The cool pool

Apple, Trader Joe’s, Ikea, Starbucks and brand X.

Being brand X is the dream of every other brand, or in other words, every other brand wants to be called in the same breath as these brands. So what are the essential elements to be part of the “cool pool”?

One of the biggest factors that differentiate these brands from their respective competition is trust. Trust is something that makes or breaks a brand. If your customers trust you to serve them in the best possible way, you create a stickiness factor for your brand like nothing else.

A key characteristic of these brands is that they are intensely customer-centric. From great in-store experience to product development to even product packaging, the idea is to delight the customer. These brands put customer at the center and revolves everything around them.

To be a great brand, you need to define it around a niche and focus on that. You should do a particular thing and do it better than anyone else. You should be the ultimate authority in your field of expertise and keep innovating in that niche to remain ahead of the competition. You can of course do brand extension, but keep it adjacent to your niche and leverage your brand.

Another idea of niche is to appeal to a niche audience. Niche appeal is a great asset for a brand. When companies market their products to a niche market, these people consider themselves member of the company’s cult. I am not suggesting that the product should not be for the mass market. The idea is to start from a niche market and then expand the reach to the masses. In the process, you will generate support from a group of mavens who will add to the company’s capacity to target a bigger and broader market in the long run.

You can never be a great brand if you imitate some other brand. You can of course learn from them and apply that in your industry. In order to be a cool brand, you need to focus on your customers and gain their trust, be an expert in your niche, and out innovate your competition.

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