The word “cool” was first used in its modern slang capacity by the Jazz -scene back in the 1940’s. Its first use in print was in 1948 when the New Yorker reported “The bebop people have a language of their own… Their expressions of approval include ‘cool’!”. The word and the concept of “Cool” has spanned generations and meant something a little different, but much the same, to each new generation.
“I wish that I could be like the cool kids, cause all the cool kids they seem to get it”
Being cool was once all about having swagger. It was about having a “devil may care” attitude, it was Sandy in her black spandex pants, flicking her cigarette in the final scene of Grease. It was about fitting in with the mainstream culture at any given time. Cool was the hot shots with sports cars sipping dry martinis at the pool. Cool was, well cool.
But no more.
In today’s pop culture, ‘cool’ has nothing to do with being cool, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Just looking at the popularity of shows like “Big Bang Theory” should be a sign that there has been a shift in the force (yes, it’s cool to say stuff like that now).
“It’s so out, it’s in” Being cool is about being alternative, unique, and (wait for it) kind and considerate.
Today’s cool people are the people who go out and do things differently. People who challenge our pre-conceptions. People just don’t care about fitting in anymore. So much so that being cool in the traditional sense is, well, kind of lame. Instead, we have movements like the Indi-creative scene. Artists releasing their own music, minimal production, maximum creative energy. People want to hear sound with soul, and also, music that makes them feel happy. The same goes across the board. Clothing, décor, food, beer and most importantly: attitude.
Kindness is cool. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself this, the last time you heard someone described as a “real cool guy” was he someone with maximum swagger, or someone who is nice to everyone? Yup, he was probably just a real nice guy. To be cool is to be cool to everyone. “Don’t be an A-hole, Sam, be cool” basically this translates to, “Stop being aggressive, Sam, try to be nice to everyone.” A considerate guy is a cool guy. We like cool guys.
How does the new cool relate to the world of sales and consumers? Well, for the most part, they are made up of humans, and – you guessed it – many of them are cool.
The cool kids of 2016 / 2017 are looking for experiences that express their individuality. They want the indie music. They want hand-crafted, individual items that appeal to their sense of self. That’s why online stores like ETSY are so huge right now. They have stepped away from the mainstream and they allow individuals to find personalized experiences.
The coolest people today are completely at home with themselves. They are not trying to be anything they’re not. You don’t have to try to be cool, in fact, trying is, like, so uncool.
Cool people are conscious of the environment. They are responsible. They recycle their recyclables. They are vegans and vegetarians. They are the people who demand free range and organic produce.
Where are they? Probably drinking craft beer at dive, chatting to the grey-bearded guy at the back with great stories to tell (the old guy doesn’t own a cell phone, BTW). Others can be found in the back of bookstores reading the latest Harry Potter (and dissing it because it sucked). There is even a troop of super-cool guys online, taking over the web one string of code at a time. They are having adventures, doing what makes them happy and being themselves.
Truly cool brands are small; they relate to their market and generally observe sustainable methods. Because let’s face it – climate change is so not cool that it actually has the word “warming” in it.
If you want to know if you (or your business) is cool, ask yourself this: would you be excited to find your product on the market? Does it speak to you on an individual level? Does it fall in line with what you believe in and fit in with who you are? If it does, then it’s cool.