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Six ways to make brands “cool”

It’s easy to identify something when it’s cool, but that doesn’t make it easy to replicate “cool” brands like Nike and Google. For marketers that are looking to improve their brand image, especially if they are trying to make content interesting for an audience looking for “cool”, what can they do?

Make it a visible status symbol

American Express Black Card (also known as the Centurian Card) is known for being only available to specific people who meet stringent requirements. It was released originally only to select business people and celebrities. It may be a less attainable status symbol than a Burberry Coat or other luxury brand, but it makes people want to be a part of the American Express brand.

This tactic primarily works with symbols that are visible. If people cannot show they are a member, or showcase their status, it loses the benefit of its “cool” factor.

Make it exclusive

Exclusivity can be created by factors other than price. Some companies have gotten their start beginning with an invitation-only access, like Rue La La. The added barrier to becoming a “member” of the club helps add a layer of exclusiveness to the brand.

Being able to access the brand’s content, or not being able to, can also drive exclusivity. Grey Poupon, in keeping with their brand image, is screening Facebook followers. People that are not “classy” enough, are not able to follow its social media.

Make it a cultural phenomenon

By creating something part of a larger culture, it has the opportunity to catch on a way it wouldn’t if mass targeted. Targeting subcultures can help define your core audience and creating a brand experience that becomes part of their culture. Being a “right of passage” or new hobby can help bring further attention to brands.

Be careful in this respect, if your brand becomes a trend it may also fade out quickly like Silly bandz. You are trying to build your brand into culture, not just make it a check mark on this year’s Christmas list. 

Do something cool and make it a phenomenon

This can start at sponsoring events like the X Games. And then it can get more extreme or focused with branded events and activations.

Who doesn’t remember this?

The Red Bull stratosphere jump was epic. By developing this phenomenon, one that went on the record books, Red Bull successfully represented their brand and made a lasting impression. The one jump video alone has 41 million views. 

Inspired creative

Super Bowl commercials are a great opportunity for larger brands with extra advertising spend to showcase their creativity and make themselves look “cool” in front of a lot of people. Crazy creative can be the bread and butter for advertising agencies, but it takes a particular client for that oomph to be “on brand.” Some great examples include DoritosOld Spice, and VW. While not all of these commercials are over-the-top, the creative helped them connect to their target audience.

Borrow a speaker’s “cool”

If your brand is not inherently “cool,” find a spokesperson or actor that represents your brand well. By adding this person to your brands image, it can help transfer the qualities people associate with them to your brand. KFC is trying to bring back their image with a new Colonel Sanders. Mila Kunis is now the spokesperson for Jim Beam. Matthew McConaughey is starring and directing for Wild Turkey.

Influencer marketing is very similar in this respect, you are finding a specific person on social media to positively mention your brand.

How do you try and make your brand “cool”?


Want to know if your brand is “cool”? Click for the worksheet!



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