Image Consulting is the profession of this decade in India. It offers excellent employment opportunities, enhancement of an existing job or business or an entrepreneurial career as an Image Consultant and Soft Skills Trainer. Just like any other profession even Image Consulting has certain myths attached with it and this article explodes those myths.
Myth 1: Image Consulting is a new profession
Fact: As far back as 1964, the super hit movie ‘My Fair Lady’, and a decade later, ‘Chhoti Si Baat’ in 1974 in India, had actors playing the role of an Image Consultant. It would take the turn of the century for them to be called by that name though.
First, if we look into what an Image Consultant does, we find that they offer services that are utterly familiar and have been around for a while now, although in isolation. Most people would be doing some of these for themselves – taking care of clothing, grooming, body language, vocal communication and other soft skills. But, doing some of these things while ignoring the others and doing it with amateur knowledge leaves these individuals feeling incomplete. The feeling of inadequacy is also because they could be dealing with just the outer aspects, copying what someone else is doing. With Image Consulting, they gain expert advice that is just right for them.
There’s nothing new about Image Consulting, except the fact that Image Consultants are experts in Image Management in contrast to mothers, fathers, teachers and well-wishers who have always provided guidance. Further, Image Consultants are a composite of individual experts – communication trainers, grooming and etiquette experts, experts in body language, appearance management experts, style consultants and more – bringing together all the elements to provide complete, expert guidance, because it is no longer enough to handle just one part of the Image Management domain.
Second, the reason people continuously try to project a positive image is to make the most of opportunities and thereby reach their goals and aspirations in life. Image Consulting helps them do just that. It is all about helping people receive more opportunities in life by creating powerful first impressions. And when these opportunities come calling, Image Consulting helps people make the most of them. It instils the soft skills needed to do so, not just at the outer level, but also brings out the person from within to transform the external. We live in a competitive world where we need to stand out just to survive. This overwhelming need is felt by all, increasing the demand for Image Consultants tremendously.
Myth 2: Only celebrities, the rich and the famous hire Image Consultants
Fact: Think of the medical profession. Sooner or later, with greater or lesser frequency, depending on our goals in life, and our habits, everyone needs medical treatment. Similarly, everyone needs Image Management. From CEOs to employees at the lowest rung, multinational companies to small enterprises, people living in metros to the smallest towns and villages, high net worth individuals to those from the lower socio-economic strata, from home makers to retired personnel to career people, everyone needs image management. And these different segments of people are seeking the services of Image Consultants.
This is the reason behind the large Rs.624 crores per annum market size of Image Consulting in India. The more interesting aspect is that this market is growing exponentially. If celebrities, the rich and the famous were the only people to hire Image Consultants, the market would not be a quarter this size, nor would it show the kind of tremendous growth it has been showing.
In fact Image Consulting is needed in all threshold situations in life wherein there is a change in role and consequently changes in goals.
Myth 3: Only high profile people can become Image Consultants
Fact: When the market itself is spread across the length and breadth of the nation, of hierarchy and of varied profiles of people, it stands to reason that Image Consultants cannot be the domain only of high profile individuals.
You may be familiar with those in the limelight. But, surrounding them are hundreds of other Image Consultants working with homemakers, students, professionals, companies, entrepreneurs, politicians, would-be brides and grooms, those seeking entry into the work outside home, those seeking promotion or a change in profile, those shifting from one culture to another, from a small town or village to the big city, to different industry verticals and many more. The domains in which these Image Consultants work are too numerous to list.
Image Consultants are in fact experts with in-depth knowledge of a segment or of multiple segments and hence they choose to serve the segments they know best. They are experts with passion and a strong desire to help people change their lives. Such people, with the right training and support, become Image Consultants.
Each Image Consultant comes from a certain background or is attracted to a certain background. They use this as the basis to select their target markets. Some choose an unserved or underserved market like prison convicts for example, going out of their way to understand the market and its requirements in its entirety. Their familiarity with and knowledge of the domain coupled with the training provided to turn them into expert Image Consultants takes them miles ahead of those within the domain who require their services and in that sense, their relevant competence is far ahead. This places them in a position to guide, explain and support the people who seek their services to make the most of opportunities and to expand their horizons. Hence, it isn’t just high profile individuals who become Image Consultants, but those with deep knowledge of target markets, the expertise and the passion to guide others towards an enhanced life.
Being a successful Image Consultant is about the market that one targets and the market segment wherein one will have credibility. People with work experience or even with no professional experience but experience of life as a homemaker can also make effective and successful Image Consultants.
ICBI has trained several Image Consultants who came with an experience of homemaking and they are doing wonderfully well for themselves.
As an example watch these videos of successful Image Consultants Jaya Gawande and Anu Malla
Myth 4: Image Consulting is a profession for women
Fact: No domain is the prerogative of one gender. There was a time when doctors, elected representatives and chefs, to name a few, were all men. Many such rigidities exist across cultures. These rigid notions are being broken down by individuals who know that such bifurcations are limiting not just to themselves, but to everyone who could benefit from expert services. These individuals look deep into themselves to understand which domain draws them close, and irrespective of people’s perceptions, they go for what their heart and mind dictate. We do best what we love and what our inner calling is. In following their calling, these individuals perform exceedingly well and gain the respect of those around them.
Today, more women are attracted to the profession simply because a base of women Image Consultants was built due to a host of factors and they have served as examples for other women. But, there is an increasing trend towards Image Consulting from men and these men are equally successful in the profession. What determines their success is their passion for the domain and their knowledge of the market they choose to serve. They in fact, might have an upper hand when serving domains which are predominantly male, like sales for example.
In fact one of the most successful Image Consultants from ICBI is male.
Myth 5: Youngsters cannot become Image Consultants
Fact: Youngsters have an excellent future as Image Consultants. Image Consulting is not a field that demands grey hair. Youth brings great energy, but more importantly it has the ability to see things afresh. Today, the world and its cultures are in a flux. This is particularly true for India. Anyone who has the ability to perceive this insistent demand for change and who has the necessary training to keep it in perspective, has the ability to help their clients convert themselves in phases or in one large sweep to the new image they must project in their own best interests – an image that makes them feel far more comfortable with themselves, one that makes them feel that this is the ‘real me’.
Many people are caught in old notions and habits and ways of doing things, including dressing, grooming, body language, vocal communication and more. Not only are they ill-equipped to deal with the new situations and opportunities thrown up by the changing world, they live in deep discomfort – unable to fit into the old world, yet not ready for the new world.
Image Consultants are particularly well-equipped to handle these cultural transitions since they are trained to understand clients’ goals in life, to perceive what the clients’ audience seeks, and thereby work out what best suits the clients to help achieve their goals. Age is no bar for this, and youth is particularly well-tuned to these changes. The fact that they can understand their market, as any Image Consultant does, and the fact that they can be experts in Image Management, coupled with their ability to look beyond past traditions makes them good Image Consultants. Listen to some of our successful Image Consultants in their early twenties.
ICBI has trained several youngsters as Image Consultants and they are making their mark in this domain.
Watch these videos of Benaisha and Aishwarya who are doing extremely well as an Image Consultant.
Myth 6: Image Consultants cannot find full-time jobs
Fact: Every Image Consultant is also a fashion stylist, a style consultant, a grooming consultant, a communications trainer, an expert adviser in body language, is well-versed with the norms of etiquette, to name a few of the services they are fully geared to delivering.
As such, the world is open for them to become either an entrepreneur-consultant or to undertake a full-time job in any of these profiles. The only choice they must make is in deciding what attracts them. Premium Fashion, Media & Entertainment, Airlines, hospitality, retail, industries which have sales, client servicing, support, pre-sales, marketing personnel, in effect every industry that requires customer-facing personnel seeks image consulting. Today, companies are also seeing the need for Image Management for their back-end personnel too. Many have entire departments and year-round training programmes to train their personnel periodically.
Some of our Image Consultants have chosen to take up full-time jobs as Style Consultants, Stylists, Image Consultants, and Trainers etc. It is the Image Consultant’s choice whether to seek a full-time job or to be an entrepreneur-consultant.
Myth 7: Image Consulting is all about clothes
Fact: It is a fact, Image Consultants know more about clothes than fashion designers do in terms of the impact it creates on the audience and in meeting the clients’ goals in life.
Yet, clothing is just one element within the domain of Image Management. It goes hand in hand with the other components that make up the complete framework of one’s image – appearance, behaviour, communication and the digital footprint. Each element and component must be in synchrony to create a complete and lasting effect. As such, Image Consultants are experts in all the elements and the finer components of Image Management and hence are the answer to the client’s need for Image Management.
Every Image Consultant chooses the areas and segments that they want to work with. In fact many of them do not do any work related with clothing and some do all their work related with clothing.
It’s time to see the myths that surround Image Consulting as just myths and not mistake them for reality. It is time to recognise the immense potential of Image Consulting in helping us leverage today’s world of great flux and high competition.
Learn more about how to become and image consultant.
Watch this video of Suman Agarwal talking about Image Consulting as a career for women