Ask a roomful of people (I’ve done it), “What’s your brand?” and most of them will quickly respond, “My logo.” It’s not a bad answer. It’s just incomplete. It lacks context.

Your logo is, at most, an aspect of your brand. Especially in your advertising or on your website, it’s the first thing people notice. It may be the first thing that causes the beholder to form an impression: “Hmm … nice logo.” Or, “What the hell is that … an optical delusion, the newest mulching lawnmower blade, or some kind of weapon for Celtic Ninjas?”

But it’s no more or less your brand than your nose is the entirety of you to someone who’s meeting you for the first time: “Hmm … nice aquiline profile.” Or, “What the hell is that … a snoot, a dual-booster jetpack, or a meat locker?” The impression – whether of your logo or of your proboscis – isn’t complete. It isn’t contextual. It will continue to be informed by other aspects of identity and personality. And that continuation begins to complete the context in which your brand is perceived.

I’m not trying to sell noses short. Breathing, giving support to your chichi Ray Bans, and providing an excavation site for otherwise idle fingers are vitally critical jobs. But your brand has more important work to do.

The only person whose nose was his brand was Jimmy “The Schnoz” Durante. But he had a career of more than 60 years in which to establish that brand. We have Twitter, ADHD, and very little time to contemplate the cause and effect of Twitter and ADHD. Consequently, we have to give our brands identity, voice, value, and presence.

We have to position our brands to be fully perceived such that they become instruments of our achieving market share. We have to do that because there’s no other meaningful measure of success. And we have to be steadfast and relentless about it because, if we aren’t, we’ll simply be overtaken, overwhelmed, and superseded by the brands that are steadfast and relentless about it.

When it comes to scents, the nose knows. When it comes to sense, your nose is not your brand. Neither is your logo.

Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.

Trailer screenshot (Broadway to Hollywood trailer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.