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The Secret Power of Brands

Understand the role of brands and brand management in the modern world, and start developing your career in the sector.

100,326 enrolled on this course

The Secret Power of Brands
  • Duration

    6 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours
  • 100% online

    Learn at your own paceHow it works
  • Unlimited

    $15.83/monthLearn more

Brands are the most potent commercial and cultural force on the planet. Think McDonald’s, Apple, Manchester United, Tate, Google or Harry Potter. Get under the skin of such brands, and ask how and why they become so powerful.

The University of East Anglia has teamed up with influential brand consultancy Wolff Olins to bring you this course, led by renowned consultant Robert Jones.

You’ll learn from practitioners at companies like Virgin and Google. You’ll get a rich mixture of theory and practical tools as well as insights and methods from the converging worlds of technology, design and brand.

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  • Week 1

    How brands work

    • Welcome on board

      The journey starts here. Let’s start by critically exploring the role brands play in our everyday lives. Try to stand back from yourself and look at the brands all around you, then reflect on and analyse what you see.

    • Defining brand

      We’ll interrogate the notion of ‘brand’ by hearing from different perspectives. As you watch and read, think about things that the various ideas have in common, and about differences or even contradictions.

    • How brands make an impact

      We’ll analyse how brand can help organisations make money and do good. Reflect on the way brands influence how you think, feel and act. And critically assess our model of how brands make their impact.

  • Week 2

    How brands are managed

    • The branding industry

      We’ll explore the players and shape of the branding industry. Consider the forces for change in this industry – and in particular the growing power of the consumer. Think how the people you meet this week approach the issues.

    • The changing world of brand management

      Here we focus on the discipline of brand management – and how it's changing. Think about the word 'management': is it too mechanistic a label?

    • Managing multiple brands

      Few brands operate in isolation. We’ll explore the whole complicated topic of brand architecture: managing multiple brands. When two brands are seen working together, consider what happens to the meaning of each.

  • Week 3

    How brands get defined

    • How brands begin

      In the first of two creative weeks, we take a look at the origins of some great brands. Consider the role of these founding stories in constructing the meaning of the brands today.

    • Brand projects

      We look at exactly how a brand project in a company gets started. We then look at the people involved, and the kinds of plan they work to. How far should plans be tightly defined, how far should they be loose and open-ended?

    • Defining a brand

      We’ll analyse the different models that companies use to help define their brands, and propose a model, the three Ps. Think about how you'd assess the different models, and how you'd decide which is most useful.

  • Week 4

    How brands get designed

    • Great brand design

      In the second of two creative weeks, we focus on design, why it matters, and what makes the greatest great. Consider the various meanings of 'design', from surface decoration to deep thinking about purpose and function.

    • The four dimensions of brand design

      We’ll analyse the many ways in which design creates a powerful brand identity. How complete is our model? Are there other dimensions you'd add? Which dimensions make most impact?

    • The fluid processes that lead to great brand design

      We try to pin down the elusive methods by which design happens – and you get a chance to do some brand design work of your own. How far is it possible to construct a model to explain the creative process?

  • Week 5

    How brands drive organisations

    • Brand-led

      As we start to analyse how businesses use brand, we’ll look at the idea of a ‘brand-led business’ – and at the alternatives. Think critically about this concept: how many organisations really are brand-led?

    • The four quadrants

      We’ll explore the tool that Wolff Olins uses to help clients translate their brand idea into action, right across the business. This tool was designed originally for v4 brands: how well does it capture the realities of a v5 brand?

    • Brand, innovation and change

      We’ll find out in depth how companies use brand to help innovate, and to help adapt to change. Think critically about the advantages - and limitations - of using brand to guide the actions of employees.

  • Week 6

    Where brands are going next

    • The future of brands

      As we start to assess the future of branding, we’ll find out why the brands of the last few years are different, and how they work. Think about this critically: is it too soon to form a theory about these very recent developments?

    • Your personal brand

      We’ll explore your own brand, and help you plan for your future life in branding. Consider how well our approach to branding businesses applies to branding individual people.

    • The journey continues

      This is the only the beginning. We’ll explore many ways to pursue your fascination for brands. As we reach the end of this journey, think about why branding is so fascinating to so many.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explain what a brand is, and how it influences people’s actions
  • Describe the shape, and the changing dynamics, of the branding industry
  • Start to build a brand by defining a sense of purpose
  • Evaluate the role of design in branding, and the four dimensions on which it works
  • Assess the advantages and techniques of brand-led management
  • Imagine the future of branding, and start to build your personal brand

Who is the course for?

If you’re developing a career in branding -­ or if you work in a related area, like strategy, marketing or innovation -­ this course is for you. It will support your professional development, and also provide you with a taste of what taking a Masters in branding or brand management would be like.

What do people say about this course?

"I started taking notes at the beginning of the course and looking back over them I am amazed at the ground that was covered. I'm hoping to find time to type them up (not a small job) then put them to good use when helping my small and medium-sized business clients build their own brands. Thank you, again."

"I've learnt some really strong practical skills, like using the brand butterfly. I've actually started to use it to educate some of my clients, and think more carefully about their respective brands"

Who will you learn with?

Robert is a strategist at Wolff Olins, the brand consultants in London, and a visiting professor at the University of East Anglia, UK.

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Who developed the course?

UEA (University of East Anglia)

The University of East Anglia is an internationally renowned university providing top quality academic, social and cultural facilities to over 15,000 students from over 100 countries around the globe.


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Billed annually at $189.99/year

Endless possibilities!

  • Access to this course
  • Access to ALL eligible short courses with additional benefits, for a year
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Certificate when you're eligible

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Basic access


Try before you buy

  • Limited access to course content for 8 weeks

Find out more about certificates, Upgrades or Unlimited.

Available until 22 November 2021 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

Find out more about certificates, Upgrades or Unlimited.

Available until 22 November 2021 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

Learning on FutureLearn

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  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps, but you can complete them as quickly or slowly as you like
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  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

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  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
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  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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