As everyone knows attempting to define why something is “cool” can be a very uncool thing to do. Not if you’re Hello Starling however! In this post we get to the bottom of what makes for a cool brand and what you can do to make yourself a little bit more hip *ahem.


Last week CoolBrands released the results for their most recent UK wide survey – resulting in the following top 10 coolest brands of 2015: [To see the full top 20 visit the CoolBrands website]


CoolBrands top 10







Alexander McQueen




Aston Martin


Notably Apple has retained the top spot for the past four years running, while young brands such as Instagram and Netflix have shown great momentum with Netflix moving from 10 to 5 and Instagram from 14 to 7.


But what makes these brands so cool?


Well for one the rise of Instagram and Netflix and the fantastic on-going success of Apple can be explained by the ever increasing popularity of and reliance upon digital platforms. What is cool is therefore obviously a reflection of something that is in demand.


As we can see with the other brands on this list music, fashion and sport make up the best of the rest when it comes to the nations coolest brands. Luxury and entertainment are, as ever, key to what constitutes cool to the consumer. With thousands of competitors however to be the coolest of the cool is no mean feat. So what makes people think of one brand as being that little bit cooler than another? Let’s take a look at the three standouts Apple, Netflix and Instagram:




Many books have been written about the secret of Apple’s success. To sum it up in three words we might say usefulness, simplicity and innovation. Continuously being ahead of the game – identifying and solving consumer problems with seamless style.




After successfully targeting a market of customers missed by Blockbuster video in providing DVD-By-Mail Netflix then went on to cannibalise this business in favour of online streaming. While this battle has been a hard-fought one Netflix has succeeded in keeping ahead of the game and has managed to retain customers by producing excellent original exclusive programming.




The premise of Instagram might not seem particularly groundbreaking. After all there have been many social media sites and apps that support the same basic feature of sharing photographs with friends. Where Instagram was different was in its dedication to photo sharing and the users ability to apply filters. By producing a very simple interface and function and excelling at it Instagram has been able to dominate the photo-sharing market online.


So… What makes them cool? 


All in all then we can see that the following key elements are fundamental to what constitutes a cool brand: a product that is in demand (usually an entertainment or fashion item) and that fulfils its purpose in the most efficient and useful way possible. Add to this the CoolBrands own determining factors for consideration: style, innovation, originality, authenticity, desirability and uniqueness, and it is clear to see that being cool is no transitory phenomenon – or what CoolBrands spokesman Stephen Cheliotis calls “a one year fad or flash in the pan”.


Cool requires dedication and hard work and ultimately an excellent product. While this might seem an obvious observation it is one that is often ignored in favour of using the latest technology or in attempting to manufacture a product that appeals to a target market. No matter what it is that you are selling – it has to be good to be cool!


Image courtesy of


By Paul Gregson