How Your Brand Gets Cool

How Your Brand Gets Cool

How to know when cool matters to your brand—and how to be cool when it does.

Is your brand cool? How do you know?

Here’s the thing: No single product or service or company or brand is cool to all people. You can be cool to some, but not all.

So how do you be cool to the people who matter most to your success?

First: Do You Need to Be Cool?

Remember: Most of the things you buy regularly, you don’t buy because they’re cool.

You buy them because you need them or want them and you like them better than the other options. Who cares what the world thinks about your detergent or your toothbrush?

Typically, coolness matters when the consumer ties a product or service to his or her identity. And cool matters most of all when the product is associated with its buyer in a public setting.

Examples? Cars, watches, shoes, smartphones, apps, some types of services, and beyond. This car says I’m rugged. That car says I’m practical. This reusable water bottle says I care about the environment. This rubber bracelet says I give to charity. These shoes say I have extensive discretionary income.

Yet even products tied to identities and on public display don’t need to be cool. Even in these cases, the “it” factor isn’t always required.

Here’s the deal: You need the cool factor most when peer pressure is at play. If people’s peers would see them as “lesser than” because they don’t own, use, or display a certain brand, you need the cool factor.

So if you need it, where do you start?

Generational Theory, Right?

How often have you run into articles and pundits talking about what “the Millennials” like and what “Boomers” want?

All the time, we’re willing to bet.

The popularity of generational theory has meant that companies far and wide have tried to develop and position their products and services based on broad generational archetypes. At FrogDog, we’ve had clients right and left asking us to help them think about adjusting service offerings to appeal to Millennials. (Don’t tell us you haven’t thought the same thing.)

Here’s the deal: Most generational archetypes span a decade or more. Everyone born anywhere within that decade or so is considered part of that generation. Do you honestly believe everyone born everywhere, in every type of situation, during a ten to fifteen-year time span, likes the same things? Even further, do you truly think that all these people don’t just like the same things—sure, most of them like yogurt, let’s say—but that they all think the exact same things have the “it factor,” the coolness that gives them social status, the special something that compels them to share it with all their friends?


All you need to do is think back to your high school days (like it or not). Lots of cliques and subgroups, right? One group made fun of what the others thought was “in,” did they not?

So much for marketing based on generational theory.

Going beyond Generational Theory

Generational theory will only get you so far—and that’s not terribly far. (Sorry about that. Wouldn’t a shortcut be nice?)

As always and ever, you need to fully assess your offering’s strengths and weaknesses, the competitive environment, and the needs and wants of your target audience. Without a feel for the market and industry landscape in which you’re playing, you won’t win the game.

Once you know exactly what group you’re targeting—and yes, you need to think a little more granularly than just about the decade in which a given group was born—you can begin to build out a marketing strategy, develop key messages, and map a tactical plan through which you can amp up your cool factor and become the hit new “it” item for your targeted group.

Sound like a lot of work? It is. But doing things the right way the first time is always the quickest route to success. Or should we say the quickest route to coolness?

Need to be cool? FrogDog can help.

Image courtesy of:

Posted: Mar 27, 2017
Updated: Oct 08, 2019
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