Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The "Cool" Factor vs. the Sacred Cows

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 they're cool.






* Visit Mike C J, author of "Why are Some Brands Cool?" at Mike's Life. He's pretty cool, too.


  1. Thanks for the mention of my post, Holly. I like the notion that anti cool is cool. I'm old enough to remember the original Starsky & Hutch (I WAS a kid!) and Starsky was so uncool he was cool - at a time when we all wore flares, he was in drainpipes for example!

    Not sure I agree with utilitarian products not being cool - I should introduce you to my Bosch toaster sometime......

    Recent blog post: Why are Some Brands "Cool?"

  2. LOL, Mike! Your Bosch toaster IS cool - the same way Steve Urkel and Volvo are cool. Safe, very retro, and solves a problem in a unique way.

    Recent blog post: The "Cool" Factor vs. the Sacred Cows

  3. Interesting read, I will go check it out. Thanks for sharing.

    Recent blog post: A Blast From The Past

  4. I love the part when you said being cool doesn't try too hard. And that tooting one's horn is uncool. That's a one-two punch and that's cool. ",)

    You've a great comment widget here. Never thought I'd see the day when CommentLuv goes to blogspot users. Obviously, they do. I wonder how you do it. Ahem. The old way of doing it at blogspot makes me feel like I'm blogging from an old garage. ",)

    Holly, thank you very much for visiting my quiet neck of the woods. Very much appreciated.

    Recent blog post: The Lost Art of Being Silly

  5. Thanks, Jan!

    When I was a kid, I went to New York with my grandfather. He took me to dinner at the Park Lane, and I had not packed clothes suitable for an elegant restaurant. I was 13 at the time, but felt I should have been dressed in a little black dress and diamonds. We had a wonderful dinner, but I confessed to my mom, later, how embarrassed I was. She laughed and said, "Look, you should've just walked in there with your head held high and felt like you OWNED the place." My grandfather was a regular customer there, and they knew him well. HE wasn't embarrassed to be seen there with me, no matter what I wore. I should've just had fun and enjoyed the moment. It wasn't until I was 33, having my birthday at Ruth's Chris, that it all clicked into place. I was contented, happy, surrounded by family, watching my not-quite-one-year-old son tasting morsels of filet mignon and seared Ahi tuna from a white tablecloth, enjoying compliments from the manager on how well behaved my children were that I finally "got it" on a gut level. The icing on the cake was learning that the lobster in the tank and I were probably just about the same age...

    The lobster was decidedly cool.

    Recent blog post: Relay for Life


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