From the start of the 2023 academic year, Bloom Consulting’s Nation and Place Branding methodology is part of the new MA Place Branding programme at Middlesex University London. It is one-year full-time (2-3 years part-time) post-graduate degree offered fully online. This is the first post-graduate degree globally that incorporates marketing, design, urban planning, governance, climate action, strategic planning, creative conceptualisation and problem-solving for countries, regions and cities.

We have therefore engaged Dr. Giannina Warren, who is the Programme Leader and Senior Lecturer in Place Branding in the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries at Middlesex University London, to better understand how this collaboration helps both parties involved and of course the students. Dr. Warren also is the Academic Director at the freshly launched Bloom Consulting sister company Bloom Place Academy.

Nice to meet you, Giannina! Please tell us how you came up with the idea of combining academic and professional fields of Place Branding together.

Before moving to the UK to pursue a MA in International Communications and a PhD in Place Branding, my career spanned 20 years in Toronto in senior marketing, branding and communications roles, including six years at Toronto City Hall, managing promotions for major cultural events, city branding, and resident engagement campaigns. As a former practitioner who became immersed in the academic landscape, I realised that there was a gap between the theoretical knowledge taught in academia and the practical skills required in the professional world. I saw the need to bridge this gap and create a comprehensive approach to place branding that integrates both academic research and practical application.

By combining academic insights with real-world expertise, I believe we can enhance the effectiveness and impact of place branding strategies. Academic knowledge provides a solid foundation of theories, concepts, and best practices, while professional experience brings a practical understanding of the challenges and opportunities in implementing place branding initiatives.

What is the innovation of this MA degree?

This is the world’s first postgraduate degree offer in Place Branding – there are other post-graduate studies that focus on Tourism, Place Management, Place Leadership, Public Administration – but this is the first to combine both academic and practical insights on Nation, City, Regional Branding led by academic research and industry-leading practical implementation.

Embedded in the degree is access to world-leading practitioners, academics, industry experts and firms, agencies, government bodies, DMOs and people working in the field from all over the world.

Through this integration of theory and practice, we train professionals who not only understand the broader underpinnings of Place Branding but also possess the practical skills to successfully apply those principles in real-world scenarios. It allows us to produce graduates who are well-rounded and equipped to navigate the complexities of the field, making meaningful contributions to their organizations and the communities they serve.

Which countries are represented among your students?

This first cohort is diverse and international, with a mix of recent university graduates and established professionals. We have students from Canada, the Czech Republic, Mauritius, Ukraine, Portugal, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom.

How does Bloom Consulting contribute to this MA course?

This industry partnership is innovative and world-leading and provides students with a unique opportunity to learn directly from a leading contributor to the field.

Bloom Consulting brings to the table a prestigious team of consultants who will be offering pro-bono guest lecturing, insider information on case histories and client challenges, innovative proprietary products and frameworks for Place Brand research and strategy, as well as offering internship pathways and networking opportunities for Middlesex University students.

Why is it important for Place Branding practitioners to obtain academic knowledge and degree?

Practitioners can sometimes get caught up in the busy day-to-day challenges of working within their own specific sector or professional culture, allowing little time for the broader exploration of ideas, concepts and reflection. The degree offers professionals an opportunity to expand their thinking and understanding of key concepts and practices via case studies, theories and the latest research in the field through a global lens.

Students with limited professional experience benefit from industry and institutional partnerships across the sector via guest lectures, as well as unique opportunities for practical, work-based learning, including live briefs and place-based problems and industry access through Bloom Consulting and other key players across the field globally.

Importantly, inclusion on the MA Place Branding encourages the creation of a ‘community of practice’ – a network of likeminded individuals who learn from and support each other through the challenges of building a career in Place Branding.

Who else you would like to see among your students?

This degree is optimal for recent graduates in the disciplines of marketing, advertising, public relations, branding, communications, tourism, hospitality, geography, sociology, history, public administration or planning.

Those interested in working in:

  • Tourism
  • Local Government
  • DMO (Destination Marketing Organisation) Operators
  • Film and Culture Promotion
  • Public Administration
  • Economic Development
  • Special Events and Festivals
  • Sport and Attractions
  • Business Improvement Districts/Neighbourhoods
  • Brand Agencies with tourism/development clients
  • Development and Property Management
  • Embassies

By offering this degree through distance learning there is a greater opportunity for professionals aiming to enhance their skills and knowledge while remaining employed.

This includes early and mid-career professionals, working in tourism, culture, marketing or economic development.

When will the next application open for this MA programme? Where can we find more information about the content of the MA?

Applications are now being accepted for the September 2024 intake. Students can learn more about the Programme at and email me directly for a Zoom meeting at

Is there anything else you would like to share?

The Course is delivered entirely online, with a hi-flex schedule that prioritises those who are currently employed. There are two online real-time classes per week, allowing students to maximise the potential of both asynchronous learning online along with synchronous learning that encourages discussion and debate. Readings and recorded lectures are provided electronically and the course is assessed purely through project-based work including essays, presentations, case studies, reports, strategic plans and brand strategies. We have several students who have continued their professional employment while studying; and whilst it’s a challenging schedule, it’s entirely possible and rewarding, as they are able to integrate their real-time practical challenges into the degree and apply their knowledge directly to their work.

In conclusion, the collaborative initiative between Bloom Consulting and Middlesex University marks a transformative step in the realm of Place Branding education. Bloom Consulting’s commitment to this partnership, offering valuable insights, guest lectures, and practical experience, further enriches the learning experience for students. Bloom Consulting is willing to share the knowledge accumulated over 20 years with the next generation of Place Branding practitioners.