Several studies suggest that products with a distinctive exterior design outperform products without differentiating aesthetics. So far, a product's design newness has been assessed by a comparison to the design of competing products. Drawing on categorization theory, we argue that two additional perspectives are important: design newness with respect to the product's brand portfolio and that with respect to the product's predecessor. Results of an empirical study in the domain of cars confirm that all three perspectives of design newness have different and significant sales effects. Consumers' tolerance for newness is found to be most conservative within the predecessor perspective, followed by moderate levels of newness in the brand portfolio perspective and high levels in the competitor perspective. To maximize performance, manufacturers should therefore develop designs that have high novelty compared to the competitive set and are moderately novel compared to the brand's product portfolio and to the preceding model generation. A second empirical application in the context of smart phones confirms these findings. (C) 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.