It comes and goes, but what gives 'cool' its cachet, asks Daniel Rogers
Cool credentials are critical to many brands, but only some achieve them. Even fewer maintain them.
This is the second year that The Brand Council has produced a report on what it judges to be Cool BrandLeaders and has, this time, surveyed British consumers to find out more about what makes brands cool and which pitfalls to avoid. Marketing has exclusive access to the findings.
'Cool BrandLeaders are brands that have become extremely desirable among many style leaders. They have a magic about them, signifying that users have an exceptional sense of taste and style,' explains Marcel Knobil, chair of the Cool BrandLeaders judging panel.
The Brand Council has published a book of all those brands awarded such status. Marketing presents four of them as case studies in 'cool'.
Sports brand Puma, destined for obscurity during the 80s, cleverly reinvented itself as a lifestyle brand during the 90s and now positions itself at the cutting edge of casual wear.
Founded in 1948 in Herzogenaurach, Germany, the brand initially concentrated on performance sportswear. Its running shoes and football boots - worn by Olympic champion Tommy Smith and the great footballer Pele - gradually established the 'form stripe' design as a global classic.
During the 70s, Puma's 'leaping cat' logo on basketball and tennis ranges became synonymous with urban cool. However, as the international sportswear mass market began to accelerate and global sports logos became the norm, the relatively small Puma suffered.
Puma realised it was far from a traditional sportswear company and after years of striving for a more unique identify it came up with a successful formula for 'mixing up' sports and fashion.
Partnerships with musicians and artists began to pay off with the return of heritage shoe styles and Puma's ground-breaking development of sport-fashion collections.
During the late 90s, Puma grew market share and the logo was adopted as an underground alternative to an overheated sportswear market.
New advertising, retail formats in key cities and web sites were based around a new understanding of the way consumers react to the brand.
Puma gained credibility in the UK dance music scene and it managed to sign up glamorous Arsenal striker Robert Pires.
Look around top sports and footwear stores today and Puma has pride of place alongside Adidas and Nike.
This year Puma has followed through with innovations that are a clear departure from sportswear. These include a 26-piece 'modular fashion menswear wardrobe for global business gypsies' called 96 Hours. The collection claims to provide everything that one would need for four days of business travel in a simple aluminium case.
Meanwhile, Puma's Nuala line of yoga-inspired clothing has been designed in co-operation with supermodel Christy Turlington.
Modern approaches to sport trainers have led to the development of the top-selling Mostro and Speed Cat products.
Courvoisier is a case study in how to evolve a distinguished history into a distinctively modern attitude.
Well over 200 years old, the brand was adopted by the US hip hop community as a status symbol during the 90s and celebrated in the song Pass the Courvoisier by Busta Rhymes and P Diddy.
Critically, Courvoisier's management subsequently adapted the brand's marketing to ensure it exploited the links while remaining relevant and exclusive.
Courvoisier is a Cognac, a brandy produced from the region just north of Bordeaux in the South-West of France, whose category name is legally protected.
The brand itself was created by Emmanuel Courvoisier, a wine and spirit merchant, who distributed the smooth amber-coloured liquor through the Gallois wholesalers in France. …