‘Cool', Brands and ‘Cool' Brands

‘Cool', Brands and ‘Cool' Brands

Harsh V. Verma (University of Delhi, Delhi, India)
DOI: 10.4018/ijabim.2014010105
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Abstract

The term ‘cool' is widely used expression in popular culture. This word is prefixed liberally with anything including people, behavior, place and brands. Notwithstanding ambiguity about what it stands there is complete clarity that it certainly adds value. ‘Cool' in this perspective is precious resource which can be used in brand building. The authors' exploration into its genesis and meaning revealed interesting insights. The concept of ‘cool' finds mention in theological discourses of religions including Buddhism, Hinduism and Stoicism. However the modern ‘cool' originated during the time of slavery a coping mechanism of slaves which later drifted into popular mainstream as counter-culture with shades of rebellion. This study found four perspectives of ‘cool' as composure, paradox, good, and cheeky. These use these strands of ‘cool' are evident branding efforts of various companies that target the youth market.
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Rationale

‘Cool’ is irresistible property for a brand to have. Brands gain value if they are added with ‘cool’ property. But it is not easy to achieve because ‘cool’ is nebulous and hard to apprehend. This is the reason why phenomena of ‘cool’ merits attention.

‘Cool’ Adds Value

Notwithstanding the difficulty in understanding cool, being cool matters. It is associated with popularity and attractiveness which can endow a person considered to be cool with a wide range of benefits including personal, social and economic (Hamermesh, 2011; Zebrowitz & Rhodes, 2004). It is common understanding that some people and products are considered to be cool and being bestowed with this nebulous; hard to define property certainly gives them a position of advantage. For many people a brand like Apple is cool and this gives the brand in question a position of relative superiority in terms of brand desirability, price advantage and brand stickiness. Cool is especially important in children and youth segments. A lot of importance is attached to being cool. But consensus is difficult to reach as to what cool is and what it is comprised of and who personifies it the best (Adler & Adler, 1998; Pountain & Robins, 2000).Cool does not lend itself to easy articulation. It is elusive but sought after and it is something to be coveted (Dick & David, 2000). The property of cool holds tremendous marketing worth especially during the time of dawning of commoditization.

Coolness is an appropriated property. It is not manufactured or assembled in factories. With the dawning of pervasive parity across product categories, brands are forced to tap into the culture reservoir to create differentiation. Being a cool brand can reverse the effects of free market system and provide escape routes by abstracting a quantifiable value into a symbol of expression and identification. Grossman (2003) called Cool as the ‘most precious natural resource’ which can make an otherwise substitutable product ‘fantastically valuable’. Cool in this contextualization assumes position like a marketing resource which is used to drive consumer behavior. The phenomenon of cool in branding context is capable of influencing consumer response. It is through this consumer influence brands can gain significantly. Cool is key favorability driver across wide products and services and it is important across all age groups (Sturgess, 2013). The new globalised economy leaves very little scope to set one product apart from the other. Consider a pair of jeans or drinks or sneakers or automobiles, none differ substantively. Many brands like Rolex, Ray Ban, Aston Martin and Absolut defy commodity gravity by the power of ‘Cool’. Becoming Un-cool is a sure run down the lane of oblivion.

The arrival of Cool in branding context is interesting and intriguing. Brand gains power by developing a perception of being Cool, which implies that it appropriates myths and mythology from a non-branding context. A brand achieves value transformation by tapping into meaning reservoir housed in socio-cultural construction of the society. Becoming cool is about dissolution of objective reality and subtly replacing it with a subjective and perceptual construction. It is about de-centering, shifting the product from the centre of perceptual frame and filling the centre with the imagined reality. Coolness is one of the important ways to make a brand stay hot. Among other things, coolness is essential ingredient of a youth brand (Berg & Behrer, 2011).

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