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February 6, 2020

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Brandcenter Welcomes Dr. Brian Brown, Creative Brand Management Professor

This spring, VCU Brandcenter welcomes Dr. Brian Brown as a new professor in the Creative Brand Management concentration. Dr. Brown joins the Brandfam from the VCU School of Business where he teaches brand strategy and marketing management. Prior to VCU, Brian taught at the University of Massachusetts Amherst for four years and spent 15 years in the corporate world at places like Coca-Cola and Snapper Power Equipment.

Two of our second-year students sat down with Dr. Brown to talk about running, work rituals and joining Brandcenter.


Is there a place or time where you get your best ideas?

My best ideas come when I’m on a run. A lot of folks run with a group, but for me, running is my time. It’s a time for solitude. I prefer to run along the James River where I can clear my head or maybe come up with some good ideas — and maybe some bad ideas. I don’t listen to music; it’s just me and nature. Just running.


Do you have any other work rituals or creative rituals?

I come in to the office to get work done. I could work from home or a coffee shop, but being in the office gets me focused and ready to work. I like to keep my work and home life separate. I come in, get it done, leave. Maybe that’s my work ritual. I don’t know if it’s such a creative space, but it’s a productive space.


Let's pretend that you have a sanity closet, filled with all of the things that keep you sane. What's in the closet?

Well the irony of my sanity closet is that my family would need to be there, and they would probably add to the craziness of it all. But they keep me sane; I do what I do for my family. I have two teenage kids: one is a senior in high school, one is almost 15. They’re fun. And I’ve been married for twenty years — my wife, Nikki,  keeps me sane too. I also count on my friends and my faith to keep me sane, to stay positive and not get too anxious or stressed out.

But beyond those folks, I’d need a good book of fiction. I’m supposed to be this business guy, but that’s just my job! Right now I’m reading a novel called “There There” by Tommy Orange, a Native American author, so it offers a fascinating perspective. And of course there’s some intrigue and adventure in it, too.

My running shoes would definitely be in my sanity closet, as well as my music: old school R&B, classic rock, and Bob Marley, who takes me back to my Jamaican roots. Oh, and also SportsCenter.


What do you love about teaching?

I love the idea that I might be helping someone. Even if it’s not right then, if I help someone eventually achieve their goal or aspiration, that’s really fulfilling to me. I love having the opportunity to share an idea, whether it’s content or an experience I’ve had. Sometimes when I say, “you know, this is what happened to me when I was interviewing,” students really start listening. They perk up when I start talking about something practical. Feeling like there might be an idea or insight I have that could be beneficial to someone is very fulfilling. Beyond that? Teaching is fun. I want to make my class a fun learning environment, so that’s what I’m always striving for.


Why are you excited to be at Brandcenter?

As teachers, we’re always urging students to put themselves in uncomfortable positions, to keep learning. Life is about continuing to learn and not getting complacent. After years of saying that to my students, I know I need to practice it myself.

For me, the Brandcenter is a new environment, a new opportunity, new demands. And that’s exciting! I’m already learning from students and the other professors. I’ve already started building relationships with some of the students. I also like being a bridge to the VCU School of Business; I want there to be an exchange of ideas between the two schools and that’s energizing to me, too. I’ve been here at VCU at the School of Business for nine years and I think the new experience and the new challenge is going to be good for me and for the students.


Special thanks to Rachel Curry (CW, 2020) and Emmaline Terry (AD, 2020) for the interview and photo.