NEW YORK: Taco Bell, the quick-service restaurant chain, has built its attempts to reach millennial consumers on becoming a "cool", culturally-relevant lifestyle brand.

Chris Brandt, Taco Bell's chief marketing officer, told delegates at the 2014 ANA Brand Masters Conference – organised by the Association of National Advertisers – that it has some clear overarching objectives.

"We want to be cool. And we want to be part of culture," he said. (For more, including why Taco Bell wants to be an "explorer" rather than a "jester", read Warc's exclusive report: The strategic roll-up to Taco Bell's 'Live Más' rebirth.)

Although Taco Bell is undoubtedly fashionable with young consumers today, that wasn't the case just four years ago, when it conducted a brand-cluster analysis, updating similar research undertaken in the late 1990s.

"The brands that were clustered with us weren't that cool anymore. Taco Bell wasn't that cool. Something had changed, but we hadn't," Brandt said.

"We had to do better the things that we already did well. But we also had to change to appeal to some changing consumer dynamics and a marketplace that was changing as well."

As such, while Taco Bell has a broad audience, numbering around 35 million people a week, it opted to emphasise tech-savvy shoppers in their twenties, as they define new trends – be it in food, fashion or music.

"We start to be a part of their lives and we transcend from being a product of a food brand into a lifestyle brand," is how Brandt summed up this mission.

Ultimately, the organisation reformulated its appeal to consumers so that it rested on openness and a tangible value exchange, especially in terms of distributing shareable – and share-worthy – information.

"This generation grew up with technology … in an always-on, always-connected [culture], and they really define themselves by their social networks," said Brandt.

Data sourced from Warc