Using strategic design as a competitive advantage

Is strategic design limited to creative industries? No. Manufacturers of functional or utilitarian goods have embraced design as a source for competitive advantage as well. Companies such as Starbucks, Apple and GM have all used design to boost their brand and sales by engaging consumers. So how does this work?

Researchers Prof. Tal Simons from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) and Dr Micki Eisenman from Jerusalem School of Business Administration studied three distinct strategic paths that explain how design may become an institutionalized aspect of competition in industries that are not typically considered creative. They explain:

  • how firms link their products to the identities of their users
  • how design is linked to stakeholders' emotions and visceral reactions to products
  • how intermediaries are relevant to enhancing attention to design.

Why are aesthetic considerations important for successful performance in competitive markets? Watch this video about aesthetics and style by Advances in Strategic Management, including the research of Prof. Simons and Dr Eisenman.


Video content:

The paper was published in Advances in Strategic Management as A rising tide lifts all boats: the origins of institutionalized aesthetic innovation.

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers. Study information and activities for future students, executives and alumni are also organised from the RSM office in Chengdu, China.

For more information about RSM or this article, please contact Danielle Baan, Media Officer for RSM, via +31 10 408 2028 or

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