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VCU Brandcenter at forefront of next great design movement

Hires Andrew LeVasseur to lead emerging experience design (XD) discipline

Advertising veteran Andrew LeVasseur will lead the Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter’s new experience design (XD) discipline, which focuses on the industry’s shift from brand communications to brand experiences.

The XD track, offered within the Brandcenter’s master’s program in the VCU School of Business, is accepting applications for fall 2015. The unique curriculum concentrates on the conception, design, prototyping and building of brand experiences that push the envelope of what is technologically possible.

“What an amazing time for our industry as we move from the design of ads to the design of experiences,” LeVasseur said. “I love design. I love the transformative nature of great design. I love that with applied design thinking, we can solve real business problems. And with applied design craft, we can make our collective experiences better.”

Students in the XD track will benefit from a newly appointed experience design studio space at the Brandcenter where they will be able to design, prototype and test their ideas on site.

The industry — including Brandcenter board members Rick Webb and Jeff Steinhour — has already expressed its support.

“The experience design track is the bridge between interaction design and branding,” said Webb, a writer, entrepreneur and investor. “It’s the digital version of planning. The Brandcenter implementing this track is a massive step in ensuring that solid brand management doesn’t lose its way in a world of infinite touch points. That sounds like jargon, but how about this: nerds plus brand in one employee. Beat that.”

Steinhour, managing partner and vice chairman of Crispin, Porter + Bogusky, said, "The experience design track will continue the VCU Brandcenter's passionate commitment to providing the most forward-thinking and innovative curriculum to the future leaders of the branding and communications industry. The real-world learning and experience offered by the Brandcenter is second-to-none and I'm excited to see what they'll do next with this newest track."

LeVasseur has more than 20 years of experience working for leading companies on global brands and applied design solutions. Prior to joining the Brandcenter full-time as chair of the XD track, LeVasseur brought his industry perspective into the classroom as an adjunct professor. He was one of the founders of the creative technology track, from which experience design evolved.

“I truly believe that the VCU Brandcenter is positioned to be at the forefront of the next great design movement,” says LeVasseur. “XD is a movement that combines the smartest minds in business and branding with the best designers and technologists. And I am so excited and humbled to be a part of this community and opportunity.”

“We will continue to embrace change and produce the finest creative marketing and advertising thinkers and doers who will go on to become leaders in their fields,” said Helayne Spivak, director of the Brandcenter. “We have a deep desire to support a next generation of curious, hopeful, inspired and heartfelt students. Those who can build upon what we have accomplished as an industry and iterate, innovate and deliver bigger, bolder, more meaningful and impactful business solutions. I do believe we can change the world for the better. And we are excited to have Andrew here to support that vision.”

LeVasseur has worked for top digital and traditional agencies such as Razorfish in Seattle, Washington, and The Martin Agency in Richmond, Virginia. His brand credits include Barclays, Best Buy, Capella University, Capital One, Harrah’s Entertainment, Hawaiian Airlines, Holland America, Microsoft, Michelin – BFGoodrich, Verizon FiOS and Weight Watchers. His focus areas include brand strategy, user experience design, information architecture, interaction design, software, information systems and process design, and applied research and analytics.

About VCU and VCU Medical Center

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see www.vcu.edu.

About the VCU Brandcenter

The Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter in Richmond, Virginia, is an innovative, two-year graduate program that brings the creative, strategic, business and technology sides of advertising and branding together. Our purpose is to develop the best creative problem solvers in the world. The Brandcenter offers a highly creative environment for students concentrating in five tracks: Copywriting, Art Direction, Strategy, Creative Brand Management and Experience Design. Students earn a Master of Science degree in Business/Branding. Brandcenter alums work at some of the best agencies in the world such as Chiat, Barton F Graf 9000, Droga5, and Wieden + Kennedy, as well as on the client side helping to build brands such as Target, Apple, Urban Outfitters, Google, Nike, Coke, Facebook and UnderArmour. For more, see http://brandcenter.vcu.edu
Andrew Levasseur, Chair of the Experience Design track at the VCU Brandcenter, discusses the evolution of the former Creative Technology track into Experience Design.