A lot of brands today are trying to be “cool”. Some go as far as conforming their personality and identity in an effort to signal that they’re part of the “in crowd”. More times than not, brands that try to be cool fail. The larger idea is for a brand to be relevant.
It can certainly make sense to assume that in order to drive consumer attention and interest (and ultimately a transaction), one must be cool...hip, fashionable, on trend.
The problem with cool, however, is that it constantly changes. What is in today is out tomorrow and it often happens quickly. Just as soon as you’ve put what’s cool into action and practice, it changes and you’ve got to start all over again.
Before long, you’re chasing the market and trying to keep up with whatever is popular at the moment. Little by little, it begins to erode away your brand. The consumer begins to notice. Your teams and staff begin to notice. It is often subtle at first. A customer or two leaves, a few more.
Over time, you’ve paddled far away from who you are. You’re wondering what happened to the market position you once held and where everybody went.
Many brands are in trouble today due to this common misstep.
Far greater and more powerful is the brand that is relevant. Unlike cool, relevant is never indicative of “what’s new” or “what’s hot,” but what’s fitting -- pertinent to the world around it, at all times and ways.
Being relevant means never forgetting who you set out to serve. And just as people and the world evolve, so should your brand.
Relevance is evolutionary, appropriate, and the right thing at the right time. It means that you are in tune with what’s current and staying in step with the times.
Being relevant isn’t about changing who you are. It’s about constantly and consistently adapting to be the right version of you for wherever the world and consumer are at the particular moment. It’s something you can usually see coming on the road ahead long before it arrives. This affords you plenty of time to make any moves you need -- or not. If you’re paying attention, there are fewer surprises.
The key to staying relevant means keeping your hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, and then adapting to the terrain that unfolds before you as it happens.
This is how great brands in our world have survived and thrived for multiple centuries. That’s the kind of cool all businesses desire. Don’t aim or aspire to be cool -- set your focus on being relevant, and be ready to evolve as needed.