Being “Cool” Is Not a Lasting Experience

Looking back to your school days (elementary, high school, college), you probably can remember the “cool” kids…the ones that built their identity around the latest trends from video games to clothes. I admit, at times, I tried to be a “cool” kid with hair, clothes, music, and, sad to say, friends. Now I look back at it and realize no remembers me for being cool. If anything, they probably remember the “cool” me in a negative or superficial way, because it probably annoyed them.

Why is that? Why is coolness forgettable or remembered superficially? This is easy to answer. Coolness does not leave a lasting or positive impact on society. Coolness is born out of a selfish desire to be seen, recognized, and praised. 

I don’t remember the cool kids and don’t remember much about the times when I tried to be cool except that I put all my effort into being seen. What did it get me? Nothing really.

I do remember those that made a difference. I remember a guy in college who was not on the cool list and was genuinely kind to everyone. He is now a pastor making an impact in his community.

We remember people that make an impact. Ten years from now, people will probably remember Tim Tebow because his brand was about serving other people, but will probably not remember the many athletes who focused on self-serving brand.

The same goes for brands. Brands who focus on the latest trends to be “cool” (although they wouldn’t phrase it that way) instead of their customers’ experience will not be remembered long term. I’ll give you an example. A few years ago, Volkswagen aired their Darth Vader commercial during the Super Bowl. I still remember it, because they brought me into the experience through childhood memories. What I don’t remember are the many commercials that tried to be funny or tried to sell me a product that year.

When brands focus on the latest trends which we see with website and social media experiences, the customer gets put on the backburner and sometimes forgotten. I have visited over-the-top, “cool” websites, but can’t remember the brand or its offering. Why? Because I didn't connect with them. I was not their top priority.

Evolving trends are a good thing. Consumer behavior is often the driving force behind marketing trends, but a brand must know it customer(s) and know when to jump on a trend and when not to. If the trend is to jump on the Snapchat bandwagon and abandon Facebook, but your customer continues to be primarily Facebook, the brand needs to continue with Facebook…even if it isn’t considered “cool”. Brands who get it are the brands who listen to their customer and put them above their own image.

How well do you know your customers? Are you listening to your customers? Do you value your customer more than the pressure of being “cool” with the latest marketing trend?

Something to think about when the next trend surfaces.

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