What Vans’ Success Can Teach You About Becoming (And Staying) A Cool Kid


“Cool” means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. But one thing’s for sure: every consumer, brand and product yearns for it. In the case of Vans, they have been considered the coolest kid on the block for nearly half a century.

From 1966 when the Van Doren brothers opened a small on-site shoe fabrication store in Anaheim, to the present-day $2.3 billion international heavyweight; the company has stayed true to their mantra and branding ideals. Doug Palladini, the company’s Global Brand President has stated Vans has a deep commitment to their “four pillars” of what they define as cool: art, music, action sports and street culture. So whether customers buy Vans in a boutique surf shop in California, or a big box store in the Asian-Pacific (their fastest growing market), you know what you are getting into. Buying Vans is not just a purchasing a product; you’re buying a lifestyle.



The company has positioned themselves brilliantly over the last 50 years as one who isn’t a money making-machine, but a lifestyle choice. The “Off The Wall” mantra is a call to all consumers who are okay with being a bit… off-center. Unique. A free-thinker. “As long as you believe in yourself and you’re doing something that represents who you are, then you’re a part of [the] family,” Palladini says.

Vans has successful developed and redesigned their products while staying true to their brand, ultimately leading to five sneakers who outsold most (the Authentic, the Era, the Slip-on, the Old Skool and the Sk8-Hi). Whether an adult or a teenager, wearing Vans means something to consumers. It makes them feel like they are part of something bigger. It makes them feel cool.

If there’s one piece of advice (no matter how corny) we can give you, it’s to stay authentic to your definition of “cool”. And with a little elbow grease, an audience will almost surely follow.