Last month, CoolBrands released a list of what they described as an electric collection of some of the coolest brands in Britain. Since 2001, CoolBrands have been canvasing the opinions of consumers and industry insiders about the coolest products, places and people in the UK; ranking brands on their originality, authenticity, desirability, uniqueness, style and innovation.
CoolBrands, with the help of 3,000 voters and their expert panel, crowned tech giant Apple as the winner, beating car maker Aston Martin to the top spot for the first time in six years. Unlike previous years, almost half of the list is made up of technology and media brands, with a record number of online brands featured in the top 20.
“It is interesting that in this age of austerity, our perception of cool has increasingly shifted from aspirational, luxury brands to free or more affordable brands that provide us with pleasure,” said Stephen Cheliotis, chairman of the CoolBrands expert council.
So what makes Apple a cool brand? How can we learn from this organisation and how have they been responsible for the shift in consumer behaviour and what we consider as ‘cool’?
January 1977, Apple’s advisor Mike Markkula, assembled a 3-point marketing philosophy. After thirty-five years, this philosophy remains
Empathy – We will truly understand their (customer) needs better than any other company.
Focus – In order to do a good job of the things we decide to do, we must eliminate all of the unimportant opportunities.
Impute – People DO judge a book by its cover. We may have the best product, the highest quality, the most useful software, etc.; if we present them in a slipshod manner, they will be perceived as slipshod; if we present them in a creative, professional manner, we will impute the desired qualities.
Apple is aware that customers may be limited to thinking only in terms of what they know, instead of what is possible. Apple thinks about the customer experience more deeply than the customer could. For any product that Apple creates, the people who create it have to want it themselves. The engineers make them for themselves and the end product has to be something that they personally couldn’t live without.
Apple understands that whatever product they create, their consumer may need hand holding. When you go into an Apple store and are greeted by one of the sales staff, you’re not asked, “How can I help you?” Instead they ask, “What would you like to do today?” They go straight to the heart of the consumer’s question, a question that’s always related to what they want to do with the technology, not about the technology itself.
While beautiful design is a critical component of any product Apple makes, but if it is not easy to use, it is considered worthless to the consumer. As technology has become more intricate and users want more features, the task of keeping things simple is sometimes difficult. It’s often rare to find a company creating something where ease of use is more important than the product itself. Apple makes this a critical goal when creating anything for the market.
The replication of these core values in your organisation may seem daunting. Apple are a global corporation, renowned for delivering great software, industrial design and powerful content; such as apps and services. However, knowing your consumer, developing your product and providing great service are all key factors any business of any size can implement. By sticking to their core values and devising a business model that creates ongoing customer value, Apple has been able to directly influence what we as a society consider ‘cool’. Importantly, aspirationally, Apple’s products are attainable for most aspects of society. 55% of the UK population are now predicted to own and use a Smartphone, what percentage of the population own an Aston Martin?
The full list of this year’s Top 20 ‘coolest’ brands is below: