Where is Brunel?

After my summer of discontent I am back in the blogosphere.  This week I am Keynote Speaker at the 2nd International Colloquium on Place Marketing and Nation Branding.  It is a 2 day conference with contributions from an international selection of researchers.  What is interesting reading the draft programme is that, with the exception of three contributors, I know where all the presenters come from.  Come from in a geographical sense I mean (I will not pass comment on their epistemological stance until after I have heard them talk).  In relation to higher education the place brand and the product type are combined.  We know it’s a university and we know where it is (e.g. University of São Paulo).  If the name of the organisation has any other words in its title then it is likely it is not the only university in that place (Manchester Metropolitan University).  Simple.  This place/product nomenclature is very strong amongst educational establishments, cultural venues and sports clubs.  So where is Brunel University?  Not in Brunel (as one of my geographically-challenged colleagues thought this morning).  Named after Isambard Kingdom Brunel, it is in Uxbridge.  Are there any advantages to breaking with tradition and not naming your university after the place it is in?  Is Uxbridge not a place a university wants to be associated with?  Like many universities, Brunel has its roots in a number of colleges and technological institutions spread across a number of sites, so there may well have been political pressures to go for a new name.  It was awarded university status in 1966, so there may also have been a wish to reflect a more modern type of institution.  Nevertheless, from a place branding perspective it must be easier if important elements of the place product (such as a university) can contribute more readily towards the perceptions of the place brand.  Just a thought and maybe it is something we will get to talk about at the conference.

2 thoughts on “Where is Brunel?

  1. The naming of places is something which I talked about in my presentation ‘What’s your name and where do you come from?’ on Friday afternoon. And my argument was along similar lines as you’ve spoken about here. I was looking in particular at Middlesbrough and its identity debate and highlighted the fact that the university is called Teesside University yet is in the centre of Middlesbrough, the airport is named Durham Tees Valley and we celebrate Yorkshire Day!
    It was great listening to you on Friday and found your talk extremely interesting so thank you

    1. Hi Ellen – how’s sunny ‘Boro/Middlesbrough/Teesside. That airport renaming was a right hassle to begin with – I lost 2 lots of luggage as I don’t think MME told anyone they had changed their name!

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