The Difference Between Image and Identity and How They Matter in Positioning

What’s the difference between image and identity in personal branding?

Starting from the positioning that NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) should take to differentiate from psychology, as soon as an NLP specialist directly competes with a psychologist positioning himself as a psychologist but offering NLP services, this is not just a disservice made to himself or to his clients that he misleads, but also to psychology and NLP as domains, as he sends a confusing message to the broader market. Moreover, instead of having collaboration between the Romanian College of Psychologists (COPSI) and the Romanian Association for Neuro-Linguistic Programming (ARONLP) for a clear differentiation, as positioning employing the marketing strategy of the domains that exist in the market, there is a non-dialogue, or better said, anti-communication, too. This does not serve anyone.

Gerard O’Donovan, the founder of Noble Manhattan Coaching (a company represented in 7 countries), said during a course held in Bucharest: “Before I introduce myself, I first ask the other one who he is, what he does” – because thus he will be able to position himself better as a service provider before the regular person.

I, for example, am a:

  • marketer (I graduated from short-term studies in marketing + I worked for 1 year in branding + I worked for over 2 years in copywriting);
  • PR practitioner (public relations degree, 5-year university studies + PR consultancy, online and offline);
  • HR  consultant (2 Masters in HR + certified in the US as a Global Career Development Facilitator + 2 internationally recognized training courses in psychometric instruments + over 3 years of practice in career consulting + I took governmentally acknowledged classes in entrepreneurial consultancy + I worked as a consultant for entrepreneurs + I was a member of the Romanian Counsellors Association);
  • trainer (I was trained as a governmentally acknowledged trainer);
  • human resources inspector (specialized governmentally acknowledged training + I granted consultancy on issues related to the Labor Code);
  • author (I published 5 books + I have been an editor in various publications + I participated in/was awarded at various competitions and conferences with specialized papers + I published articles and short stories in magazines and newspapers + I wrote plays – even though I haven’t published them yet + I am a blogger + I completed a specialization in communication sciences);
  • blogger (I have been publishing on numerous blogs since 2007; I have 4 blogs, and I regularly post on 2 of them).

So, considering which audience I am addressing, I will choose one of these “sub-identities”. But beware!

  • I have worked, in total, about 3 years in socio-human research but I don’t consider myself a researcher;
  • I wrote plays but I never called myself a dramatist or a playwright;
  • wrote and published books, but I never called myself a writer (see here the difference between “author” and “writer”);
  • I took and published some excellent photographs but I never officially called myself a photographer;
  • I attended two film directors in shooting locations in Bucharest, but I’m not an assistant director!

Just because I went through certain activities, at a certain point, without necessarily being qualified for it (where applicable) does not mean that I can promote myself as a specialist or as an accredited person in those areas. Because I am not. And I don’t intend to be. It is my responsibility, as a training specialist, not to let the image go beyond identity, but always take a margin of error. No one is always right, and few are as clever as they think they are. Being a specialist always involves a clear delimitation. Not even a psychology Ph.D. is a specialist in psychology in general, but in that specific branch of psychology for which he has a Ph.D.: organizational psychology, psychotherapy, couple counseling, etc.

(keep reading ↓)

I come back to the initial idea. In this Romanian article, I started from a malpractice case in the psychology field. The psychology I refer to is that which belongs to marketing strategies of professional organizations dealing with accreditation, ethics, and regulation of professions. It could be argued that, from a legal point of view, neither NLP nor coaching specialization are governmentally acknowledged anywhere (at least to my knowledge). I mention the following fact: here we are not speaking legally, here we are speaking from the point of view of the market reality, and from the point of view of positioning certain standalone fields that already exist. The issue is not only an administrative one, implying acknowledgment. However, it is not only about that. The issue implies significance, which leads us to the field of image, beyond identity. This automatically transforms the particularity of this type of malpractice into a marketing one, which must be understood and dealt with in the right and appropriate terms.

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Happy personal development!

Thank you!

Marcus Victor Grant

Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant 2013-present. Translation by Cristiana Brezeanu of the article “Diferenţa între imagine şi identitate şi cum contează ele în poziţionare“, initially published in Romanian on April 30th, 2013, on Discerne. Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant, all rights reserved.

The materials published on this blog are covered by and subjected to this disclaimer.

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