So, last week I went on my first “real” vacation in 15 years with the explicit instructions from my wife NOT to think of work… no blog posts… no tweets… not even updates to my Facebook profile. WAH?!?

So, what did I do?

Well, besides the obvious tanning, eating, sightseeing, drinking, and overall carousing; I observed. I observed multi-cultural interaction. I observed marketing from a global perspective. I observed everything from federal highway infrastructure to tourist stops, restaurants, bars, parks, airports, and hotels trying to position themselves as THE #1 category leader in… whatever it is they do... It was astounding. It was intimidating.

And then, it started to bother me.

See, I live in the heart of the heart of the middle of the United States. And for us, diversification is a completely misunderstood concept…

Sure, we have some great marketing communications firms in the Midwest. Sure, we have some great agencies that handle many of the biggest brands in the world. So, why is it that when I got back to the Midwest (not even out of the airport) did everything that once said “global community” suddenly turn into middle class, middle aged, white, rural men… vanilla in a rocky road world?

Demographics. Focus groups. Statistics.

So, let’s bring it back home… Iowa is diversifying. FAST. And from what I see in all channels of marketing in the Midwest is more of the same – more of the past. Do we really have our fingers on the pulse of our community (let alone the world)? I don’t think so.

After reading the book Chasing Cool, by Noah Kerner and Gene Pressman, I was exhilarated by the thought of “taking a step to the left” and becoming (or getting my clients to) that #1 or the iPod of the industry. But for some reason it didn’t ring true until I saw it happening outside my little world… while on vacation, I learned that most of the Midwest is still “Chasing Cool.”

So instead of a great tan… instead of a suitcase full of Mickey Mouse ears and statues of astronauts; I came away with wider eyes. I came away with renewed expectations from my industry. I came away with questions.

“Why does it have to be so difficult to create a brand with such a UPS that it breaks the barriers of global blandnation (my word) and stands on its own as the brand of choice?”

Or… How do we change the fact that there’s 500 freakin’ channels on and nothing to watch…

Do you have any answers? ‘Cause, I don’t think it’s going to come from one source (any more).

What does middle America do to create a UPS for itself? How do we compete in a market that is rushing by us at the speed of light?

Food for thought…

Until Next Time,
Keep Cooking! (unique positioning for yourself and the world)
Andrew B. Clark
The Brand Chef