High-brightness laser diode technology is progressing rapidly in response to competitive and evolving markets. The large volume resonators required for high-power, high-brightness operation makes their beam parameters and brightness sensitive to thermal- and carrier-induced lensing and also to multimode operation. Power and beam quality are no longer the only concerns for the design of high-brightness lasers. The increased demand for these technologies is accompanied by new performance requirements, including a wider range of wavelengths, direct electrical modulation, spectral purity and stability, and phase-locking techniques for coherent beam combining. This paper explores some of the next-generation technologies being pursued, while illustrating the growing importance of simulation and design tools. The paper begins by investigating the brightness limitations of broad-area laser diodes, including the use of asymmetric feedback to improve the modal discrimination. Next, tapered lasers are considered, with an emphasis on emerging device technologies for applications requiring electrical modulation and high spectral brightness.