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  • Rand Pearsall, GPS

The Problem with Cool



I am the last person who should write about "cool". I'm not cool. I don't buy cool things.


Just ask my kids.


But I do think about "cool" - a lot - when it comes to marketing.


And it worries me, a bit. If marketing is about building long-term relationships and profitable sales, how can we emphasize something as ephemeral and trendy as "cool"?


This doesn't mean that something new shouldn't emerge as cool or that something old can't be resurrected as cool. I'm just suggesting that “cool” isn't the end game.


What should the end game be?


Instead of “buzz-worthy”, marketers should focus on something more permanent if our goal is to create true value for our brands. If cool is just one means to an end, wouldn’t it help more to build marketing strategies around the end-point?


What’s cool about great brands? Great design is critical; as are function and value, both emotional and financial. What else should we look for?


Iconic:  Stands not only for the category but has the brand strength to push the brand's boundaries into other categories.

Instant:  Value proposition is immediately understood

Perpetual:  Multigenerational

Meaningful: Important, relevant

Authentic: Credible, real, true

Aspirational: Not too accessible (especially for luxury brands)

Colloquial:  The "Rolex of coffee makers"


Yes, everything gets old. Brands must be updated, refreshed, made appealing to youth; they must continue to amaze and be discoverable. New is always good.


In the auto business, Tesla has been very cool and may prove to be the disruptive force for years to come. But so was Delorean (back in the day). And the roadways are littered with startups and one-hit wonders. The complexity of mass production suggests luxury auto brands that have mainstream appeal are more likely to prevail.


I could be wrong. Maybe my kids will all be driving Kardashian-branded cars one day. As long as they don't clip my Prius Plug-in in the driveway.

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