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Want your brand to be hot? Be cool

"Today, business value and competitive advantage arise more often from consumer perceptions of what is "cool" than from physical assets or economies of scale." - Copenhagen Business School.

Companies need to make the right impressions in the minds of current and future clients in ways that will guarantee not just a one-time patronage, but the repeat patronage and referrals that will take their product/service above their competition.

Of course this means the on the road to building its brands, the company has to say, be and do market-defining and convincing things: identify its audience(s), define its visual imagery to give it a distinct form in the ‘mindspace’ of its audiences, craft and deliver key messages for different audiences that speak to their desires and perceptions of themselves, and consistently deliver on its promises (remember what we discussed in 'What a Brand is vs What a Brand is not?").

Beyond all these, a new demand has been thrown into the mix: you’ve got to be cooolll!


Companies have traditionally plugged into the lifestyles and idiosyncrasies of their target markets. This is at the heart of every audience analysis exercise. What makes your audience tick? Well, in the 21st century, being cool makes your audience tick. It is the one underlying factor that quickly gets your product/service much-needed attention. Coupled with the social market’s increasing impact on market consumption patterns, it is becoming more imperative for companies to re-focus their products/services defining characteristics to include the need to be perceived as being cool.

Companies that have quickly adopted ‘hip and trendy’ personas have found themselves warming their ways into the hearts of not just the upwardly mobile generation but into the consciousness of the older generation. A few in the finance and banking as well as the telecommunications sector quickly come to mind. This is an interesting new dynamic.

The control the younger generation has over self-publishing has made them a demographic that shapes opinions in ways never before witnessed or imagined. Their perception of a product/service’s personality can define its short and long term success of in acquiring significant mind-share. In one word phrase, ignore being cool at your peril. The quality and values you stand for will pale in the face of a competitor bringing similar attributes to the table if they speak to this audience in the way that moves them.

When you throw in the consideration that they will be the generation that determines purchasing and patronage over the next 20 years, then you will understand even more why they have to be taken more seriously. For a country like Nigeria where this generation statistically outstrips the older generation in terms of numbers, their steady and sure penetration of every area of business interaction and how this will affect the future of brands is an interesting case worth studying.

So, maybe it is time you took a second look at your brand’s personality. Do you think it connects with the younger generation? Do you think it looks and speaks ‘cool’? Is it reaching out to them in the places they place interaction premium on or is it still hanging out with the old school?

While you may be operating in a conservative sector where your brand cannot ‘sag to show its got swag’, remember that the 21st century is the century of the trendy and fashionable. Explore every way possible to achieve cool.

Hassan Abdul is the CEO of Media Range Limited. He is a communications strategist and can be reached on Twitter @hassanabdul or by phone on 08035288123. He can also be followed on his official Facebook page

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