Brandcenter siblings, from top left: Alyn Carr (CBM, 2019) and Joseph Carr (ST, 2015); Chris Colliton (XD, 2012) and Jason Colliton (CW, 2021); Jeffrey Gottwald (XD, 2015) and Russ Gottwald (CBM, 2013); Joelle Halle (XD, 2019) and Samantha Halle (ST, 2016); Lee Jennings (AD, 2005) and Stuart Jennings (AD, 2003); Edo Ohayon (CW, 2022) and Yotam Ohayon (CW, 2020)
We call our Brandcenter community the #BrandFam because it's truly like a family. The #BrandFam is always willing to step up and help another through mentorship, sharing job leads, or offering general advice. But there are some who take #BrandFam to the next level—a number of students have siblings who also attended the Brandcenter.
Hear from a few Brandcenter siblings below as they discuss what it’s like sharing the Brandcenter connection and similar career paths with their brother or sister.
Alyn Carr (CBM, 2019) and Joseph Carr (ST, 2015)
Known as “the Carr kids” throughout grade school, siblings Alyn and Joseph shared a number of the same teachers and played the same sports growing up. When time came to look at career options, Alyn became interested in brand management after seeing her brother, Joseph, complete his graduate degree at the Brandcenter.
“The advice I offered when she was accepted was just to be herself. The type of person she is, her passions, those are the things that'll make her the best brand manager, and push her in the right direction (whatever right is for her).”
Joseph Carr, strategist at Arts & Letters Creative Co.
"I never really ‘rode on his coattails,’ so to speak. Joe did the Strategy concentration and I went into Creative Brand Management—so there was a little overlap with the professors we had. But, I think that just knowing that he was able to make it through the whole experience was something I was grateful for. It gave me strength.”
Alyn Carr, senior manager of marketing and branding at Richmond Kickers
Chris Colliton (XD, 2012) and Jason Colliton (CW, 2021)
Jason knew that the Brandcenter was a special place thanks to his brother, Chris. Jason saw Chris turn creativity into a career and was intrigued to do the same almost ten years later. As a current second year, Jason thinks it’s funny to see work Chris has done get brought up in class or at a Friday Forum.
“I was so pumped when I heard Jason was accepted. He'd always been a really funny and creative kid, and I knew the Brandcenter would whip him into advertising shape. But I warned him: check your ego at the door. It's easy to think you're a big deal when you get accepted, but as everyone finds out quite quickly, you don't know anything. Yet.”
Chris Colliton, creative director at 72andSunny New York
“In fifth grade, I lost my school's Vice Presidential election school because the guy I was running against had a very funny speech. The next year I decided I'd ask my 21-year-old brother to ghostwrite my speech for the Presidential campaign. Chris, who's never had any problem rigging elementary school elections, did it, and I still lost. But what can I say? Billy knew how to run a great campaign, he won fair and square.”
Jason Colliton, second-year Brandcenter student
Jeffrey Gottwald (XD, 2015) and Russ Gottwald (CBM, 2013)
During Russ’s third semester at the Brandcenter, his brother, Jeffrey, began to show an interest in the program. After Russ introduced Jeffrey to some of the faculty and showed him the application, Jeffrey was immediately hooked.
“At the time, the first question on the [XD] concentration application was ‘Did you take the telephone apart as a kid?’ I was sold—[as a kid] I didn't stop with the phone, I dismantled anything I could lay my hands on until my parents locked up the tools, and then I dismantled the lock.”
Jeffrey Gottwald, senior consultant UX/UI design with IBM Sponsored Events
“I immediately believed that XD was the perfect fit for [Jeffrey], so it was great to hear he'd gotten in. It's great having him to bounce ideas off of. Being brothers who went to Brandcenter around the same time means we have a doubly-powerful set of shared references. As for silly stories, there was this one time that [redacted].”
Russ Gottwald, advertising faculty member at the University of South Carolina
Joelle Halle (XD, 2019) and Samantha Halle (ST, 2016)
Joelle Halle almost didn’t apply to the Brandcenter, not wanting to be compared to her older sister, Samantha, who had already graduated from the program. But after talking it through with her sibling and seeing what a transformative experience it had been for her, she couldn't miss out on the opportunity.
The sisters say that by the end of their combined four years at the Brandcenter, their mom had participated in so many surveys and research efforts that she's basically an honorary brand expert.
“At first, like any good big sister, I pushed Joelle a bit to make sure this is really what SHE wanted. We then had conversations about the type of work an art director does relative to an experience designer. Other than that, I'm sure I gave plenty of solicited and unsolicited advice along the way. Things like... Meet with your professors!! Practice hearing hard feedback. Don't spend all of your time in the basement. Film every Rube Goldberg attempt. Babysitting is a good side hustle. Learn how to make killer presentations and Keynote prototypes.”
Samantha Halle, brand strategist at Facebook
“Sam helped me feel more confident during my time at Brandcenter and while job hunting. Whether it was as a sounding board, a proofreader, or a mock interviewer, she always made me feel more prepared and capable. It's great to have someone in your corner who is going to be super honest with you. She knows when to push me and when to cheer me on.”
Joelle Halle, product designer at Kroger Corporate
Lee Jennings (AD, 2005) and Stuart Jennings (AD, 2003)
Identical twins working at the same agency—on different sides of the country.
Brothers Lee and Stuart Jennings say attending the Brandcenter was the best career decision either of them has ever made. They look enough alike that people in the advertising world often mistake one for the other, though they aren’t complaining about it. “Getting remembered or recognized twice as often is always a good thing as long as it’s for good reasons,” says the brothers.
The identical twins have always “tried to be different from each other. But we still ended up doing the exact same thing only in different places. We both work for Wieden and Kennedy. One in the Portland office, the other in the New York office. It’s great. We both met our wives at Wieden and both have a son. We joke that there are six Jennings’s on the Wieden healthcare plan.”
“I remember when he told me that he applied and was accepted. We had no idea how an ad agency worked, much less how to get a job at one. He described what an art director did and I was like, ‘Man, we'd kill that.’ We were both stuck in separate "Office Space" jobs, but now I was going to be the only one stuck in that cubicle. He totally saved me by making that move first.”
Lee Jennings, art director at Wieden and Kennedy Portland
“I thought [attending Brandcenter] was a great idea [for Lee] and was super excited for him when he got accepted. The day he moved to Richmond was the day that I moved from Richmond to New York City. A seamless transition for the faculty at the school. He didn’t need any advice from me. I knew he’d do great. Either that, or I didn’t have any wisdom to share.”
Stuart Jennings, creative director at Wieden and Kennedy New York
Edo Ohayon (CW, 2022) and Yotam Ohayon (CW, 2020)
Copywriters and brothers, Yotam and Edo already share one client together: their family restaurant, Forma Pasta.
Their father tasked the sons with coming up with a name and brand identity for the Brooklyn restaurant, as well as managing all of their marketing efforts. After several rounds of pitching, they landed on Forma Pasta and have had the fortune of watching that business grow into its third year.
"I spoke to Yoyo on the phone nearly every day during his first month at Brandcenter. I could tell there was nothing else he’d rather be doing. He was actually enjoying the work, and naturally I was envious. In his last semester, he called me from the Brandcenter basement, asking for ideas on how to make beef feel sexy, and I thought, “I can see myself doing this.” Towards the end of the call, he mentioned a Jamaican restaurant nearby that makes homemade roti skin. I started looking at the Brandcenter application later that week."
Edo Ohayon, first-year Brandcenter student
“[When Edo got into the Brandcenter] I felt joy, followed by relief. I felt like the friends and family you see watching the NBA draft. He put a lot of importance on his decision to apply, and a lot of effort into his application, so it was both exciting and relieving to see his efforts rewarded. The consistent piece of advice I offered was ‘Have fun.’ It can be easy to forget that you’re in a school setting, with no client budgets on the line, or promotions at stake. You have this sort of diplomatic immunity if an assignment doesn’t meet expectations, so use it, and enjoy the process.”
Yotam Ohayon, creative at Arts & Letters Creative Co.