During my first year, I had the chance to participate in one of the Duke MBA Marketing Club’s premier annual events, the Brand Challenge. Each year, the club partners with different brands including Dell, P&G, The Hershey Company, and Clorox to put on the Brand Challenge, and it has become a veritable tradition here at Fuqua.

During the event, small teams of students are each assigned a brand and compete against one another to create innovative new ways to market some of the brand’s most important products. The event is tied closely with another Fuqua tradition, Fuqua Friday. Each team must showcase its brand solution during Fuqua Friday, where students from the entire school have the chance to interact with the brands and teams’ solutions.

Coming from the management consulting industry prior to business school, the competition in many ways felt just like a mini-consulting engagement. Upon learning that my team had been matched up with Dell as our brand, we hopped on the phone with two senior product managers at Dell to learn more about the product we would be working with, and the nature of the branding challenge Dell was facing. Our team was given the unique task of creating a new way to market Dell’s All-in-One desktop computer, a product traditionally targeted at large corporate customers, to our fellow MBA classmates.

After a couple of brainstorming sessions over our Thanksgiving break, our team came up with the idea of marketing the Dell desktops as the “creative worker’s best friend” through a design competition on the day of the Brand Challenge. Our idea was to showcase the desktop’s exciting visual design capabilities by having students use it to create new logos for their sections, yet another important tradition at Fuqua tied to our first-year orientation week.

The night before the competition, our team set up the desktop sent from Dell (along with some awesome swag to hand out to students) and made sure we had the right design software ready to go that would best showcase the product’s capabilities. At the challenge, we had tons of interest from the students and judges alike, many of whom submitted designs that we had students vote on.

A young boy using his finger on the computer screen to draw
One of the younger participants who tried out our Dell display

Ultimately, the Brand Challenge was exactly the type of innovative experiential learning opportunity I came to Fuqua for. As someone looking to make a pivot into the marketing world, the competition provided an amazing opportunity to get some hands-on exposure to the types of branding challenges marketers face every day and helped to further reinforce that marketing is the path I’m most interested in pursuing.