Let us begin this conversation with a question: will creating a brand satisfy you? You’ll guess, for most of us, the answer would be an unequivocal ‘yes’.
But pause for a moment. In today’s time, the companies we admire have upped their ante. Merely creating a brand does not satisfy them; they are taking it one step further by creating cool brands.
What is the difference between a brand and a cool brand? A brand merely satisfies its customers, while a cool brand makes them happy.
What is the difference between a satisfied and a happy customer? To understand the difference, consider yourself as an example. You are proficient at your job. Whenever your company needs to engage in strategic negotiation, perhaps it is you who is entrusted with the responsibility. You ensure it is concluded in your company’s favor. How do you feel at the end of the negotiation? Of course—satisfied, because you delivered on the promise.
When you reach office, your boss showers fulsome praise on you in front of your peers: ‘We knew you would conclude the negotiation successfully. The company depends on you……. you have a great future with us…… we see you in a bigger leadership role in due course of time.’
What’s your reaction to this praise? Your chest swells with pride, you walk tall with a smile plastered on your face! How are you feeling? Satisfied or happy? Without a doubt, happy!
And why are you happy? The effusive praise and recognition, that too in front of your peers, boosted your self-esteem and confidence. It also helped you project yourself in the eyes of your peers the way you wanted to be projected: as an important member of the company; someone the company respects and depends upon; someone who has a great future in the company.
Let’s revisit this scenario to glean the learnings. When you successfully concluded the negotiation, you delivered on your promise: that you are proficient in your job. That made you feel satisfied. But when your boss praised you in front of everyone, it made you happy because it delivered two additional benefits:
It boosted your self-esteem and confidence.
You were able to project yourself the way you desired in the eyes of your peers.
What is true for you is also true for a brand.
Customers buy a brand based on the promise it makes to them. When it delivers on the promise, it satisfies them.
A cool brand not only delivers on the promise, satisfying customers, but also scores on two additional dimensions: it boosts their self-esteem and confidence, and it helps them project themselves the way they wish to before their peers. In short, a cool brand helps us shape our identity, enhances our confidence and self-esteem, and helps us project ourselves to the rest of the world. Result: cool brands make us feel happy and good about ourselves.
Let us take BMW for instance. It promises its owners the ‘joy of driving’. When owners drive it, they indeed experience the joy of driving. Thus BMW delivers on a key promise it makes to its customers.
Now, how does an owner feel when she is sitting in her BMW? More confident or less confident? Of course, more confident. And when her peers see her sitting in the BMW, what has she silently communicated about herself to her peers? I can afford a BMW. I have class. I know how to appreciate the finer things in life.’ Who did the talking on her behalf? The brand, BMW. And because it did it efficiently and effectively, BMW has earned the right to be labeled as a cool brand.
Let us measure BMW on three attributes that form the DNA of a cool brand and see where it stands:
Deliver on the promise: Owners indeed experience the promise held out by BMW—the joy of driving. Boost self-esteem: Help the customers feel happy by boosting their self-esteem and confidence.
Assist in projecting desired image: Assist the customer in projecting themselves the way they desire in the eyes of their peers.
Indeed it does—that too, without saying a word. Who does the talking on their behalf? BMW. And because BMW scores high on all three parameters, it qualifies as a cool brand.
Since you now know the secret recipe to transform your brand into a cool brand; make sure it scores high on all three parameters.
A word of caution: a cool brand may not be cool universally. What is cool to you may not be cool to others. The lesson for us: to not get upset when a section of the target audience refuses to acknowledge your brand as cool.
Keep another point in mind: a cool brand comes with a shelf life. What is cool for one generation may not be cool for the following ones. Take cigarettes for instance. In the 1950s and 1960s, smoking cigarettes was considered cool. In the twenty-first century, however, it is no longer cool and in fact, is frowned upon.
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