Reading: Chasing Cool

I love marketing books because the landscape of this industry has changed so much in the last decade. I picked this book up at the FIDM library and was immediately draw to the cover. It has a grey photo of Nike SB Dunks with spurs. It is also silver and appeared to have a 3D effect.  I was also draw to the title and the slanted font on the cover.  The simple book cover swayed me to judge that the content was also informative and on point. The back cover is full of quotes from people that I deem ‘cool’; Russell Simmons, Tony Hawk, brand president of MAC, Sean John and Tom Ford Beauty, Starbucks, Nike and MTV had me sold. I didn’t know what to expect but I am impressed by the insight discussed about branding, differentiation and being ‘cool’.
The book opens by discussing the ‘iPod’ and how everyone wants to be the ‘iPod’ of their industry. Then they also discuss what is cool. I agree with the definition and am happy that they clearly defined what they are talking about right off the bat. In Chasing Cool, they define cool as “the province of a tasteful visionary who maintains a personal, authentic point of view”.  The book starts by outlining the mistakes that some brands make while TRYING to be cool.  These include marketing gimmicks, ‘hip’ agencies, celebrity equity and fabricated street credibility. This is extremely important because we are dealing with conscious consumers who have access to information anytime. The advent of Web 2.0 and social media has created a mandatory transparency between brands and consumers. With message boards, consumers reviews, blogs and free range of opinions – brand authenticity is going a long way and loyalty for those ‘lovemarks’ are stronger than ever before.
The book continues with case studies and examples of Grey Goose and their success. The brand simply created a new market position, the best. With clever marketing and strategic placement, Grey Goose stands for the ultimate cool and discerning taste. Though vodka experts may disagree and taste tests challenge that claim, no other brand has been able to stand where Grey Goose is in the consumers mind. Their mistake is trying to follow in what Grey Goose did – the authors explain that sometimes you have to step to the right or left of the current trends to create that new category to stand out.
Another great example in the book talks about Us Weekly and how it was trying to be the next People magazine and failed. It tried to follow other ‘success’ models – however, when Bonnie Fuller took the magazine to a new direction – it created a new market, attracted an audience and grew subscription to 1.6 million today.  Overall, this book is great for anyone who is avidly interesting in marketing and branding. The industry is constantly changing and entering the workforce as a young person, it is important to realize what we know is creative capital. Companies must look within their resources – coolhunting and trendspotting are gimmicks that may not even be sustainable within a company that cannot foster its own ‘cool’. Furthermore, the authors also talk about timing and how that is important. Some trends that are ahead of their time will not do well. In many cases, it is not the first but the second or third product that enters the market that blows up.
So much great insight in this book for what ‘cool’ is and how to foster it as a marketer. One of my favorite lines in this book is that companies must realize that “outside help does not solve internal deficiencies.”
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