It’s important to understand image. Your brand exudes a certain image and is made up of the following:
Tangibles & Intangibles[i]
Tangible—Can you play accurately? Do you show up on time? Are you a good sight-reader?
Intangible—Do you have a beautiful sound? Are you musical? Do you make the notes come alive? Do you add something extra with your presence in the group?
Tangible attributes are vulnerable to competition
The tangibles can be competed away. Someone will always play faster, higher and louder, but the intangibles are less vulnerable. If you have an incredibly beautiful, personal sound it is difficult to duplicate. Think of all the top musicians who play your instrument. You can usually identify them upon hearing just a few notes. It’s the intangibles—their sound, phrasing, musical idiosyncrasies, the style of music they play and so on that sets them apart.
Points of Parity and Points of Difference[ii]
Points of Parity—These are the “must haves” just to be considered at all. They are sometimes called table stakes. Every musician competing for a certain job must have them just to get in the game. For example, if you want to be an orchestra horn player, it is a given that you will be absolutely fluent with transposition.
Points of Difference—These are the things that raise you above the others. Staying with the horn example, if you have a fantastic, never-miss high register and the endurance to go with it, the number of competitors is reduced. You are elevated above the pack.
Know Your Image
This one is important. Your image lives within the minds of the market, and not within your wishful thinking. You can try to put forth the image that you want, but your audience (again—co-workers, contractors, conductors, producers, etc.) actually creates that image.
Image, Identity and Positioning—What’s the Difference? Image is the impression that the market holds of you. Identity is the impression you want to give the market. Positioning relates to the elements of Identity that you present to various target audiences.[iii] For example, if you are a composer as well as a fine instrumentalist, you might present only your composer side when entering a composition contest. But, when playing a recital you might program one of your own pieces. The important thing is to know your image. What do people associate with you? Is it good? Are you comfortable with it?
[i] Kevin Lane Keller, Strategic Brand Management (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1998), p. 5.
[ii] Keller, Strategic Brand Management, p. 357.
[iii] Aaker and Joachimsthaler, Brand Leadership, p. 40-41.