Innovating the Archetype: Discovering the Boundaries of the Triangular Designer Space

Maaike Mulder-Nijkamp*, Mendel de Kok, Viktor Klassen, Wouter Eggink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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The introduction of innovations can be more successful when launched under an established brand name, e.g. as a brand extension. However, the role of the appearance of the design is often underexposed, whereas the visual appearance of products is known as a critical determinant of consumer response and product success. Based on current literature, designers and design managers only know what to design, but suffer from a lack of knowledge how to design more successful brand extensions. When designing the visual appearance of these extensions we can rely on the strong and recognizable identity of the brand (typicality), but also have to create a completely new product (novelty) referring to the much-debated MAYA Principle (Most Advanced, Yet Acceptable). In this paper we recognize the limitations of the MAYA principle and claim that the success of brand extensions cannot be explained by a simple negative linear equation of opposites as typicality versus novelty. The results of two design case studies about speakers and headphones show that at least three determinants play an important role when designing the appearance of brand extensions; product typicality (does the design look like the archetype product), novelty (how novel is the design) and brand fit (does the design refer to the brand characteristics). Besides that we argue that the optimal balance between those three actors will also be determined by the type of product (archetype or multitype). The results indicate a higher importance of a novel visual styling for speakers and a stronger connection between typicality and brand fit for headphones. To support the design process even further, we will present our findings with the aid of the Triangular Designers space that helps designers and design managers to strategically make decisions to launch successful brand extensions.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalCorporate Reputation Review
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print/First online - 6 Jul 2022


  • Aesthetic preference
  • Brand extension
  • Brand typicality
  • MAYA
  • Novelty
  • Packaging innovation


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