Building a Brand Based on Emotions: Desire to Be Trendy and Cool

The feeling of desire can be used in a wide variety of ways in emotional branding. One of the most common is the desire to be trendy and cool. Brands in many categories tap into people’s desires to keep up with the latest fads or seem interesting, relevant, and timely to others. For many people, the desire to be viewed as cool by peers isn’t something that fades after high school, and that’s why it’s so effective when brands appeal to consumers’ needs to be perceived as cool in advertising and marketing.


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building a brand based on emotionBuilding a brand based on an emotion like the desire to be trendy and cool can take many forms. Some are very subtle and others are extremely overt. Each brand needs to determine which approach is best for its target audience.

Automotive brands appeal to the desire to be cool in their advertising frequently with varied results. That’s because it takes time to build a cool reputation. You can’t fit a square peg into a round hole. That means despite how hard Buick tries to make people think its brand is cool with slick advertising and revamped models, consumers still perceive it as being “an old person’s car brand.” Changing those perceptions takes time.

Mac vs. PC AdHowever, for brands that successfully live a cool image, branding based on that emotional desire works very well. Apple is one of the best examples, and the Mac vs. PC Guy commercials enabled the brand to spread the perception of it as the cool brand to broader audiences than ever before. What was once the brand for cool designers and creative people became the brand for anyone with a cool bone in their bodies (or anyone who simply wanted to seem cool). Cool people had Macs and iPhones. Everyone else had some other brand.

Using Market Research to Leverage the Desire to Be Trendy and Cool

Market research plays an important part in appealing to the desire to be trendy and cool in brand building. First, you need to survey your target audience to ensure you understand what they think is trendy and cool at any given moment. You also need to understand how they perceive your brand and what you need to change or keep doing in order for them to think your brand is trendy and cool in the future. Consumers’ opinions change quickly, and your brand needs to be ahead of the curve to stay relevant and cool.

You also need to survey consumers to determine how you can differentiate your brand as cool versus the competition just as Apple did by positioning its brand as the cool choice against the “nerdy” competitor. What is uncool about your competitor brands? Remember, it doesn’t matter what you think is cool about your brand or uncool about your competitor’s brand. All that matter is what consumers think, and you won’t know that unless you ask them.

Finally, you need to create concept slogans, copy, and ads, and survey consumers to gauge their reactions to your messages and designs. Coolness is all about perceptions, and you need to be certain that everything you do consistently reflects your brand as the cool choice based on your audience’s feelings, not your feelings. Buick thinks it’s cool, and its ads in recent years make Buick’s perception of itself very clear. However, consumers don’t think Buick is cool. That’s a disconnect that consumers aren’t willing to accept, and Buick still has a long road ahead of itself to find the right brand strategy. Coolness isn’t it — at least not yet.

Only your target audience can tell you how your brand can be cool in their minds. Listen to them and deliver!

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Images: Abdulaziz Almansour, Apple

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Gunelius
Susan Gunelius, MBA is a 25-year marketing and branding expert and President and CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She is the author of 10 books about marketing, branding and social media, and her marketing-related articles appear on top media websites such as Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com. She is also the Founder and Editor in Chief of WomenOnBusiness.com, an award-winning blog for business women.