Is Cool Enough?
We think it’s safe to say that the ultimate goal for any business owner, marketer or designer is to create something that’s cool. Coolness is what transcends almost anything. When choosing between two products, considerations of function always come second to ‘coolness.’
In our experience anyway.
There’s good reason why companies such as Apple and Tesla can sell products that are more expensive than the competition and often before they even exist yet (we’re looking at you, Tesla). It’s because Tesla is a cool company. Sure, you could pick up an all-electric Nissan Leaf for a fraction of the cost, but it’s obvious which car you’d rather have.
However, and it’s a very big however – is cool enough? Is coolness enough to excuse poor functionality or in this case, poor design?
WHY IS DESIGN SO IMPORTANT?
While ‘coolness’ is an extremely powerful asset for any business, without high quality design such as marketing communications etc. the world wouldn’t know about it. As you know, design is the mechanism used to convey a message to an audience. Without design, you don’t really have anything other than your word.
One of the fundamentals of design is to create synergy and consistency. Not just consistent in terms of aesthetic design, but consistent in terms of the principles and values behind the messaging. At the end of the day, a company can’t be considered ‘cool’ unless people really and genuinely connect with its values.
Picture the scene. Apple (it’s just such an easy reference), creates all of these innovative and ground-breaking products that shakes up the landscape. But it’s not just the product that gets people talking; it’s the entire ethos of the company that’s immortalised in the form of its products and delivery.
A hype and following begins to emerge, but what if all of Apple’s marketing communications and branding echoes that of a 1990’s washing detergent brand? It wouldn’t take very long for the hype to dissipate and the crowds to flock elsewhere.
The entire company is based around the concept of keeping things clean, simple and ‘as-it-is.’ And that’s exactly what we see. All of Apple’s marketing communications follow suit. It’s clean, it’s simple and it’s exactly as it comes.
It’s not that people are disgusted by poor design. It’s that consumers become confused when the core value of a business doesn’t appear to align with anything that the consumers interact with.
Could this be the essence of what is cool? Maybe it’s not creating something that’s inspiring, endorsed by celebrities and exclusive. Perhaps it’s in creating something that screams your business’ core values and principles through and through.
COOLNESS ISN’T UNIVERSAL
Remember, ‘coolness’ isn’t universal. For every advocate, there’s an opponent.
Familiarity is what really sticks. At the end of the day, coolness isn’t forever. Consistently high quality and functional design is what every business should strive to possess. In the current climate, buying decisions are almost always based on emotional responses. Gone are the days of buying based on specification (well, almost).
The ability to resonate with your customers emotions is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal. As design exists to communicate a message, it also exists to provide openness to interpretation. A message can acquire all new meaning when given a new context.
While ‘coolness’ can change this meaning further; it can often cloud the emotional considerations when making purchases. There isn’t much longevity here.
So is cool enough? The short answer – no, but it still matters. But what matters more is design with real substance. Design with the same substance that’s at the very heart of the business.