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Brand and Self-Awareness lies at the basis of Chasing Cool. According to the author, we should all aspire to be cool. Cool is sticky and will lead to the company making profits.
Let's look at the example of the iPod. The Sony Walkman was the go-to mp3 player for several years and was perceived as cool. This was until Apple launched the iPod and changed the game. It was seen as cooler. It was new, easy to carry and one could store a lot of music in this small device.
As a result, the iPod has become an icon for what is cool. In boardrooms, questions would be asked "how can our product turn into an iPod". Every consumer good company asks what it would take to make a successful product. For a specific answer read the book Ready Fire Aim and learn about what is referred to as “Tipping Point” products.
In order to become cool or be perceived as cool, one has to have a certain awareness of what the customer is thinking. When one is able to put himself in the customer's shoes, they are able to think like the customer. The book makes clear that a company's mission statement is important in order to find relevance with targeted customers.
In today's world, companies seem to be stuck focusing on the current trends. They want to have a piece of what's hot now. This is not a good strategy. Companies should have visions for creating for the future. They then have an opportunity to seek what shall be cool tomorrow. Read the book Contagious for more examples of standing out.
The author shares a good example of this in Hip Hop music. Initially, no one thought Hip Hop would survive, hence making the singers rebellious. As a result, Hip Hop got a cool look and now every young person wants to be associated with it.
Doing something cool requires companies to actually research what's cool. This can be done on the internet where trends spread like wildfire.
He writes about another way to get relevance is by hiring brand ambassadors. You may not be cool but the public sees these ambassadors as cool. They can be musicians, artists, or professionals in the field. When people associate specific brands to cool people, they tend to categorize that product as cool as well.
Nike has done a good job of portraying their athletes as cool and have become the biggest sports brand in the world. A great book about writing cool copy and communicating to your audience in a cool way without saying: “hey our brand is cool” is Hey Whipple Squeeze This.
For a company to succeed they must take risks. However, this risk should be managed. Once risk is thought about, it will not be created. To succeed, one must face risk. He shares how we should take big risks but with good risk management.
We have to keep reinventing ourselves or lose market share as a result. The book Sticky Branding is dedicated to this topic.
According to Tommy Hilfiger, Less is better, less is more. At one point, they over expanded. This led to the apparel becoming too abundant. It was now in every other department store. They also advertised a lot. As a result, Tommy Hilfiger becomes uncool. People lost interest in it. They had to take a risk and cut down on this to keep their high-end appeal.
Nike and Target have survived as relevant brands not because of a limited and gimmicky marketing campaign. Some bling and a nice website do not convert to long term value. Brands are developed when companies take risks and face the opportunity of failure. This then opens up the opportunity to succeed. This book shares how to take advantage of these opportunities.
An interesting approach by some companies is to fire employees who do not make mistakes. When one makes mistakes, it means they are trying new things. A company is only as good as its new things and has to remain on its toes. For more on pivoting, staying nimble and trying new things read the book The Messy Middle.
A good example of a company not remaining on its toes is Kodak. The pioneers of photography and market leader by a long shot. They were slow to realize the new trend that is digital photography. New brands came about and took this gap, leaving Kodak to the dust. This shows us that being first to something is not as important as how you develop and rebrand yourself to stay at the top.