Professor Lalin Anik’s General Theory of Coolness

31 January 2018

By Jay Hodgkins

University of Virginia Darden School of Business Professor Lalin Anik penned a new blog in Brand Equity, an initiative of The Economic Times of India, on how marketers who want to achieve “coolness” for their brands must first understand what “cool” really is.

So what is cool? According to Anik’s “general theory of coolness:”

Coolness is a merger of autonomy, authenticity and attitude.

Anik breaks down those three traits of coolness in the blog and summarizes with the challenges of staying cool.

The tough thing about coolness is it’s ephemeral, dependent on new generations and on what is happening in the world. The challenge for marketers looking to imbue product with coolness is that by its very definition, coolness must grow organically or at least be perceived that way. Only the most nuanced and creative marketing will still allow a product to be perceived as autonomous, a precondition for cool.

When it started, Starbucks created a whole culture around the ritual of getting your morning coffee. Then, other brands jumped onto that bandwagon. Starbucks, once perceived as original, became mainstream. Now, it’s cool not to buy Starbucks, and many people are choosing local or niche brands instead. Adidas has all of the ingredients to maintain its cool over time, placing stripes on world-class athletes while also instilling the consumer with nostalgia. The Originals heritage line appeals to both Baby Boomers and vintage-loving hipsters.

There are other brands that are perceived to be cool because they operate in product and cultural categories that are appealing by nature, such as social media – i.e. Facebook and YouTube; technology – i.e. GoPro or Playstation; and athletics – i.e. Vans or Converse. The challenge these brands face is keeping up with ever-changing trends and fads while still being perceived as autonomous, authentic and having an attitude.

Read the full blog on Brand Equity.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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