6 Rules of Cool

Coolness is first and foremost an attitude. But it’s also a seal of approval, a hallmark of ‘good taste’ and a savvy way to elevate your status. It's even wired in our brain. 

Both brands as well as consumers are on the hunt for that which is constantly changing, as if it were a Holy Grail. And there's a neuroscientific explanation for it. Steven Quartz and Annette Asp, neuroscience researchers at the California Institute of Technology, ran several fMRI studies on the brains of people looking at items that a distinct group identified as ‘cool’ or ‘uncool.’ 

How to find Cool? Keep in mind these 6 rules: 

1. When you say it's cool, the coolness has gone - Be careful when you use cool stuff. Cool is underground, not mainstream. When it's mainstream, it's not cool anymore. 

2. Cool is always a person, never a product - Brands aren't cool in themselves, the people behind it are. It's not the jacket that is cool, it's the man or woman who has chosen to wear it that is cool.

3. Cool cannot be invented - You can't force cool. You can only detect it, and act upon it. 

4. Cool needs three - Someone who does things differently, is weird. Three people doing the same weird thing, is cool. 

5. Cool can only be detected by cool - When you're not cool yourself, it's hard to find cool. A solution might be to gather a pool of cool people and let them spot it for you (as we can do for you)

6. Don't underestimate the power of cool - Cool is chemistry and emotion. It has strong ties to the brain's reward and disgust circuits. (see below)

Just viewing these objects already activated a distinct part of the subjects’ brains, which is called the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC). It’s the part that is involved in social emotions, such as pride and embarrassment, which indicates how we perceive ourselves and how we believe others perceive us. As such, it has strong ties to the brain’s reward and disgust circuits.

Cool is a strange kind of societal value that our brain automatically ties to products, looks and skills that can help enhance our social image. Social approval, reputation, esteem and status play a central role in our motivation and behaviour. In fact, it is the prime currency that drives much of our economy and our consumption.

So cool is about more than wearing the latest fads and cycling through the streets on fancy city bikes. Rather it’s about attitudes and behaviours through which individuals can shape the world around them the way they wish to do so. When it has for instance become cool to share opinions on social media sites, rather than submitting pictures that project a ‘my life is so perfect’ image, more and more people are inclined to tune in on news bulletins. Cool as such can serve as a catalyst of cultural change.

The immense pace with which cultural changes are evolving though, has made it close to impossible for many companies to keep up, let alone create an appealing culture of their own, as marketing and advertising agencies have done for so long. That's why we're here for you. Order your copy of our latest Youth Trend Report Browsing The Margin in our shop, or give us a shout