What Is a Brand and Is Yours a Good One—Key Measures of Success

Posted on July 27, 2011 at 9:57 am by
in Being a Professional, Musicans as Brands
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The ultimate measures of success are trial and repeat, and the buyer is the final judge. If a manufacturer of just about anything, from dishwashing detergent to automobiles, gets you to try their product, and you are satisfied and return to purchase again, that is success.  Using a music example, let’s say you get a last minute call to sub on a woodwind quintet educational concert in a high school.  That’s your trial.  If it goes well you are a hero, even if your playing isn’t absolutely flawless.  In a last minute situation the other players’ expectations are reduced, and they will cut you some slack.  They’ll be happy to get through the gig without any major train wrecks!  But even if you do a great job and impress the other four musicians they might not immediately call you back.  There just might not be another opportunity for a while.   That quintet already has a permanent member, and as long as he or she continues to do good work, it will remain his or her position.  However, the chances are very good that they will recommend you to other groups, or at least relay the story of how you saved the day.

 

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What Is a Brand and Is Yours a Good One—Brand Image Associations

Posted on July 16, 2011 at 9:50 am by
in Being a Professional, Musicans as Brands
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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.

 

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What Is a Brand and Is Yours a Good One—It’s All about Connection

Posted on July 6, 2011 at 9:43 am by
in Being a Professional, Musicans as Brands
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Here is the third installment in this series of blogs that discuss the musician as a brand.  If you are new you can catch up quickly by reading the two previous posts.

You’ve probably heard the cliché, “To get ahead it’s not how you play, but who you know.”  Certainly having connections or a network of friends and acquaintances can help your career, but that’s for another blog.  What we will discuss here, for a moment, is the manner in which you connect, or bond, with your audience—the public, other musicians, contractors, conductors, producers, agents, etc., etc.  In the end your success will depend upon how well you and your brand bond with your audience, which can be on different levels.[i] It could be that you connect:

Cognitively—They are aware of you and are familiar with your abilities.  Do they consider you all the time?  Are you the only one they consider? Are you one of many, one of a few or not on their radar screen at all?

Behaviorally—They may consider many, but they always come back to you.

Emotionally—They like you.  They’ve hired you for years.  You are friends.  Or, they don’t like you.  They had a run-in with you years ago and have never forgotten it.

Fit—Do your abilities and personality fit the need of the occasion perfectly, somewhat, or not at all?   Are you well versed in the style of music required?  Do you have a good attitude about playing it?

In the next post we’ll discuss image.

 


FN: [i] Marianne Foley,  In-Market Validation of  Connections-Based Research, Harris Interactive, Inc. (executive brief) 2007.

 

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