Monday, April 19, 2010

The Anatomy of Cool

Everybody wants to be cool. Brands all  want to sell the idea of "cool"... and the exclusivity of being cool. But who can define cool? Is it cool a nonsense, a no concept? That being cool really exist?

The headline implies that there is a “body” whose anatomy you can analyze. The whole point of cool is that it does not have a body available for analysis. It’s like a ghost instead of a corpse. That’s why it is cool.

What cool is completely individual and ever-changing. Cool is whatever you like and want. Cool is subjective. It is an opinion. But that does not mean that we — as individuals, brands, media — are not interested in or influenced by others’ views of what cool is. Skip the idea of what's cool and what's not cool is chased by everyone from individuals to brands and media. Since TV announcers, magazines' editor-in-chief, journalists, pivot newscasts, TVentertainers, commentators and politicians all want to convey the idea of cool.
Today are we all chasing a vague and abstract idea, a ghost? Are we obsessed with something that truly does not exist? A cool thing...

Is it cool a bit like fashion? You decide and choose for yourself what you feel is fashionable within your peer group, your culture, your age group, at your financial level. But someone somewhere has given you the initial clue. Marketers and media have brought out the type of sneaker, the kind of jeans, the brand of handbag that you now like and want. In addition, someone you admire is most likely also wearing it. You follow fashion.

But no, no, no... cool is also definitely NOT like fashion. Cool is more about what the norm is NOT. Cool is elusive, indefinable, covetable. It is original, desirable, and not accessible to everybody. If everyone has it, if the brand becomes saturated, it stops being cool.

Occasionally, a brand manages to remain cool and covetable, and becomes a classic. Of the world-wide brands, examples of this include Apple, Absolut and Mini. Many niche brands have also achieved classic status in their relatively small circle. The defining characteristic of these cool classics is that they keep innovating constantly.

Cool could be a fashionable thing or a non-fashionable thing, a demodè thing, a classic... a classic that becomes new year after year like rayban sunglass models. For me some models of cars are cool as old and are no longer cool when retrieved years later and modernized. A classic Mini is cool, a modern model of Mini is not cool because everybody can buy one, is too much popular and acessible, a new model have neither character has a story like the old mini has. So it's not cool.

Magazines, TV or advertisers could no longer control what cool looked like. Marketers who were used to being the ones who decided what the next trend or the next fashion was going to be, suddenly had to face this uncontrollable deluge of messages, opinions and information that consumers were passing on to each other.

Today’s consumers are sick of mass marketing and the sameness of brands. They want to be delighted, surprised and wowed by something that is authentic, different and off the mainstream.

If luxury brands all want to sell the idea of exclusivity and being special and COOL, then why are their identities so similar? Luxury brands would have the vocation to be unique and exclusive but year after year what can we see? they can't created a true cool product, idea, cause, concept... only cool promotion with fantastic ad campaigns with the most cool protographers, stylist and models... and you can sell the same old products, ideas, causes or concepts by the sheer brilliance of a cool publicity but you can't become these products cool, that does not make the brand cool... only the ads are cool.

Cool is the perfect example of the fact that NOBODY can define it and EVERYBODY can.
Are we all chasing a sterile mirage in this desert of new ideas and concepts? Is it the cool factor in the past? Or in the future?

Source: All pics and some inspiration from The Cool Hunter  

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