Auto China 2016

I had the honor and the pleasure of attending the Beijing Auto Show this week, one of the world's biggest and most extravagant trade shows of any trade, including automotive.

As I walked around and took in the sights and sounds of the show, I marveled at the high-energy music, lazers, lights, videos, and yes even some dancers. Oh, and avalanche of balloons and the loads of party favors.

I marveled yes, at first, and then it got to be too much.

It quickly became total sensory overload, and a bit overwhelming. More than just a bit. Sure, if you love your car brand then you are going to be all in on the display. But when looking at the show in its totality, it was overload of car after car after car.

There were some old cars, and some new cars, some China cars, and some out of the blue cars. Cars. Everywhere the eye could see, all you could see was cars.

It is the Auto Show, after all, but that's not the point.

All I really saw was an overload and a sea of sameness. All the brands looked and felt the same. Bright lights, big city, big brands...and a big extravaganza. Big time. In looking back, I couldn't tell you one thing from another. Other than it was big. "Go big or go home," must have been the theme of the day.

The lesson learned? Big isn't always better. Louder just might be just louder, not necessarily clearer. And what others have done before you, is well, just what others have done before you. As in five minutes ago.

Differentiate! Break through the clutter! Separate from the noise! Be your brand, not someone else's brand.

That's what makes a trade show an ownable trade show, regardless of the category. That's what makes a brand, actually.

What's your experience? JIM.