Many companies, business people and celebrities engage an image consultant to build a personal brand. You may be wondering what an image consulting company does, and whether you would benefit from the coaching? Read on to see why it is so important.
An image consultant helps you make a great first impression
It may seem superficial, however, the external image that you project to the world is the first thing that anybody sees. It is the basis for their first impressions of you. Have you ever heard that it only takes five seconds to make a first impression? When someone first meets you – in a job interview or business pitch or networking event – they will make their decision about you in the first five seconds.
And once these decisions are made, it can be an uphill battle to change them.
In a digital world, you don’t even get the chance to meet people to make that first impression yourself. It still happens in approximately five seconds (or less if your site is too slow). When someone first sees your website or Facebook page, your professional photo on your LinkedIn profile or your latest content release on Instagram, it must be congruent with your professional image. Image matters, whether we like it or not. And when your entire personal brand, business and possibly your lifeblood, is based on your image, this first impression is vital.
Have you ever stopped to think why Facebook is called that? The face we present to the world is far more important than most people initially realise.
And remember, you are no longer competing against similar businesses in your local area – your competition is the whole web.
An image consultant helps you make your image your brand
We think of high-profile business executives and magnates, or of media personalities and celebrities, sports identities or start-up tech wizards as the types of people who are ‘branded’.
But for so many more people today they are the face and soul of their business. And they need to consider what they put out there for the public to assess them on. Even if you work for someone else, you are a representative of that business, as well as of yourself as an individual professional.
A few short decades ago you could be the owner of a small local business and you didn’t have to consider much past the fact that you should welcome people walking in the door, and give them good service. These days there is no such thing as small or local business. Reach is global, and that smile you need to show when people walk in the door is now a digital image that must be switched on all the time.
Caroline Jane Knight is a businesswoman, founder of the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation, and author of Jane & Me: My Austen Heritage. She had this to say about hiring an image consultant:
“The biggest thing is to think about myself objectively as a brand. And that’s something that, to begin with, is quite an odd thing to do. It takes a little bit of practice to be able to think about yourself in that way. And I was probably, like a lot of people, a little bit resistant in the early stages of thinking of myself like that.
But at the end of the day, it is how the world works and, you know, if you want to get ahead nowadays, it isn’t just about being good at what you do. It is about how you package that up and how you sell it to people.
Not only did my earning potential increase very nicely, also my confidence increased.”
An image consultant knows that behind every successful business, there are people
Although the way we engage today is unfortunately almost entirely through computers and technology, we still crave people behind the screens. It is possibly even more important than ever. When potential customers search for you online they still need to connect with the person behind the business. And because they aren’t meeting you personally, your image is one of the best things you have.
This is where an image consultant comes in.
Your image needs to:
- Quickly and concisely define who you are
- Be easily accessible to your potential audience
- Explain what you can offer people and why they should pay attention to you
- Be engaging and relevant
- Be congruent with your target clientele
- Set you apart from your competition
- Give you a platform to present your message to the world
Alan Quinton is the Deputy Chief of the Melbourne Fire Brigade and has worked in the MFB for close to 40 years. He is perhaps not the sort of person you would imagine seeking out an image consultant, but as Alan himself explains, working on your image is not a superficial act, but a way to realise your potential.
“I would encourage anyone that is looking to round themselves off. Who are not quite making the mark in whatever they’re trying to achieve,” Alan says.
“People have it there, and [an image consultant] just polishes it for you, and brings it to the fore. Works with what’s in front of them, and doesn’t change you in any shape or form. But works with what’s there, and helps you reach your potentials.”
A credible image consultant works with you on your exterior image, then delves into your personal values to help you find the spark that makes not only what you do, but why you do it. Your coaching will set you up to present the authentic you to your audience and show the difference you make to the world. A skilled image consultant will help you craft an image that perfectly presents you. And they will show you the best avenues to engage with your target audience.
An image consultant can help when your image needs an overhaul
You may already have made a first impression on the world (or second, or third…), but it may not quite be the one you wanted the world to see. Or maybe your image is a bit tired, or has been damaged in some way. An image consultant can help you too; to build or rebuild your personal or company brand with good, sound real-world advice and guidance. And build or turn your brand and business around with it.
In a digital universe, your projected image is the first and best tool that you have. Make sure it’s the congruent one, and that everyone can see it.
Originally published at www.bizthinktank.com.au on March 8, 2018.