So, what makes a brand cool?
‘Cool’ is defined in the dictionary as great, fine, excellent, socially adept. However, when applied to marketing, can we define what makes a brand cool? Is it slick packaging, news headlines, a great website, celebrity endorsements, a clever slogan or just word of mouth?
In truth, if a formula could be developed to guarantee a brand could hit the heights of coolness, it would be a combination of all these elements coupled with perfect timing.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, coolness is in the eye of the consumer. Coolness is determined by the consumer not the manufacturer; corporations with large marketing budgets, however hard they try, cannot dictate this. Whilst all of the elements can be in place, as history has shown, cool brands will come just as often from small companies and entrepreneurs. The playing field is level because cool isn’t about how much is being spent, it is about how the brand is satisfying the consumer need and how prepared the consumer is to spread the word and endorse it.
Coolness is the ultimate accolade for a brand – to deem it cool the target market is recognising that it is delivering at all levels. However, there is as ever a cautionary note: once the dizzy heights of coolness have been reached, for some brands their time at the top is limited with an all too eager queue of newcomers ready to knock it off of its pedestal. The flip side of cool is not so attractive; an uncool brand is a hard proposition to market.
The magic formula? Back to basics
As with good marketing practice, a brand has to deliver a clear consumer benefit appreciated by the target market in a better way than currently exists. It is this basic principle that will pave the way for a brand to become cool; without the foundations the brand is unlikely to succeed in the first place. Three fundamentals for a successful brand are:
1. Good Packaging
Great branding, strong standout and, for some brands, breaking the category rules to ensure they impact upon the consumer as a new and innovative offering are key.
2. Appropriate Distribution/Availability
New brands can break through quickly by sourcing credible distribution; finding a brand in the right kind of outlet can be very important in building early credentials.
3. Integrated Communication
In an ideal world large budgets facilitate a wide spread of media. In reality many brands operate on small budgets but can still gain a high share of voice using a variety of relevant media and integrating this communication well. Concurrent online, press and endorsement activity maximizes results.
Written by Jo Halliday.