Philosophy of Science Workshop for @brunelbusiness Marketing Faculty and PhD students

The second of the Marketing and Corporate Brand Research Group’s activities this term was an expert workshop on the importance of philosophy for a PhD. Delivered by Dr Thomas Robinson of Cass Business School, London University along with our own Dr Jessica Chelekis (Lecturer in Sustainability Global Value Chains, Brunel Business School), the workshop comprised a formal overview of the philosophical underpinnings of a PhD along with a bespoke, hands-on session focussing on individual PhD students.

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Professor Balmer (Director of the Marketing and Corporate Brand Group) and Dr Chelekis provided introductions to the session and discussed the importance of philosophy to marketing and to PhDs generally.


Held at Brunel University’s Lancaster Hotel, the event was well supported, with 14 faculty and PhD students from marketing and from other research groups attending the event.

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Commenting on the workshop, Dr Chelekis reflected:

“It was fun to have a morning to just discuss philosophy and research. All of the students had really interesting topics, and they came away with resources to further develop their ideas and dissertations.”

Professor John Balmer to co-organise the 22nd ICIG (International Corporate Identity Group) Symposium in association with the University of Rome in June 2020

In partnership with Dr. Michela Mingione of the University of Rome (Tor Vergata), Professor Balmer is jointly organising the next ICIG symposium in Italy. Taking place on 8-10th June 2020, the next symposium will take place at the historic Villa Mondragone, in the wine-growing area of Frascati, which is situated in the charming countryside on the outskirts of Rome.


The broad theme for the 22nd ICIG Symposium is “FIAT LUX! Advances in Corporate Marketing, Branding, Identity, Image, and Communications.” As befits Rome’s Latin inheritance, the well-known phrase Fiat Lux! (Let there be light) seems an appropriate theme for scholars to take up in furthering our understanding of the broad corporate marketing territory. For further information, and links to the call for papers see:


This year’s symposium follows on from a particularly successful conference which was hosted by Durham University Business School and was co organised by Professor Xinming He and Professor John Balmer.


Established by Professor John M.T. Balmer in 1994, and formally launched at the House of Lords in 1995, the ICIG has been held in in most years since then. Originally, the symposium had its base at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow (Scotland) and he went on to organise/co-organise the event at  leading UK Universities (Oxford University, Durham University, Brunel University London, Essex University, Herriot Watt University) as well as prominent Universities in Europe (St. Gallen University, Switzerland; Aarhus University, Denmark; Ljubljana University, Slovenia: Instituto Empressa, Madrid, Span;  and further afield at the University of Cape Town South African and University , University Putra Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It has also been held at the prestigious Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster; the 5* Brown’s Hotel Mayfair, London, Malmaison Hotel, Brighton.


Arguably, the ICIG symposium was the first of its kind in the corporate identity, corporate brand, and corporate marketing fields. In addition to its enviable provenance, is distinctive owing to its collegial nature and its international reach. The special editions of academic journals, which are often lined to symposia, have been the first of their kind apropos corporate branding, corporate identity and corporate marketing.


Currently, Professor Balmer is Professor of Corporate Marketing at Brunel University. He is quondam Professor of Corporate Brand/Identity Management at Bradford University School of Management where he originally held a personal chair as Professor of Corporate Identity. All three of his personal chairs are understood to be the first of their kind anywhere in the world.


Professor Balmer reaches milestone with 200,000 reads on Researchgate

Last month, a milestone was reached when Professor Balmer learned that there had been over 200, 000 reads of his work on ResearchGate. ResearchGate is a social networking platform for research professionals, where members can share their papers, read other researchers’ papers, ask and answer questions, or find research collaborators.

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Commenting on the above, Professor Balmer remarked:

“What is so uplifting about this news is to learn that there is interest in my published work from students, scholars and colleagues and its uplifting to discover that published work is being read.”


Research impact is a key measure of success of an academic’s work, and we are delighted to see that Professor Balmer’s publications generate so much interest among other scholars. Congratulations, Professor Balmer.

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.

Professor Balmer co-organises a major corporate brand identity symposium at the University of Durham Business School

Brunel Business School’s Professor of Corporate Marketing, Professor John M.T. Balmer, was the co-organiser of the 21st International Corporate Identity Group (ICIG) Symposium, held at Durham University Business School, from 4-6 June, 2019. Professor Balmer established the symposium in 1994 and is the Chairman as well as founder of the ICIG. The symposium was hosted by Professor Xinming He (Professor of Marketing) of Durham University.


The symposium attracted leading coporate branding/identity scholars from the US, Continental Europe and from the UK. Professor Balmer remarked:

Holding this year’s symposium at Durham Business School was propitious since it was just over 30 years ago that I was reading for an MBA at Durham and it was during my time there that my interest in corporate identity was nurtured. The rest is history! The symposium always attracts leading scholars from around the world and this year was no exception”


Subsequently, Professor Balmer took his PhD from Strathclyde University and went on to hold personal chairs in corporate identity (Bradford School of Management) and then corporate brand/identity management (Bradford School of Management) followed by a chair in corporate marketing (Brunel University London). All three personal chairs are the first of their kind globally.


Among leading scholars attending the event included Professor Stephen A. Greyser (Harvard Business School); Professor Tim Brexendorf (WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management); Professor Alan Wilson (University of Strathclyde); Professor Angela Bargenda (ESCE Paris);  Professor TC Melewar (Middlesex); Professor Joachim Kernstock (St Gallen, Switzerland) and our own Dr Sharifah Alwi and Dr Weifeng Chen.


Three Brunel PhD alumnus also attended: Dr Mario Burghausen (University of Essex); Dr Pantea Foroudi (Middlesex) and Dr Ammar Sammour (Coventry University).


The conference dinner was held in the Senate Suite, University College where Professor Balmer was a student.

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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.