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What makes a brand “cool”? To identify the elements of brand coolness, the authors conducted studies across Europe and the United States and used their findings to create a structural model based on 10 distinct characteristics: be extraordinary, attractive, energetic, high status, rebellious, original, authentic, subcultural, iconic, and popular. Coolness is inherently subjective between different populations, subcultures, or other groupings, so this model allows managers to pinpoint which components of coolness are of greater or lesser importance to their specific brand. The authors caution that brand coolness is dynamic: It can change when a brand shifts from being cool to a niche audience to becoming cool on a mass scale and may eventually lose its cultural cachet.

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What You Need to Know

Marketers can use these insights into coolness to better understand perceptions of their brand and stay a step ahead of the competition.

  • A brand’s perceived coolness can be essential in driving its success, but what makes a brand cool can be mysterious and ever-changing.
  • A new model can help brand managers quantify what makes their brand cool and reinforce its image based on specific characteristics.
  • Marketers should target a niche audience to develop coolness and make sure they maintain that connection when transitioning to “mass cool.”
  • Becoming passe is an inherent risk, and marketers can avoid this by striving to become iconic.


Marketers strive to create cool brands, but the literature does not offer a blueprint for what “brand coolness” means or what features characterize cool brands. This research uses a mixed-methods approach to conceptualize brand coolness and identify a set of characteristics typically associated with cool brands. Focus groups, depth interviews, and an essay study indicate that cool brands are perceived to be extraordinary, aesthetically appealing, energetic, high status, rebellious, original, authentic, subcultural, iconic, and popular. In nine quantitative studies (surveys and experiments), the authors develop scale items to reliably measure the component characteristics of brand coolness; show that brand coolness influences important outcome variables, including consumers’ attitudes toward, satisfaction with, intentions to talk about, and willingness to pay for the brand; and demonstrate how cool brands change over time. At first, most brands become cool to a small niche, at which point they are perceived to be more subcultural, rebellious, authentic, and original. Over time, some cool brands become adopted by the masses, at which point they are perceived to be more popular and iconic.

Warren, Caleb, Rajeev Batra, Sandra Maria Correia Loureiro, and Richard P. Bagozzi. “Brand Coolness.” Journal of Marketing 83, no. 5 (September 2019): 36–56.