PERSPECTIVE: Aston Martin – Daddy Cool

PERSPECTIVE: Aston Martin – Daddy Cool

The problem with measuring anything with a qualitative stick is that by its very nature it will divide opinion. We’ve heard the stereotypes before, the 911 design is boring, Volvos are dull and Ferrari can do no wrong – but these are all just opinions. Games of football, tennis or cricket are ultimately measured by cold and clear numbers that allow you to immediately assess sans bias who has performed best over a set period of time and pat them on the back or berate their performance appropriately.

Wayne Rooney doesn’t get any extra points for his team if he scores a goal that is considered to be “cool” as it would be a nightmare to both initially decide what defines “cool-ness” and then secondly draw a census every time a goal was scored. It’s the same with cars. There isn’t an official and indisputable measure of what is the coolest car manufacturer in the world because what one enthusiast considers to be most in vogue, another’s stomach could turn at just the mention of the same brand.

Aston Martin beat off the likes of Apple and Bang & Olufsen to be ranked the UK's #1 "cool" brand

So despite there being no way to officially take the temperature of the car industry and conclude who is coolest, it’s a fun thing to do and stirs up debate and a little controversy which is never a bad thing. That’s why Aston Martin were shouting yesterday about becoming the coolest brand in the UK (for the 4th time in 5 years) in CoolBrands’ top 500, outdoing Apple’s popular iPhone in the process. This result was declared by an index being drawn up from a potential list of more than 10,000 brands which were whittled down and rated by a panel of 35 ‘style-experts’, before 2,100 members of the public provided their ratings.

We covered yesterday who were perhaps unlucky not to have made the final cut, but I just want to quickly look at whether Aston Martin deserves the top accolade. Stephen Cheliotis who was one of those in charge of the judging panel said of Aston Martin’s win that, “Aston Martin’s sleek, polished and sexy cars ensure the brand continues to dominate the list of the nation’s coolest brands, as judged by experts and consumers alike.”

Upon winning the award, Aston Martin CEO Dr Ulrich Bez came out by saying, “Once you can define precisely why a brand is cool, then it no longer has the magic that earns it that label. There has to be an element of mystique, something that eludes definition. In order for a brand to have that quality, it needs people behind it with a passionate, creative vision who care for and nurture it.”

[onethird_columns ][blockquote type=”blockquote_quotes” align=”left”]Appearance and aural appeal are important, but it’s the emotional appeal of a brand that really decides whether we take them to our hearts or not.[/blockquote][/onethird_columns] [twothirds_columns_last ]

So what do we think? My short answer is that yes, I do believe that Aston is perhaps the coolest car manufacturer in the world (note I did not say makes the best cars, which is a different topic altogether) but not for the reasons Bez and particularly Cheliotis stated. This is because whilst no doubt the looks of the DBS will turn heads in the high street and the shriek of V8 Vantage on full-throttle would make any red-blooded petrolhead smile, it’s the emotional appeal of a brand that really decides whether we take them to our hearts or not.

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Whilst purchasing an Aston is outside the financial reach of many, it’s the perception of the brand that attracts potential buyers and bedroom wall fans. Aston Martin are probably one of the few car brands that capture demure, style and sophistication in car without lashings of arrogance and smugness as an unfortunate by-product. If for example a red Ferrari 458 Italia and silver Aston Martin DBS both turned up together outside a busy high street restaurant, I would imagine most onlookers would expect a “look at me” character to slither out of the Italian effort, whilst a suave Daniel Craig figure to extract himself from the Aston’s cockpit. Which individual would you most like to be?

Aston Martin and the James Bond film franchise have been jointly considered "cool" for decades

James Bond has obviously had a big impact on the Aston Martin brand by its association with speed, sex-appeal and danger, and it’s this that has partly helped cement the image of what it is to be an Aston Martin owner. Obviously the car must tick our functionality boxes (shape, sound, performance) but most people wish to outwardly project their personality through their choice of car and that makes Aston a difficult brand to beat.

Another trick Aston has managed to achieve is its appeal across a wide breadth of age groups. Whilst it might be the older and wealthier types that can afford an Aston, the James Bond franchise, the mystique, relatively low levels of production and Aston continuing to produce stunning cars like the One-77 mean that kids and the all-important 18-30 demographic find the Gaydon-based company ahead of the rest on the cool curve.

Aston Martin's Cygnet has been met with a cold reception from motoring enthusiasts

[onethird_columns ][blockquote type=”blockquote_quotes” align=”right”]A quick straw poll will tell you the Toyota IQ based Cygnet concept is not cool. The Cygnet only serves to dilute the quality of the brand that rightfully won this year’s cool award.[/blockquote][/onethird_columns] [twothirds_columns_last ]

However, it’s not all great news for Aston in their quest to stay the king of cool. The Toyota IQ based Cygnet concept is likely to hit our streets in the near future and whilst the Cygnet may be a lot of things, a quick straw poll will immediately tell you that it’s definitely not cool. The reason being that the Cygnet goes against everything that makes an Aston cool – could you imagine Daniel Craig stepping out of one? I won’t go into the reasons why the Cygnet exists, but we doubt the judging panel of this year’s cool award had it in mind when awarding the gong to Aston.

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One of the downsides of some luxury brands is the way they attract customers more likely to spend with their egos, rather than any sense of good taste and whilst Aston’s are far from being cheap, they are attainable in the way a Ferrari 250 GTO or Pagani Zonda might not. The One-77 might be an exception to this rule, but Aston have cultivated a modest gentlemanly image that enables the super-rich to wear its brand comfortably without advertising exactly how rich they might actually be. That’s cool.

Whilst I’m not too sure about their recent collaboration with Swizz Beatz aligns with what makes Aston an attractive brand, Aston would have to inflict a lot of damage upon itself to weaken its understated image and topple if from the industry’s coolest brands – other manufacturers would do well to learn from their example.