Robert Jones

Robert Jones

Professor, Professor

  • 0.16 Thomas Paine Study Centre

Accepting PhD Students

Personal profile


I have two interconnected lives: I'm an independent brand strategist, and professor of brand leadership here at UEA.

I started my working life as a research fellow at Cambridge, before joining a Cambridge start-up company, Baddeley Associates, which specialised in communicating the complexities of computers to ordinary people.

I found my métier in 1993 when I joined Wolff Olins, one of the world's top branding consultancies. At Wolff Olins, I helped over 70 organisations, in the UK and globally, to build their brands – including Aviva, Barclays, Camelot, Historic Royal Palaces, Oxfam, PwC, National Trust, Tate, Tesco, Virgin And Wikipedia.

Alongside this work, I joined Norwich Business School in 2008, where I set up the world’s only MSc in brand leadership. Over 90% of our graduates go on to get jobs in branding, from Red Bull to TikTok, Edelman to Interbrand.

In 2020 I set up as an independent brand consultant. My clients include Art Fund, English Heritage, National Trust, Perfect Day and the Rhodes Trust.

Norwich is an unusual hotspot for big brands and creative agencies, and in 2020 I founded Brandland, a network for people working in branding in Norwich. We're now more than 600 people, and a significant example of UEA's impact as a civic university on the creative economy of Norwich.

Key Research Interests

My research has been highly practical – the 70 or so client projects I’ve run. With my clients, I’ve discovered what works and what doesn’t, as we’ve set out to make lasting change happen in the complex, ever-shifting and highly political world of large organisations – from Aviva and Barclays to Tesco and Virgin.

Through the last ten years, I’ve been constantly fascinated by the way branding is (and isn’t) changing. At Wolff Olins, I led five research projects to uncover the ways that brand practice, consumer behaviour and leadership styles have changed. In 2012, I explored this topic more broadly by editing a special issue of the Journal of Brand Management, and this has become one of the journal’s most cited editions.

Key Responsibilities

I help lead the Brand Leadership MSc programme, working alongside Vanya Kitsopoulou.

I supervise two PhD students.

I also advise the university on its own brand. I led a Wolff Olins team who updated the UEA brand in 2013-2014.

Areas of Expertise

Brands and branding.

Teaching Interests

I teach two modules on the MSc Brand Leadership programme. ‘Brand now' gives students an up-to-the-minute overview of brand practice, and ‘Brands in action' takes them through a team project with real clients tackling a real brand issue. Both modules draw heavily on my professional experience, which I've codified into a set of practice-based theoretical models.

Each summer, Vanya Kitsopoulou and I teach a unique module 'Brand leadership' as an option for our MBA students. I also contribute a class each year to the undergraduate marketing programme, and to courses in the School of Art, Media and American Studies and the School of Global Development.

I helped UEA get into digital teaching, by creating its first MOOC (massive open online course), using the FutureLearn platform. The course, The Secret Power of Brands, has now reached 100,000 learners, giving UEA an unprecedented presence in the world. Using that experience, I’ve now put all the content for my two MSc modules online, freeing up classroom time for project work. This ‘flipped classroom’ approach helps students to assimilate my content, and to take part confidently in classroom discussions.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production

Education/Academic qualification

Master of Arts, University of Cambridge

Award Date: 1 Jan 1983