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Review How Cool Brands Stay Hot in 10 bullets

After a PDF review in 2010 and the first print of ‘How Cool Brands Stay Hot‘ in 2011, I’ve just finished reading the new edition for the third time. Indeed, a second edition of the publication that brought authors Joeri Van den Bergh (InSites Consulting) and Mattias Behrer (MTV) awards and presentations around the globe is now available. While the structure of the book has remained intact, facts and figures have been updated and new cases, marketing topics and research projects have been added.

Those who read the original will recognise the structure of this second edition. Following a definition of Generation Y (those born between 1980 and 1996), the subsequent chapters deal with the ‘CRUSH model‘, which consists of the five factors that underlie the success of youth brands: coolness, realness, uniqueness, self-identification and happiness. Each chapter concludes with ‘hot takeaways’, the key conclusions, advice, opinions and learnings from the preceding pages.

You get the sense that this new edition is even better than the original: the content is more heavily interconnected and slightly more poignant. Knowledgeable as well as eminently readable and contemporary, there are no holes in the book and it addresses all the relevant issues. The authors spell things out clearly, the language is creative (e.g. a teenage room is dubbed a ‘ME-seum’ and youths are labelled ‘multi-viduals’) and there are plenty of interesting tidbits. Apart from the theoretical aspect and an impressive quantity of intelligent research (good insights), interviews with Household Marketing Names (great quotes) and inserts with contributions by well-known guest authors establish the necessary link with the real-life situation.

One odd statement had me raising an eyebrow (e.g. is knowledge of the various youth groups within the target group really more useful than a motivational segmentation approach?), but most of the propositions are very well argued. It takes a while for a finished manuscript to make it into print so the examples are slightly older and emerging applications (e.g. Snapchat) are not included, but that’s just a minor blip on the screen.

I have taken the liberty of summarising the book in ten striking bullets to paint a clearer picture of the content. Not an easy task since there’s no shortage of catchy tag lines. If you care to check my review of the first edition (in Dutch), you’ll notice I’ve kept just one of the original quotes.

  1. Generations do not change over time to look indentical to their parents at the same adult age (page 12)
  2. The online world is Gen Y’s entertainment, it is not their life (29)
  3. Although Gen Yers are stimulation junkies, it remains important for brands to stay consistent in their messages (36)
  4. For Generation Yers, brands are tools for communicating who they are (45)
  5. The main sources that set the standards of coolness are friends, TV, magazines, advertising and music festivals (106)
  6. Authentic brands are obsessed with innovating (115)
  7. Teens are chameleon outfitters (166)
  8. What they are doing online is quite similar to their behaviour offline: they make friends, talk about their interests, engage in hobbies and have fun (195)
  9. Because of the central role of emotions in youth behaviour, hot brands incorporate them in their marketing and communication strategy (207)
  10. To most Gen Yers around the world, holidays, having sex and being challenged and achieving something are the top three sources of happiness (215)
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