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July 27, 2004

Alex Wipperfürth is Cool

I’m not sure Alex will approve of me labeling him as being cool. Reason being … his latest white paper outlines the fallacy of being cool.

Cool limits growth.
By definition, cool will only appeal to a minority, never the mass-volume mainstream.

Cool is temporary.
Very few brands attain lasting, sustainable coolness. If they’re successful, the brands achieve mainstream popularity … which makes them uncool.

Cool is indefinable.
It’s often ambiguous and always subjective – it lies in the eye of the (cool-hunting) beholder.

Cool is unquantifiable.
Cool is inherently difficult to measure. It’s an attitude that can’t be captured with conventional market research. In asking your most loyal supports whether (and why) they think your brand is cool, you risk losing them by trying to make them feel self-aware about a sub-conscious feeling.

But in this white paper, Alex also outlines the epitome of being cool.

Cool brands dare to be imperfect.
While cool brands are unique, they are by no means perfect. In fact, their limitations and eccentric flaws are part of what makes them cool. Imperfection breeds cool.

Cool brands are visionary.
Cool brands see something others don’t. They are extremely observant and intuitive. The have their finger on the pulse of society, and they’re not afraid to challenge the norms.

Cool brands have nothing to prove.
Cool brands are led by people who are trying to bring something they love and appreciate – an experience, a product, an environment – to others. They stand up for their beliefs, even if that means they won’t appeal to the masses.

[NOTE: The above snippets were lifted verbatim from Alex’s Chasing Cool: A Dangerous Attitude white paper.]

Don’t sleep on this white paper. I get humble quick when I read such eloquent astuteness. Alex, nice writing and nice thinking. You are cool.

Further Learning:

  • Brand Autopsy’s first blog on Alex Wipperfürth’s slew of worthy white papers
  • Malcolm Gladwell’s article on The Coolhunt (This article from March 17, 1997 formed the crux of his best-selling book on social epidemics, "The Tipping Point.”)
  • Marketing without Marketing: A Brand Hijack Manifesto (from Alex's Plan B marketing strategy boutique website)
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    » The Fallacy of Cool from
    Over at Brand Autopsy yesterday, they had a link to a paper by Alex Wipperfürth called "A Dangerous Attitude" outlines the fallacy of being cool. As with most of the stuff over at BA; this deserves a read (whether you [Read More]

    » Trippi, Wipperfurth and Hayek: feel the love from Canuckflack
    Today's theme, class, is on decentralization. It's about the power of the individual to collect disparate pieces of information, perform independent analysis, and develop individual opinions and positions. It's about bending, folding and mutilating - i... [Read More]


    Timberland is a great example of a brand that realized a niche market and chose not to advertise directly to the market it was catering to. Somewhere in the mid 1990's, hip hop artists began wearing and singing about TImberland boots. Timberland was doing nothing at the time to target this market, and were eager to capitalize on it. However, they chose not to saturate hip hop publications, etc, with Timberland ads so as not to saturate the market with Timberland and jeopardize the brand's coolness within the hip hop community. It paid off, the brand stayed cool and did better than ever.

    Alex himself - he writes this stuff, but isn't seen promoting or distributing it. And he claims NOT to be cool. Both these are consistent with the operating principles he espouses.

    And really, isn't wanting to be soon as cool for a lot of people/brands/companies an issue of ego - what Alex is talking about and has proved nicely here is the value and power of being sought out and chosen.

    Thanks for the cool post :)

    Have you seen the "Merchants of cool" documentary on PBS?

    Its online now and can be seen without any ads :)

    Great watch in my opinion. 53 minutes long.


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