Coolness. It’s a very desirable quality. It confers a certain exclusivity on someone, or something, that feels natural, unforced. But can you strive to achieve coolness, can you work at it? If you’re a consumer then you can buy certain things to attempt to accumulate cool, but this is not guarantee, because real coolness has a certain aura.
For brands, coolness is even harder to achieve, because it is essentially conferred upon you by others. But in terms of business success, how important is it to have a cool brand?
The Critical Components of Being Cool
You could argue that as soon as you are able to identify why something is cool you’re already on the path to divesting it of its coolness. However, there are certain components, which, in various combinations, can go towards making a brand cool.
Coolness is very much a social construct, which goes back to the point that coolness is more likely to be awarded not acquired. It is your audience that bestows coolness on you.
This bestowed quality is not guaranteed. Coolness is fickle because audiences change, and what was cool once may no longer be so. And sometimes vice versa.
Being considered cool is about more than your audience’s perception of desirability: it is a different kind of quality, something extra.
A cool brand is a brand that gives people a sense of personal empowerment and autonomy – the coolness of the brand sets them apart.
Does Coolness Matter?
It depends on the brand, on your target market, and on how you are attempting to appeal to that market.
Certain products and services can appeal to the emotions of an audience without needing to pursue coolness – this comes down to the difference between a brand and a product.
What it boils down to is that products perform a function, while brands offer emotion. Certain products you need, but certain brands you want.
It does get more complicated though, because you can obviously apply branding to products to appeal to people’s emotions – this is what differentiates products, by attempting to make people feel something unique by choosing them specifically.
Coolness, therefore, is an important means of differentiation, because it’s meaningful to customers and consumers.
How to Be Cool
Becoming cool involves a lot of detailed market research. You need to find out what might make your competitors uncool as much as what will make your audience attribute coolness to you.
Understanding how consumers perceive you is essential to any brand, but to a cool brand it is the wellspring from where your coolness comes.
Achieving coolness means being willing to change whatever you need to change to alter consumer perceptions. It means creating the kind of concepts, slogans and ads that will allow you to gain an insight into how your brand is seen.
And remember: coolness doesn’t stand still; it’s an ongoing challenge because the criteria will keep shifting, especially in the context of social media.
You want to be sure that coolness is right for your brand; that it is a quality worth pursuing and that it’s not the wrong fit for you and your market.
Reform Creative is a Manchester-based design agency. We’re experienced brand strategists and we know how to gain the best from a brand, and how best to position it. Come and talk to us about your brand, whether you want to be cool or not.