are from and when you knew you needed to come to the Brandcenter (200 words or less)

  • What single attribute of yours will help you most at the Brandcenter? (100 words or less) 

  • Brandcenter has 8 Guiding Principles (see below). Pick one attribute and explain how it applies to you. (300 words or less) 

  1. NONCONFORMITY. The Brandcenter is filled with the spirit of innovators, pioneers, and benevolent rebels who innately do things in  new, surprising, original, and unorthodox ways. We’ll always be “a little bit rogue.”

  2. POSSIBILITY. We create it. We harness it. We believe a sense of possibility is a force multiplier.

  3. CREATIVITY. We use creativity as our primary operating strategy. We look at each challenge as a chance to create something new.

  4. GRIT. We work an extra hour, write another draft, consult another resource. We see preparation as an act of respect–to the work and to each other.

  5. COURAGE. We know that the easy answer isn’t always the right answer; we make hard choices and consider difficult challenges, and we know sometimes we have to make courageous choices.

  6. COLLABORATION. We know that one of us is never as good as more of us; we seek each other’s gifts, we contribute our own, and we’re open to true collaboration to create more powerful outcomes.

  7. HUMILITY. No matter how much we believe in our ideas, no matter how prepared we are, no matter how proud we are of our work, we know that we can always do better.

  8. PURPOSE. We’re driven by purpose. We don’t just create ideas – we’re driven to understand the underlying challenges and find elegant solutions to complex problems.
  • Tell us where you hope this degree will take you. (100 words or less)

CONCENTRATION-SPECIFIC PROMPTS

Applicants may only apply to one of our five programs of study. Applicants must complete ALL of the prompts for their chosen area (see below), and will complete the questions via an online application portal.

Art direction

  1. Provide an example of either a) a visual artist you admire and why, or b) a favorite character from film or television that you admire and why. (250 words or less)
  2. Choose a produced campaign you like. Explain in 1-2 sentences what the big idea (concept) is that the campaign is trying to convey. Now, go a step further and share 3 different media examples from that same campaign (i.e. social, video, physical experiences, stunts, events, 2_d, direct mail, etc.) and explain how the execution communicates or enhances the original concept.
  3. Show 5 examples of your original work. Include the details of each concept and how your final execution came to be the one that best conveys your desired outcome. You can submit ads, art, video, anything that best highlights your conceptual abilities and skill set.
  4. Create a visually-driven campaign for one of the following brands. For the campaign, create pieces of communication in three different mediums that visually communicate the desired message of that product or brand. Choose from one of five brands below for your campaign:

- Milk: Drink milk for healthy bones

- Serta: The softest mattress you can buy

- Smartcar: The smartcar is so small, it makes you look at cars differently.

- The End Hot Sauce: So hot, it might be the last hot sauce you ever try.

- Scott’s EZ Seed: Grows grass anywhere.

 

Please provide a succinctly written concept statement and explanation that shares the thinking behind each piece you have created.

 

5. Optional : Link to portfolio (if you have one)

 

 

Copywriting

  1. Provide an example of either a) writer that you admire and why or B) a favorite character from film or television that you admire and why. (250 words or less)
  2. Choose a produced campaign you like. Explain in 1-2 sentences what the big idea (concept) is that the campaign is trying to convey. Now, go a step further and share 3 different media examples from that same campaign (i.e. social, video, physical experiences, stunts, events, 2_d, direct mail, etc.) and explain how the execution communicates or enhances the original concept. (250 words or less)
  3. Choose from one of the following three brand voice’s on twitter: Netflix (see sample tweets), Denny’s (see sample tweets), Bumble (see sample tweets). Write five additional and distinct social posts in the voice of the brand you choose.
  4. Please submit an example of a longer form piece of writing that you have done. (short story, editorial/opinion, screenplay, poetry, humor piece, etc.)
  5. Show 3-5 examples of your original work. Include the details of each concept and how your final execution came to be the one that best conveys your desired outcome. You can submit ads, art, video, social posts, etc. - anything that best highlights your conceptual abilities and skill set.
  6. Optional: Link to portfolio (if you have one)

Creative brand management

Please provide your answers in no more than two smart, crisply written paragraphs.

  1. Brooks Brothers was already struggling as a brand, with a historically narrow and high-priced view of style and fashion. Struggling so much so that the chain "threw in the towel" or rather "threw in the tattersall button down". Recently it was announced that Authentic Brand Group was buying the brand equity to give Brooks Brothers another go. What will they need to do to make this second time "the charm" to bring the brand back? Think brand voice, tonality, product selection, and new audience.
  2. Social media is coming under fire frequently for a variety of issues – cultural and racial insensitivity, turning a blind-eye to false narratives and blatant bullying, potential data breaches, and foreign “skullduggery”. What suggestions might you have for a “best practices” playbook for brands keen on the social space?
  3. Guess what?! You just got your dream job working for your all-time top brand. Tell us about that brand and what excites you about it. Please provide a website link for the brand for us to check it out. (Oh and here’s the bad news – you can’t pick Nike, Patagonia, Adidas, Spotify, Netflix, or Tesla). And now that you work there – give us a business or brand suggestion you might have.
  4. Pick one of the following brands (Pepto Bismol, Michelin Tires, Dominos, Chiquita, John Deere ). Now write 7 tweets or Instagram posts in the voice of this brand discussing, commenting, and sharing things relevant to this brand.
  5. Let's imagine that the Super Bowl will be played in February of 2021. You are the brand manager for Chevy trucks. What kind of message should you ask your agency to develop – brand, product, or greater good. Please give your justification to the Chief Financial Officer, the Chief Marketing Officer, and to the dealership owners.

Experience design

  1. Where do you look for design inspiration? Is there a recent design example that you find inspiring and why? (250 words, 1/2 page single space, can include image of the work)
  2. How would you approach, plan and solve the following design challenge? Select 1 prompt only. (max 500 words, 1 page single space)
    1. Working in front of a computer for many hours a day can lead to unhealthy physical health habits. Design a service providing personalized physical exercise and health ideas for adults working from a desk all day.
    2. Getting elementary school kids to adjust their food and nutrition choices can lead to a healthier lifestyle. Schools have the opportunity to foster good habits early on and during these formative years. Design an experience where schools can influence a students’ food choices and promote healthier habits. Consider the role of parent or caregiver.
  3. Design and present an 11X17" poster that creates awareness, adoption and use of the solution you created in the previous question.
  4. What specific design experience, capabilities or skills could you bring to the team? If you don't have a traditional design background, can you please speak to how your other experience, capabilities, and skills might transfer and be applicable? (250 words, 1/2 page single space)
  5. What experiences, capabilities or skills do you hope to learn and foster while at Brandcenter (please list both design-specific and general such as business, leadership, communication, time management)? (250 words, 1/2 page single space)

Strategy

Unless otherwise specified, please provide your answers in no more than two smart, crisply written paragraphs.

  1. Please interview (respecting the rules of social distance) 10 people about one of the following prompts. Then present what you learned and what it could mean. Your report should include demographic info on who you interviewed and what your questions were. Optional: Feel free to upload any visuals or graphics to bring your findings to life.
    • Prompt Option 1: About how they are talented or what talents they have.
    • Prompt Option 2: About their fun “guilty” pleasures.
    • Prompt Option 3: About what gives them comfort.
  2. The booming craft beer industry is overwhelmingly white and male. Is it possible to invite a more diverse audience to craft beer? What factors are standing in the way and how can they be addressed to make this shift happen? Suggest some places this new, inclusive pov should show up.
  3. Over the past few decades, superhero blockbusters have gone from the traditional tropes of good versus evil (Spider Man, 2002), to grittier “real life” reboots (Batman Begins, 2005), inclusivity (Black Panther, 2018), gender equality (Captain Marvel, 2019) all the way to superheroes as cynical, mean, and even corrupt, as seen in Deadpool (2016) or The Boys (2019). Where do you predict the genre goes next, and why? Optional: Feel free to create a presentation of your predictions – not to exceed 5 slides and uploaded in PDF format.
  4. Great News! Your dream job has arrived. You’re the newly hired strategist on a running shoe account. Unfortunately, you don’t run. Share 8-10 things you would do to get smart about this product/category and the people who buy running shoes. A list with a brief rationale for each item is the way to go. Don’t forget to go beyond the obvious.
  5. Uniqlo is a Japanese fast-fashion brand that has been successful across the globe. However, it’s been unable to find success in the US beyond its flagship stores in large cities like New York. Your agency has just landed the Uniqlo account in the US. What are three hunches you have about what’s not working and/or strategies they should employ to gain more traction?

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