Lessons from wine country on being yourself.

By Luke Sklar and Amber Hudson

I recently had the good fortune to travel through Napa Valley, where posh meets farm, the wine is sublime, the food is world class and the locals are in your face friendly.

Yet when you cut below the surface there’s just a bit more nuance:  wineries turned into mausoleums of tourist tastings, insult pricing, the traffic jams.  In fact, take sunny California as a whole:  it’s super friendly, youthful, casual, optimistic; a place where dreams are made.  But dig a little deeper and you have the plumped-up fakeness of Hollywood, the I’ll-steal-your-code quirkiness of Silicon Valley and now the Disney-fication of Northern California wine country.

Contrast California with New York City where what you see is what you get…gritty, dirty, loud, alive. Gotta love in-your-face NYC.   So what’s a brand to do:  fake it ‘til you make it?   Or bare it all, take it or leave it?

To brands we say bring out your inner NYC:  don’t pander to your target, don’t cover up your flaws, don’t try so hard to make a buck.   Stand up for what you believe and those who buy in will keep coming back for more.