More industries than ever are now using image consultants — making image consultancy one of the fastest-growing industries of 2021. In a digital-first, always-on world, people need to be particularly conscientious about the way they represent themselves. Image consultancy is expanding into many industries that you might not have imagined.
The first career most people think of when they hear “image consultants” is likely celebrities. But celebrity means something different in 2021. In addition to actors and musicians, there are also Instagram models, YouTube stars, and Twitch streamers. In fact, pretty much everyone who has a social media following today can use the services of an image consultant.
It isn’t just that people need to protect themselves from potentially saying the wrong thing or engaging with the wrong people. It’s also that individuals need to proactively curate their image to extend their brand. Trying to get followers, clicks, views, and likes is extremely archaic to many. Image consultants can help celebrities develop their persona in a way that really resonates with their audience — thereby helping them with their marketing, branding, and exposure.
Many celebrities are already very well-practiced with cultivating their own personal image. But that doesn’t mean they’re knowledgeable about the way information flows, including press releases, news articles, and social media accounts. Yesterday, celebrities were primarily concerned with news channels. Today, celebrities need to be concerned about memes and viral videos. An image consultant can serve as a gateway between celebrities and this new world of media management.
Politicians undergo a lot of preening, from makeup and fashion advice to etiquette. Politicians need to be careful about everything. Due to the 24-hour news cycle, articles can be written about what a politician wears, where they eat, and who they are seen with. Image consultants can weigh in when politicians want to know how their actions will be seen, how they can best present themselves, and how they can make sure that their image properly represents their values.
Image consultancy is not about “hiding.” In fact, it’s the opposite. Image consultancy is about finding the best ways to display who a person is, without misunderstandings and without mistakes. Politicians can use the services of an image consultant to make sure that their words, actions, and image reflect the general vibe that they want to give out — and avoid any potential missteps that could confuse the meaning of their message. When it comes to politicians who truly want to connect with their constituents and represent them, it’s important that communication be consistent and clear.
Many politicians, especially lower-level politicians, believe that the earnestness and strength of character they have will be enough. But because there’s so much information (and even misinformation) to go through, an image consultant is needed more than ever.
The life of a high-powered executive practically demands corporate image consulting. Image consultants don’t just help the CEO with their outward image, but also with their confidence. Many companies pay for an image consultant for their CEO. If their CEO is seen the wrong way — whether that’s irresponsible or weak — the company’s value can tank. Companies want their CEO’s identity to align with their brand. Often, that requires a lot of work to make sure that the CEO is able to fit in.
CEOs need to do a lot of image curation because they’re often representing thousands or even tens of thousands of their company’s employees. They need to look strong and confident so that people trust them with large businesses — and, often, they aren’t going to stay with a single business their entire career. Having a private image consultant can help CEOs who are going to transition into new endeavors or who want to keep the door open.
Many CEOs are still embracing the transition to a digital world, in which everything they say, whether on television or on social media, is recorded constantly. CEOs need to be aware of the way that the digital-first world works and the precautionary steps they need to take to avoid being taken the wrong way. Many CEOs have been removed after internet outcry, as it’s easy for people to say the wrong thing in the wrong company.
Lawyers, real estate agents, and other service-focused professionals need to exude an air of professionalism and polish. As such, they often hire image consultants. Image consultants can act similar to a form of marketing; the product is yourself. Professionals need to be able to show that they are competent, friendly, and capable, and they need to be disarming to their core audience. An image consultant can help professionals determine what type of brand identity they should have to appeal best to their core audience.
Today, an awful lot of marketing is done online. There are entire careers that have been tanked by a bad response to an online review or a misplaced comment on social media. Image consultants can help professionals understand the role that digital media plays in their lives, as well as the ways in which they want to present themselves to really excel at their careers. Some image consultants will focus on a specific industry, such as law, while others will operate more broadly.
The Changes 2021 Brought to the Image Consulting Industry
It’s not just the industries that use image consulting that are changing. It’s the industry of image consulting itself.
The internet has changed things for a lot of people. Most people today are more exposed than they realize. But this exposure is also a good thing; it’s what leads to a broader audience and a broader client base. With the help of an image consultant, individuals are able to carefully curate their image for the benefit of their careers. CEOs can improve their marketability. Celebrities can land more jobs. And professionals can get more clients.
The number of industries that use image consultants will only likely grow as the digital world becomes more attached to the real world. Already, employers are able to look up everything a prospective employee says on social media. Tomorrow, it may become habitual for everyone, including landlords, to look people up online before making final decisions. Having a curated image and a curated social presence is exactly what people of tomorrow will need to ensure that they are taken seriously and respected.