The University of Texas at Austin opens Center for Brand Research; first research conference to include branding experts, Michael Dell

Feb. 17, 2003

AUSTIN, Texas—To gain a clearer understanding of the cultural and economic power of brands, the Department of Advertising in the College of Communication at The University of Texas at Austin has started the Center for Brand Research and scheduled its first executive-level conference, “Branding and Rebranding in the 21st Century: A Transdisciplinary Approach.”

“The center’s primary objective is to provide research opportunities that deal with both the development of branding theory and the practice of branding,” said Neal M. Burns, the center’s director. “This will be achieved by integrating academic and practical knowledge of the branding paradigm through the study of best practices, case studies, real world analysis and partnership with a wide range of thought leaders.”

In addition to facilitating research, the center will disseminate research results through conferences and other activities, and will provide graduate and undergraduate students with training opportunities and access to industry experts. The center also will offer researchers, practitioners and management a venue for study, integration of experience and the opportunity to cross-fertilize current issues with developing theory. Residence at the center can range from a period of three days to full semester participation.

“The Center for Brand Research will offer each department within the College of Communication—as well as departments throughout the university—a supportive infrastructure for interdisciplinary research,” said Ellen Wartella, dean of the College of Communication. “We will seek extramural research funds to carry out university and public service programs.”

The first conference to be produced by the Center for Brand Research, “Branding and Rebranding in the 21st Century: A Transdisciplinary Approach,” takes place May 7-9 at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and LBJ Library at The University of Texas at Austin.

“Because so many institutions—from major corporations to the nation itself—are undergoing revision and re-examination, opportunities for examining relevance and re-branding are major communication challenges,” Burns said. “Hence the theme for our inaugural conference.”

Sponsored by the Center for Brand Research, IC2 Institute for Innovation Creativity and Capital, and the Texas Space Grant Consortium, the conference features some of the top professional and academic minds in branding tackling the practical and intellectual branding questions of the day, such as:

  • Can issues like our national character, higher education and spirituality be considered brands?
  • What will be the changing consumer preferences in this evolving cultural landscape?
  • When is rebranding necessary?
  • What is the social science that helps make an old brand contemporary?

This executive-level conference aims to deliver fresh perspectives on contemporary issues facing many organizations and is ideal for agency and corporate management, start-up businesses, retail enterprises, educators, clergy and those who are concerned with image, substance and consumer behavior. Speakers scheduled to present include:

  • Andy Berlin, chairman, co-chief executive and chief creative officer of Berlin Cameron/Red Cell
  • Michael Dell, chairman and CEO of Dell Computer Corporation
  • Kurt Eichenwald, noted author and journalist at The New York Times
  • Clyde Fessler, recently retired VP business development of Harley-Davidson
  • Lee Lynch, founder and CEO of Carmichael Lynch
  • Keith Reinhard, chairman of DDB Worldwide
  • Roy Spence, founder and president of GSD&M
  • Linda Wolf, chairman and CEO of Leo Burnett Worldwide

For specific information on conference pricing and speakers, please visit the Center for Brand Research Web site.

For more information contact: Erin Geisler, College of Communication, 512-475-8071.