DBR – A method for teaching?

As part of Sam’s teaching at the University of Worcester, and particular in his 1st Year Undergraduate Design Theory lesson, the methods used in the Digital Brand Review of defining and discussing a brand are starting to be used.

Though not a particularly new device for the advertising industry, the “Brand Bars” have been used as a tool for working out the perceptions of a brand in the classroom, with some surprising results.

For a review, we generally start our meetings and ‘show’ of the report with an exercise whereby the brand manager or owner draws out the bar values. We then show our version, made of all we have found online. And where there are differences we then discuss why that might be. Is it merely an interpretation issue or is something missing, or not coming through online? For example a brand we investigated thought they were all about eco-friendliness, which was missing online.

With the students we tasked them with defining a brand using the bars – Pukka Pies was our target. In small groups they created a brand map or graph.

From here they were asked to flip one of the bars and do a rebrand (logo) and poster (advertisement) based on this new value. So for example, if they decided that the brand was more towards the male end of the spectrum, what would it look like as a female focused brand. How would a poster targeting that audience look? How would you sell the same product to this new group? Would the product or packaging also have to change?


The first part of the experiment showed that the foreign-born students had a different perception of Pukka Pies to our home grown students – my class happens to have an even split. This is down to the fact that what Pukka is doing online is at odds with the brand that we see in real life. Moreover the connection between product and brand had not been made – an eater of the product vs an online user had no links. This was a quick class based task so research was done generally online.

The experiment showed that the brand bars as a method for describing a brand, simply, succinctly and quickly. Moreover it links back in to design theory in terms of semiotics and audience. We will be using this more, and earlier, in our teaching methods.


This is an example only – not indicative of Pukka Pies