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MBA Marketing Class Makes Positive Impact on Community

MBA students Piper Hudson and Brandon Gray present the branding strategy to the Guilford County Sheriff Department.

Touring a jail or meeting with behavioral care patients isn’t something most MBA students expect to do as part of a class, but those in Dr. Merlyn Griffiths’ Brand Management class visited either The Guilford County Sheriff’s Office or Top Priority Care Services this fall in preparation for creating custom branding strategies.

These students are living the UNCG motto of “service” through hands-on outreach to the community. They are also learning more about business, branding, collaboration, and consulting than they ever imagined.

First, they learned how to build brand resonance. Then, they learned about the branding challenges faced by the community organizations. Students then toured the organization, and took several weeks to create a branding strategy before presenting it to executives.

“Students build a brand awareness strategy and demonstrate how it will work,” Dr. Griffiths said. “The beauty of our collaborative relationships is that the organizations can choose to hire students who were involved to implement the strategy, since they understand and are intricately aware of the branding challenges and how to solve them.”

MBA student Jim Skinner worked on the Sheriff Department’s plan. “Classes like this open up opportunities to learn how things are really done – I learned a lot about the obstacles facing a government institution. We found ways to enhance their digital assets. Within the world of law enforcement, what happens in a city like Los Angeles could impact law enforcement in every city, so we created a strategy to protect their image. The conversation doesn’t end with the project, because a relationship has been established and will continue to evolve.”

Major Chuck Williams with the Guilford County Sheriff Department said he’s been in this business for 29 years. “ I assumed that people are hearing our message. The students showed us that communication channels and messages must evolve to stay fresh.  We are grateful and eager to apply the recommended strategies.”

Top Priority Care Services’ CEO, Sharon Johnson, said she was surprised with the depth of research the students conducted, and appreciates their thoughtful recommendations. “I had braced myself to hear that I was doing everything wrong. Instead, the students confirmed what we are doing is right, and found ways to enhance what we already have. I appreciate receiving customized professional-grade marketing tools to more successfully promote my business.”

MBA student John O’Connor’s experience as Director of Advertising and Branding for Cone Health provided valuable insights to Top Priority Care Services. “To work directly with real clients is invaluable! Every week I took relevant things from class to work, and from work to class. I enjoyed sharing insights from my work. In the world of behavioral health, if Top Priority Care is doing well, the whole community benefits.”

He added, “The Bryan School has such a great reputation in our community and can leverage partnerships in the community that benefit the school as well as the organizations it serves.”