Creating Cool: Successful Beauty Brand DNA

Is there a formula for cool? More like a roadmap.
Is there a formula for cool? More like a roadmap.

Lisa Kovner will be blogging all month on beauty brand strategies, from Business Plan Dos and Don'ts to Distribution 101 to What Is Ops and Why Do I Care. You can read Kovner's "So, You Want to Build Your Own Beauty Brand" in our January issue. -Editor

Ask people what their favorite brands are, and they’ll probably tell you Apple, Netflix, Instagram, Spotify, Airbnb, Starbucks or another lifestyle brand. These brands are consistently called out because people are emotional about them.

In the United Kingdom, there’s actually a CoolBrands award bestowed on brands that excel in four different areas: authenticity, desirability, innovation and originality.

The CoolBrands Expert Council of 36 authorities and a national panel of consumers decide which brands will be designated as cool. It’s not something a brand can pay or apply for, which makes it even more relevant.

Although the CoolBrands designation is exclusive to brands sold in the U.K., you’ll notice that many of the brands carry the same caché within the U.S. Here’s what they say makes a cool brand: 


CoolBrands in Beauty In 2016/2017

CoolBrands recognized these beauty brands:

    • MAC
    • Chanel
    • Aveda
    • OPI
    • Aesop

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A photo posted by (MALIN+GOETZ) (@malinandgoetz) on Jan 3, 2017 at 10:36am PST

    • bareMinerals
    • Barry M
    • BECCA
    • Benefit
    • Bobbi Brown
    • Bumble and bumble
    • butter LONDON
    • Charlotte Tilbury

    • Ciaté
    • Crème de la Mer
    • Dermalogica
    • Dr. Sebagh
    • Dr. Hauschka
    • Dr. Jackson’s
    • Elemis, essie
    • EVE LOM
    • Eyeko
    • ghd, Hershesons
    • Illamasqua
  • Intelligent Nutrients
  • Josh Wood
  • Jurlique
  • Kérastase
  • Korres
  • Laura Mercier
  • Leighton Denny
  • Minx Nails
  • Moroccanoil
  • NARS
  • Neal’s Yard Remedies
  • Oribe
  • Philip Kingsley
  • Phyto
  • Pureology
  • REN
  • Shu Uemura
  • SkinCeuticals
  • Soigné
  • Tangle Teezer
  • TIGI
  • Urban Decay.

The CoolBrands in beauty run the gamut from independent and niche to emerging brands to global billion-dollar powerhouses, but they have one thing on common: their customers are emotional about them.

Whether it’s the brand voice, the packaging, the product names, the social content, the in-store sales staff or the website customer service, they all consistently deliver a seamless, sharable customer experience.

How to Create Cool

The best part of creating cool is that it doesn’t require a ton of money. What it does require is a deep understanding of what makes people tick, what gets them excited, what gets them talking.

It takes passion and commitment to consistently deliver excellence at every touch point. Successful brands are cool. It’s that simple.

Here’s how you can create cool for your brand:


This is how you blend your brand personality with your brand promise to consumers. It’s how you show you care about your customers, your community and your world.


How will people fall in love with your brand? It’s more than the result. It’s relationship-building and the way you make them feel every time they engage with your brand.


This one’s tough. As defined, innovation is an uncontested benefit. In beauty, innovation can manifest in the form of formulation, packaging, product naming, brand personality or any other aspect of your brand that’s truly unique.


What makes your brand different? Why will people get excited about it? What will make it memorable? This is as much an emotional marker as it as a physical one. Spend time thinking about how original your brand really is. Refine the brand as needed, because without originality, it will be perceived as a “me, too” brand, and that’s not where you want to be.

Translating Cool Into Cash

Whether your brand is luxury, prestige, masstige, mass or professional only, it will succeed when it’s perceived as being cool. Integrating cool into your brand DNA is absolutely essential.

It starts with the brand strategy, then carries on through tactical implementation of your marketing and sales plans. When you can integrate it repeatedly over time and in a way that keeps people talking about you, you’ll see an increase in sales because that’s how consumers show their love—they buy you again and again and again.

Isn’t that cool?

Lisa Kovner (lisa@​kovnerco­mpany.​com) is the founder of Kovner & Company, which propels brands forward using influencer-based and non-traditional marketing strategies for consumer, retail and distribution channels.

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