The Formula for 'coolness' is found
Are you 'Johnny Depp cool' or 'Bill Gates cool'?
What makes things 'cool'? From Harley Davidson and Apple campaigns to the appeal of cowboys, James Dean, and Jennifer Lawrence? A new paper in the Journal of Consumer Research takes a shot at answering what might be one of the most unanswerable questions of all time.
The study researched how brands and companies become 'cool' in the eyes of consumer, with the help of comparing it to the concept of humour and what makes something funny. Thanks to Plato and Aristotle's Superiority Theory — laughing at other people's misfortune or we when we feel superior — it helps explain physical humour and most jokes in today's world.
Like humour and beauty, coolness seems to defy definition. The literature tells us that coolness is subjective rather than universal (is Justin Timberlake 'cool'?), and we know that it changes over time (is smoking 'cool' now?). But in a new paper by Caleb Warren and Margaret C. Campbell, they have applied a more constrictive definition that seems surprisingly right.
"Coolness is a subjective, positive trait perceived in people, brands, products, and trends that are autonomous in an appropriate way."
If funny is a gracious violation of expectations, being 'cool' is a measured violation of harmful expectations.
'Cool' means abandoning traditions that we consider unnecessary, illegitimate, or repressive-but also doing so in ways that are bounded. The 1984 Apple ad that said, essentially, "you have a choice; don't buy IBM!" was considered one of the 'coolest' commercials of all time, because it was, in the researchers words, "autonomous in an appropriate way".
However, apart from bad boy images and going against the norm, there is always other forms of 'cool'... Such as people like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg who's thrilling business success is their real source of coolness – as they have accomplished something.