Dr Ainurul Rosli and Dr Sharifah Alwi research helps to strengthen rural community capacity in Borneo

This project, in collaboration with Dr Jane Chang of Gritse Community Interest Company, contributes towards strengthening the capacity for the community to support the local economic and social development agenda in Sabah.

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The researchers work with 14 rural smallholders of Ulu Sapi community, in Beluran Sabah, Borneo to help them increase their resilience and build the community brand through entrepreneurship. The Ulu Sapi community in Sandakan, Sabah has been struggling to survive due to the fluctuation of prices in palm oil, and the lack of economic development in the area.

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The rural smallholders learnt and defined the right and meaningful distinctiveness: of who they are – individually and collectively as entrepreneur(s), and what they stand for. Due to financial resources limitation, these rural, poor and less educated independent palm oil smallholders who rely on their community to survive, actually neglect the importance of branding, particularly their community.


On the 14th Feb, 2020, the researchers presented the results to a policy maker, the Honourable YB Assaffal P. Alian, Assistant Minister of Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Department.

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From left: Puan Rosnah, YB Assaffal P. Alian, Dr Rosli and Dr Alwi. Dr Chang was sitting
on the left with the audience. The assistant minister congratulates the researchers  and the Ulu Sapi villagers


In his speech, he expressed his gratitude to the team of researchers, and stated: “Whatever we are doing today with this project is correct and I will take this programme [project] and send our team from Sabah Tourism Board to come here [to Ulu Sapi] to evaluate for product update and do any plan on what we can do together to make this work. We are not supporting you, but working with you to take this forward to grow this place.”


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Left: Researchers site visit to brand the waterfall as part of the local community offerings
Right: Pak Jefri, feeding his school of fish, a project he developed while attending the programme

To know more about the project, visit: https://www.brunel.ac.uk/research/Projects/Entrepreneurship-resilience-and-rural-community-branding

Marketing Research students received classroom visit from Industry Guests

150  students on the Marketing Research module welcomed industry guest speakers, Mr. Matt Teasdale and Ms. Ciara Pryce, from the VGC Group. The guests shared their experiences of working in marketing research, how their work relates to marketing theory, and how they understand the marketing research problems faced by their clients.

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Ms Ciara Pryce

The event was also attended by Undergraduate Marketing Program Leader, Dr. Liyuan Wei, as well as by Quantitative Methods Module Leader, Dr. Ahmed Elamer. The marketing research module leader, Dr Jessica Chelekis, who teaches alongside Dr Sharifah Alwi on this module, extended her thanks to Brunel Business School’s Employability Director, Ms. Michelle Kavan, for facilitating the introduction to the VGC group executives.

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Pictured, from left to right: Dr. Ahmed Elamer, Dr Liyuan Wei, Mr Matt Teasdale, Dr Sharifah Alwi, Ms Ciara Pryce and Dr Jessica Chelekis

If you would like to share your professional experiences with our students, or learn about our internships, please get in contact with our placements office, here.

Professor John M T Balmer and Dr Sharifah Alwi consulted on New York Times article on the monarchy

In May, a London correspondent for the New York Times consulted Brunel Business School’s monarchical marketing authority Professor John M.T. Balmer along with Dr Sharifah Alwiwho is known for her corporate branding work, apropos an article on the positive associations of the Crown on properties/districts.

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Dr Alwi provided background contexts for the article whilst the reporter drew on Professor Balmer’s published and bespoke quotes which were incorporated into the article. As such, Professor Balmer noted that “Even in countries where there is no longer a monarchy, a monarchical or Royal association can still be meaningful,” and went on to reflect, “After all, even in republican France the President still lives in a Palace.” Professor Balmer noted that Queen Elizabeth is,celebrity brand name without parallel,” and also“a global personality marque without compare.”By means of context he noted how, “HM Queen Elizabeth II has the most reproduced brand image of any individual since Jesus Christ  –  a brand profile that adorns currencies and stamps from Australia to Vanuatu, a profile that is truly global and is undeniably ubiquitous.” 


In marketing terms, Professor Balmer reflected, the British Crown’s status as a “top-notchcorporate heritage brand can directly or informally endorse not only products, services and corporations but also places that may confer distinctiveness and prestige.


With particular reference to the article’s focus Professor Balmer noted, “Traditionally the aristocracy and the wealthy wished to be near the center of Royal power so even with the passage of time an area like St James’s in London still has some of the swishest shops and residences in London.”  


The article was published on 26th June, 2019, and can be found here.


Professor John MT Balmer has written a significant number of articles on The Crown/The Monarchy as corporate brands, and aims to publish a small anthology on the territory (published by Routledge), He has also delivered a seminar of the Monarchy at Harvard Business School with Professor Stephen A. Greyser (former visiting Professor at Brunel University). In addition, he has contributed to a major overview of the British Monarchy in the leading quality German newspaper Die Weltas well as a documentary on Australian public service broadcaster ABC, and has also been approached by Sky News, among others. In a landmark study, he worked with the Swedish Monarchy (with colleagues from Harvard Business School and Lund University Sweden) in the early 2000s which resulted in the formal articulation of the Monarchy as a Corporate Brand notion along with the Corporate Heritage Brand concept.


Dr Sharifah Alwi is known for her work on corporate branding, and in particular for her published output in leading journals. Earlier on this year she has led corporate branding workshops for practitioners in Malaysia. She is particularly renowned for her scholarship on the corporate brand image notion. Until recently she was the Director of the MSc in Corporate Brand Management.

MSc Corporate Brand students invited to the head office of Caledonian Sleeper in Inverness, Scotland

As part of their three-day project field visit to Scotland, focusing on the iconic Caledonian Sleeper train service, twenty students on the MSc course in Corporate Brand Management were invited by Kim-Thain (Marketing Manager)and Jane-Spencer (Guest Relations Manager) to visit the company’s headquarters in Inverness, on January 30th.

During their visit, the postgraduate students were given presentations by Kim Thain and Jane Spencer, and this was followed by an extensive Q&A session. Earlier that morning, the students had travelled from Fort William to Inverness on a two-hour coach journey through the dramatic, snow-covered, Scottish Highland countryside and passed Loch Ness.


Photo taken in Caledonian Sleepers’ HQ showing Marketing Manager Kim-Thain and Guest Relation Manager, Jane-Spencer at Caledonian Office, Invernessalong with MSc Corporate Brand students and Dr Sharifah Alwi and Professor John M.T Balmer


The field visit was organised by Dr. Sharifah Alwi (programme leader) and Professor John MT Balmer who jointly teach the elective on Corporate Brand Management and Consulting. The organisers would like to express their sincerest appreciation to the Head of Brunel Business School, Professor Jane Hendy and to the Director for Teaching and Learning, Dr. Grigorios Theodosopoulos for their support for this academic trip.

Professor John Balmer & Dr Sharifah Alwi organise research trip on the iconic Caledonian Night Train to Scotland: “The best sleeper journey in the world”

On the evening of Monday, 28th January, 20 postgraduate students on the MSc in Corporate Brand Management boarded the celebrated Caledonian Sleeper service from London’s Euston Station to Fort William. This is ‘the best overnight sleeper journey in the world according’, according to Lonely Planet.


The journey was part of their “live” case study assignment of the Caledonian Sleeper corporate brand, for their elective module on corporate brand consultancy and management. In selecting this iconic train brand for the assignment, Professor Balmer noted:

“The Caledonian Sleeper brand is a perfect case for our postgraduates in that whilst the corporate brand is small in scope it enjoys a global iconic heritage status. Moreover, at a time when most countries are ending their sleeper services, this brand is being reinvigorated with a 150 million pound investment which will see the introduction of new, state of the art, en-suite sleeper carriages which will come into service later on this year. We will be traveling on the 40 year old sleeper carriages before they are withdrawn in order to assess the problems and opportunities faced by the brand during a period of considerable change. The project is very much a dual collaboration between Dr Alwi and Professor Balmer, with Dr Alwi taking care of the logistics for the field visit.”


Brunel University’s Business School’s MSc in Corporate Brand Management was the first of its kind in the world. Launched in 2007, this is the first time a field visit spanning several days was been organised. Students on this year’s course come from the Far East, India, South America, Continental Europe and the UK.


Dr Sharifah Alwi delivers guest lectures at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, in Milan, Italy

Dr Sharifah Alwi has been invited to deliver guest lectures at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, in Milan, Italy, on Corporate Brands Societal Engagement, as well as on Luxury Brand Management.

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Dr Alwi has been a Visiting Scholar at the Italian institution, for the last four years where, in addition to delivering talks in her areas of expertise, she has  worked with Professor Rosella Gambetti, the Executive Director Program for Brand Management. Dr Alwi and Professor Gambetti have co-authored a journal article on the importance of ethics in branding. Dr Alwi and Professor Gambetti are now working on new projects related to corporate branding.

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From left to right: Dr. Silvia Biraghi, Lecturer in Marketing; Professor Renato Ficca, Director, Centre for Marketing Research; Professor Rossella Chiara Gambetti, Program Director (from Economics and Business Management, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore of Milan, Italy) and Dr Sharifah Alwi

During her stay in Milan, Dr Alwi also met the Director of Centre for Marketing Research in the Faculty, Professor Renato Ficca (picture above) and Corporate Communications Professor, Edoardo T. Brioschi.


Dr Alwi is a Senior Lecturer in Marketing at Brunel Business School, where she also leads the MSc in Corporate Brand Management. Her research interests are ethical branding and corporate reputation.

Perfect pitch in Strategic Corporate Brand Consulting

Every February, as part of the module “Strategic Corporate Branding Management and Consulting”, students of MSc Corporate Brand Management conduct a brand audit for a given company and recommend their own strategies for improving the brand.


This year, the students worked on The Cambridge Satchel Company brand, and successfully pitched their recommendations to a panel of internal and external branding experts. The panel was headed by Programme Director Dr Sharifah Alwi and by Professor John Balmer, and included industry experts Mr Kim Cohen (CEO from MountView Consulting UK) and Mr Mark Davies (Director of Bellewood Consulting), as well as the Business School’s own Divisional Lead in Marketing, Dr Ana Canhoto, who is a subject specialist in Social Media and Digital Marketing, plus Consumer and Brand expert, Dr Marcia Christina Ferreira.


Dr Sharifah Alwi, the Programme Director, who looks forward to the event each year, extolled the good work of her students:

“I am very proud to see the professionalism and critical corporate brand strategies presented by the teams. The question-and-answer session was long and demanding, but the students managed to maintain their professionalism throughout, and responded with passion.

I am pleased that they exhibited team effort when convincing the panel in the best possible way about why their strategy was better than the competitors’, and were able to develop critical ground for the brand. This is a yearly activity that provides a real industry experience to our students, not only helping their future careers as brand consultants, but also in the pursuit of excellence in branding and marketing.”

Mr Mark Davis, one of the external brand consultants on the panel, commented:

“Overall, I feel that the session was a pretty realistic role play, based on my many years of being involved on pitches, so well done to yourselves and the participants. The groups presented with confidence and handled the challenges well.

Each had an element of creativity in their pitch which helps to create audience engagement and chemistry. They also demonstrated great listening skills and weren’t afraid to defend their position.

I loved their opening pitch, starting to explore around brand identity as a personification. There is some good work in this area in the marketing arena to support the value of this thinking. Their exploration of the framework was well articulated.”


Group photo (sitting down) from left to right, Dr Sharifah Alwi (Module Leader), Industry guest 1: Mr. Kim Cohen (MountView Consulting), Industry Guest 2: Mr. Mark Davis (Bellewood Consulting) and Internal panellist 1: Dr. Ana Canhoto
Standing from left to right: Student Group 1 – Paulina, Pearl, Vivi and Ying Han, Internal panellist 2: Dr. Marcia Christina, Professor John Balmer (Head of the Marketing and Corporate Brand Research Group) and Student Group 2: Faye, Zainab, Queena and Zoe.


The students offered the following reflections on their experience:


“The overall experience on the module is positive. We were able to practice the theories and frameworks learned from the first semester towards the final presentation in front of the professional panel. The division into smaller groups and the bonding that was created between the group members is invaluable.”



“The class offered a chance put taught theory into practice. Through the group work we were able to share ideas with classmates from different cultures. The ideas that came up in our rehearsals were not only useful for the assessment, but also future work. In the final presentation, we benefited a lot from the brand experts who were invited to give opinions and suggestions.”



“The presentation provided us with the opportunity to learn about consulting in a real business context. In our teamwork everyone enjoyed themselves and got inspired by brainstorming. In every meeting, we were able to improve ourselves and to think more critically about corporate branding. Also, thanks to the helpful feedback from the Professors and experienced panellists, we will improve in our research abilities.”



“We worked as a team which is great because we have to work like this in the workplace environment. More than the study we have to get along with our group members. Furthermore, the corporate brand audit is useful, and this module made me understand consultancy more clearly which has its foundation in corporate branding and corporate identity.”



“As corporate brand consulting experience, it caused us to re-think and utilise what we learnt in class. We also got great support and training in critical thinking and presentation skills by our professors. After the presentation, we received useful feedback from the experienced panellists who had lots of passion and ideas in consulting” 



“The presentation provided us with insight on how real consulting works. We received helpful feedback and recommendations from the experienced panel which we intend to use to improve both content and presentation skills for the future. Overall, it was an unforgettable experience – one I wish we had more of as we prepare to go out in the real world.”



“This presentation is a process of learning from theory to practice. It’s a chance for teamwork and we learned from every member of the team. We received lots of useful feedback in the preparation process, during and after the presentation, which will be of great help to our future work.”


For more programme stories, see below:

Celebrating the 10thAnniversary of MSc Corporate Brand Management

Study a CIM qualification alongside your Brunel degree


Dr. Sharifah Faridah Syed Alwi delivers key-note presentations in Indonesia and Malaysia


Recently, Dr Alwi (Senior Lecturer within the marketing and corporate brand research group) delivered a key note presentation to 30 SMEs at a two day workshop at the Tabung Haji Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, organised by The Cooperation of the cooperative Council of Malaysia (ANGKASA). She also gave a Keynote address at the 1st International Conference on Community and Service Engagement, in Medan, Indonesia.


The presentations were based on the collaborative empirical research on SMEs undertaken by Dr. Sharifah Faridah Syed Alwi; Professor John M.T. Balmer; Dr. Cristina Stoian (all at Brunel Business School) and Professor Philip Kitchen (Salford University). This research investigated how marketing communication (MC) and corporate communication (CC) strategies are developed and conducted within the firm.

Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the ground-breaking MSc in Corporate Brand Management

Established in 2007, with Professor John M.T. Balmer as its first Director, the pioneering MSc in Corporate Brand Management has “come of age” as it celebrates its 10th anniversary.  Over the last 10 years, the course has attracted students from all parts of the globe and former students now hold prominent corporate brand management positions.


MSc Corporate Brand Management Students (2015-2016) at the final group presentations for the Corporate Brand Management Consultancy Elective with Course Director, Dr Sharifah Alwi (front row centre) and the two external assessors from the consultancy industry.


Its launch – just 12 years after the formal introduction of the corporate brand concept in 1995 – was trailblazing in that it, arguably, was the first Master’s degree anywhere in the world to have corporate brands as its explicit focus.



The foundational work on corporate brand scholarship has taken place in the UK. Therefore, it was fitting that a British University should be the first to offer this degree. In launching this degree, Brunel University, as a prominent London-based University, was able to capitalise on London’s status as the capital of corporate brand management and consulting.


Moreover, the Marketing and Corporate Brand Research group at Brunel Business School then – and now – has an international profile vis-à-vis its research and scholarship in the corporate branding field.  Professor John M.T. Balmer is, sometimes, credited with formally introducing the corporate brand notion in 1995 and was the first academic to be appointed to a personal chair in corporate brand management at Bradford University. As such, the course is greatly informed by the research and scholarship undertaken by Marketing and Corporate Brand faculty.



In remaking on the anniversary, the Director of MSc in Applied Corporate Brand Management, Dr Sharifah Alwi, commented: “The 10th anniversary of the degree is a time for real celebration and an opportunity for us to re-engage with our former students who are working across the globe. Thanks are also due to colleagues who have served as Directors of the programme including Professor Balmer, Professor Melewar, Professor Gupta and Dr Heller”

Professor John M.T. Balmer who, as the first director of the course (and who still teaches on the degree) notes: “It has been a huge privilege to be associated with this degree and to have taught so many excellent students, many of whom are now working in the corporate branding sector.”


Professor John MT Balmer Founding-Director of the MSc in Corporate Brand Management


We would like to hear from past students – about your experiences and where you are now. If you are a graduate, contact the Director of the MSc in Applied Corporate Brand Management, Dr Sharifah Alwi: Sharifah.Alwi@brunel.ac.uk


Director of the MSc in Applied Corporate Brand Management, Dr Sharifah Alwi