Why are Some Brands "Cool?"
Because they're like cows...outstanding in their field.
Seriously, part of the "cool factor" is uniqueness - the product isn't as necessary or as ubiquitous as a toaster. Toasters aren't cool, but most of us own one. Ho hum. Makes great toast, but it's about as cool as your grandmother, who probably made even better toast.
Another aspect of "cool," I think, revolves around our need to rebel against the establishment, coupled with our instinctive urge to cheer for the underdog - Apple the upstart vs. Microsoft the monolith. Isn't David cooler than Goliath? Microsoft and HP were cooler when they operated out of someone's garage.
Real "cool" doesn't try too hard to be cool - and it certainly doesn't toot its own horn and tell you how "cool" it is. It's the same with authors - I laugh when I hear someone describe their own work as "classic literature." That's not a genre; that's a label to be applied, posthumously, by literature critics. If you have to tell people you're cool, you're not. And just as anti-snobbery can be the worst form of snobbery, anti-cool tends to be cool. James Dean and Steve Urkel...now they're cool.
* Visit Mike C J, author of "Why are Some Brands Cool?" at Mike's Life. He's pretty cool, too.