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The Power of Cool

January 15th, 2011 Jeremy Jeremy

woodstock-snoopy-joe-coolIn my last post, I talked about marketing lessons from Starbucks. The bottom line was that Starbucks tethers its brand to a pleasant and soothing experience. In this post I will begin getting into the nitty-gritty on how to utilize experience-based marketing in iPhone apps. All hail the power of cool.

One element of the Starbucks experience is the cool factor. Notice that they do not play Britney Spears music. Ponder the fact that they use highly stylish decor. And consider that they label their drinks with Italian names; Howard Schultz, emperor of Starbucks, claims this is to produce an atmosphere of “romance”; I think it is also to produce an atmosphere of “cool.”

Joe or Jane consumer may not want to be caught shopping at the dollar store. But they wouldn’t mind being caught in Starbucks. Indeed, Starbucks promises and delivers a considerable ego-stroking. This ego-stroking constitutes part of the experience that makes Starbucks so pleasant: if each time a customer goes to Starbucks, they get a gentle ego massage, this makes it more likely that they will come back and have pleasant associations with the brand.

Apple also utilizes the cool factor. Apple’s stylized iPod commercials gave the iPod an artzy aura; the commercials promised customers that buying an iPod would allow them to bask in that aura. This marketing appeals directly to the subconscious, initiating an emotional impulse to buy the product. This is more powerful than appeals to the mental faculties with talk of great features or low prices.


iPod ads in Hong Kong

Hence, our apps should exude the aura of cool and deliver an ego-stroking. Just as Starbucks patrons love to be seen at Starbucks, our customers should love to be seen using our apps. The more vigorous the ego-massage, the more likely customers will be to use the app frequently and want to use the app around other people.

For instance, Tapbots have become famous for taking utilitarian tasks and making them cool and delightful. Users love to be seen using Tapbots’ convertbot. The genius of this little app is that, although it deals with a banal task (converting units), it uses an interface that makes the user feel like they are commanding the Starship Enterprise.



Next time I will continue to discuss ways to apply experience-based marketing to iPhone apps.


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