The Title Identity Challenge


Title IdentityDoes your title fit what you do? For many of us, regardless of the size of the business we work in, frequent shopping excursions to the haberdashery in addition to what you, your co-workers and your clients think you’re supposed to be doing is just part of the job.

Titles imply certain things,  and, as a result, the way we are viewed and engaged can be different depending on who you’re talking to and the nature of the conversation. A title that seems too big for the role you are playing might make people apprehensive or uncomfortable, whereas a title that seems lower than your role can leave people with a lack of confidence. Sometimes, the title just doesn’t match the role being played and it might leave your audience confused.

Part of the confusion is a lack of uniformity in the agency world. PR firms might use one set of account executive titles, while ad agencies conform to a slightly different standard. Add in the fact that many agencies cross over into multiple services and there’s no clear standard to follow.

A number of agencies have adopted a sort of irreverent approach to titles. We’ve all seen, or you may have a title that takes this approach. It might use a non- traditional title like “Wizard” supported by a multitude of possible adjectives. While it certainly presents a fun factor, especially if you’re in the creative space, with the wrong audience this might be perceived as a lack of seriousness - or even might be received as pretentious.

My own completely non-creative title of COO/CFO identifies me in a way that doesn’t completely fit my overall company role or the agency lifestyle. It definitely describes a certain set of duties and responsibilities, but it leaves a gaping hole in the imagination when my role includes client services, creative brainstorming and direct project engagement.

Most titles don’t really say all that much about the person who has it, but the perception can mean quite a bit more. Rather than hand out a business card and expect someone to just know, take a moment to describe yourself and what it is that you actually do. When you’ve worked in any agency for any length of time, you’re definitely going to be wearing a few different hats.