Brand Management in Action: Backbone Hosts AUA Students

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YEREVAN, Armenia — The American University of Armenia (AUA) Master of Business Administration (MBA) program launched its fall series of guest sessions to reinforce student learning by hosting guest speakers to bring valuable insights and perspectives into deliberations of various concepts and practice. 

On October 12, within the scope of the Brand Management course taught by adjunct lecturer Narine Kotikyan, Stepan Azaryan, the founder and creative director of Backbone Branding, had an interactive discussion with MBA students on brand identity, covering the elements of brand identity, design, packaging, and the creative process in general. To make the session more practical and memorable, the class was held off-campus, at Backbone’s office, where students could see the actual work process and feel the overall ambiance of the branding agency in action.

Backbone Branding was founded in 2009. With over 100 awards from international competitions as well as projects implemented all over the world, the agency has established itself as one of the world’s leading names in branding and packaging design. Their creations have been featured in numerous magazines and design platforms worldwide, including the cover of the 5th edition of Pentawards, the “Holy Bible” of the packaging industry.

Backbone has been among the most awarded agencies for several years in a row and is the first-ever recipient of Pentawards Core Award in recognition of its consistent creative excellence.

During the session, the students had the chance to ask questions to the founder and get greater depth of insight of brand creation, also learning about wins and failures of the agency’s path to success. This offered them a unique opportunity for building personal relationships with the Backbone team and discussing with them opportunities for potential cooperation both for class and student-level initiatives. 

MBA Program Chair, Dr. Mane Beglaryan remarked, “The MBA program highly prioritizes academia-industry ties — a driving principle for hiring practitioners from the industry who bring their expertise directly into the classroom. A recent addition to the program is Narine Kotikyan, who teaches Brand Management, a new elective in the program. Frequent company visits and guest speakers from the industry immerse our students to cutting-edge knowledge and most relevant content driven by practical focus of the program — a competitive advantage that makes MBA one of the flagship programs at AUA.”

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.