Prof. dr. Vorst, R.R.R. van der

Roland van der Vorst is Professor of Strategic Design for Brand Development at the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering.

Academic Background

My professional life is dominated by two activities: trying to understand things and to put things in motion. The first has lead to various books, columns and lectures. The second has put on the path of entrepreneurship. I have always worked at the crossroads of strategic thinking and creative thinking. The last 16 years I did so by advising clients in various industries on brand development. I have managed professional organizations and put my strategies into practice by being an entrepreneur in both Europe and Singapore.

At this moment I am Managing Director of Freedomlab. Freedomlab is the innovation lab and strategist company of investment fund Dasym. We develop creative strategies aimed at creating breakthrough innovations for organisations worldwide.

I started my career as a scientific researcher. After a two years stay at the university, I joined FHV/BBDO, the biggest advertising agency in the Netherlands at the time. Three years later I became the head of the strategy department, which we transformed into a brand and positioning consultancy. In 2003, I became the chairman of BBDO Netherlands, a group of communication companies.

In 2004 I published my PhD thesis, called 'Branding a systems theoretic perspective'. In 2005 I left BBDO to start my own agency and consultancy, called THEY, with offices both in Amsterdam and Delhi (India). In 2007, THEY also introduced their own champagne brand Zarb, which got international attention as breakthrough design innovation. In 2013 I left Amsterdam to set up an investment fund in Singapore. In 2015, I returned to Amsterdam to become the Managing Director of Freedomlab.


  • 2004
    Doctorate Management Sciences, Radboud University Nijmegen
    Nominated for best PhD dissertation by NOBEM
  • 1993
    Masters Business Administration, Radboud University Nijmegen
    Specialisation: strategic management
  • 1993
    Masters Communication Sciences, Radboud University Nijmegen
    Specialisation: marketing communication
  • 1987
    Bachelor Sociology, Radboud University Nijmegen


  • 2013 - 2014
    Founder and partner in Morningstar Ventures Singapore, a Venture Group for the development of brands in South- East Asia 
  • 2005 - 2012
    Founder and partner of THEY, Branding Agency, an agency with offices in Amsterdam and Delhi. In 2009 Adage awarded THEY as the best small agency in the world.
  • 2007 - 2015
    Creator and partner of Zarb Champagne 
  • 2003 - 2005
    Chairman of BBDO Netherlands (group of creative agencies), part of BBDO Worldwide. 
  • 2000 - 2005
    Head of Research en Development Department and member of management team FHV BBDO, Creative Marketing Agency.  

Columnist/Board functions 


  • 2013 - 2015
    Weekly columnist for Het Financieele Dagblad
  • 2012 - present
    Chairman of the Advisory Board of Directors Netherlands Institute for Social Research (Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau)
  • 2008 - present
    Board member Het Oranjefonds 
  • 2012 - present
    Member advisory council of Social Enterprise NL 
  • 2013
    Member Inauguration committee for the King of the Netherlands
    (Nationaal Comité Inhuldiging)
  • 2012 - 2013
    Member Dutch Creative Industries Council, strategic advisory board for the creative industry 
  • 2009 - 2012
    Board member International Spinozalens 
  • 2008 - 2014
    Member of Board of Directors BNN  

Het camouflage effect

Vorst, R.R.R van der
ISBN: 978 94 6003 637 8

Published in 2013


Vorst, R.R.R van der
ISBN: 978 90 4680 687 6

Published in 2009


Vorst, R.R.R van der
ISBN: 978 90 4680 334 9

Published in 2007

Branding, a system theoretic perspective

Vorst, R.R.R van der
ISBN: 978 90 9018 435 7

Published in 2004