"Secrets of Swagger: How to Own Your Cool in Life and Business", by TicketCity founder Randy Cohen, is a fun and entertaining read about the fundamental elements of personal and business branding. Using examples from his own company and the lives of big-name celebrity brands (Lady Gaga, Oprah Winfrey, Ari Emanuel, etc.), Randy Cohen demonstrates how business can develop their own brand of "cool" (aka "swagger") by embracing communication, creativity, courage, charisma, and more.
Written by a business owner in the entertainment industry, Secrets of Swagger: How to Own Your Cool in Life and Business is a fun and bubbly guide to the playful side of branding. Drawing inspiration from the “cool” people in Hollywood, it highlights the power of confidence, creativity, character and communication in crafting a distinctive brand at the personal and business level.
What is Secrets of Swagger About?
There’s a long list of “shoulds” when it comes to brands. Your brand should be relevant. Your brand should be unique. Your brand should be consistent. “Cool” seems to be missing from the list, somehow. Business owners might need to revisit the idea, though, as author Randy Cohen explores in his new book, Secrets of Swagger. This book takes a look at the fundamental ingredients of cool (charisma, creativity and courage) and the final product — the celebrity bands of people like Lady Gaga, JFK, George Clooney, and Oprah Winfrey.
In short, integrate the book’s principles into your life and your brand just might be one of the cool kids.
Becoming “cool” isn’t as simple as it might sound, however. As Cohen details, becoming “cool” isn’t about appearing “cool”. It’s an authentic way of living and being. It’s also a balancing act between two or more opposing forces, such as confidence and humility. While balancing these forces, cool people create their own unique style that develops into a personal “swagger”. That “swagger” can be expressed differently, whether it’s the weirdly creative evolution of a Lady Gaga or the heart-warming and resilient style of an Oprah Winfrey.
For businesses or individuals trying to establish their images, having a “cool” brand adds another element of distinctiveness. Like the “cool kids” in school, cool brands have a way of receiving lots of attention. People like to be associated with cool. It makes them feel special and it makes them connect with others around your brand, growing your marketing at a viral rate without the constant need for marketing or promotion. Becoming “cool”, as the book summarizes, is a way for brands to break out of the “shoulds” in marketing and into the realm of “cool” in the eyes of your audience.
Cohen is an author, speaker, and the founder and Chief Energizing Officer (CEO) of TicketCity, an Austin-based ticket broker and online marketplace. Cohen founded TicketCity in 1990 as a student at the University of Texas with just $1,200.
What Was Best About Secrets of Swagger?
Secrets of Swagger energizes the conversation of branding with a fresh look at some of the world’s top celebrities, who also happen to be some of the world’s biggest brands. Most of us assume that the brand of these celebrities was cool by default, but Cohen shows readers a different side of the story. Cohen extracts lessons from each celebrity brand in the book to demonstrate the book’s main two points: Being “cool” is a proactive process. Being “cool” involves variety, not conformity.
What Could Have Been Done Differently?
Attempting to define “cool”, as Secrets of Swagger attempts to do, seems like an impossible task. After all, how do you define a “cool” brand? Instead of directly answering the “what is cool?” question, Secrets of Swagger takes a different approach. The book focuses on the fundamentals behind cool brands — mostly those belonging to celebrities. This is a noteworthy effort, as well as the book’s more down-to-earth examples from the author’s business (TicketCity). The definition of “cool”, as used in the book, is still a little vague. More case studies from businesses that embody “cool” might help make things more specific for readers.
Why Read Secrets of Swagger?
Secrets of Swagger offers a different and entertaining approach to the “branding” perspective. Instead of getting buried in marketing jargon and overly technical explanations, the book focuses on the basics: courage, charisma, communication, etc. These fundamentals are important, no matter what business you are in, and apply to every situation a business will encounter. Cohen takes a different approach to case studies as well, preferring to place attention on big-name celebrities who have become household brands. In doing so, Secrets of Swagger is able to show that personal and business branding both share the same struggles.
As a business or individual, your brand depends on perception and presentation. Your job, as a brand, is to present your best self to give your audience a very distinct perception. Gaining creating this perception requires the fundamentals that are shared in Secrets of Swagger.