Personal Branding Requires Authenticity


30x30x30 Blogathon Post #12:  June 12th – Lida Citroën

Our personal brands must be based in authenticity, not image or ‘spin’. Lida Citroen’s post on Day 12 of the Personal Branding Blogathon reminds us that in our effort to connect with others, we can lose our sense of self. Lida is an internationally recognized branding expert who provides clients around the world with comprehensive integrated branding, marketing and communication services; hence, the name of her company LIDA360! Her own authenticity comes out in her numerous media appearances and her energy and passion is truly contagious.

See Lida’s special offer below and enjoy her post.


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Personal Branding Requires Authenticity

From the time we are young, we are encouraged to get along and fit in with others.  Even my parents, European immigrants, were told to assimilate as quickly as possible into American culture to be accepted.

Being cooperative, assimilating and blending appears to be the goal.  However, in our effort to connect with others, we can lose our sense of self. We see this with teenage girls trying to conform to be popular, young adults trying to dress like their magazine idols, spouses wanting to be what the other desires in order to be happy, and employees trying to fit in with a corporate culture that goes against their values.

In a society that seems to reward sameness, we often lose the most valuable part of our personal brand: our authenticity.

As a personal branding specialist, author and speaker, my job is to help my clients and audiences create effective positioning in a target market based on their authentic value. I have never been good at “spin” or making someone into something they’re not.

Instead, I help my clients uncover their core beliefs, passions, values and build a marketing and communications strategy to build brand awareness, manage their reputation and create desired positioning based on what makes them unique, not what makes them look, sound and appear to be like everyone else.

Authenticity Explained

I define authenticity as “living the core goals, beliefs and values that guide your emotional, spiritual and intellectual self and that present through behavior.” In other words, when you are your most genuine self, you are being authentic. When we encounter you, are you being authentic?

“Are you representing yourself as you or as someone you think we’ll like?” Tweet This!

Being authentic means that across situations, I will experience you – and your commitment to your values – consistently. Since a brand is a promise of an experience, an authentic brand is one that has a consistent, dependable experience attached. Each time I experience you, I know I can expect you to be yourself (i.e. qualities such as friendly, honest, collaborative, inquisitive, etc.). I don’t have to worry that you will try to be someone you’re not just to impress me.

A Real Example

Last year I worked with a talented chief executive who had just facilitated the largest acquisition in telecommunications history. She had been instrumental in designing, negotiating and directing the transaction, and was lauded for her skills of financial design, operational innovation, teamwork, shareholder management and media relations.

When I worked with Susan (not her real name), she was beautifully scripted. She had her key messages ingrained and even knew which was her better side for media photographs.  Her presentation skills had been honed and crafted over many years of high-pressure public exposure.

With the acquisition, Susan was leaving her post. This presented a unique time in her life: No longer would her scripts be prepared for her, wardrobe carefully selected according to the audience, and schedule designed by an expert public relations team. She was on her own now.

Susan embraced this opportunity to examine and design her personal brand once and for all. In working together, Susan and I uncovered what really motivated her, what made her heart sing, and where her genuine self shined the brightest.

Our work together revealed many “ah ha’s’” as well as confirmed some beliefs:

  • Susan was great at building teams.
  • She loved to mentor young women coming up the corporate ladder.
  • She empathized with cross-functional teams struggling to build unity.
  • She believed passionately in transparency and honesty.
  • She loved her community!

All of these authentic passions, character traits and beliefs gave Susan and I a platform from which to design her personal brand strategy and create the next chapter in her personal and professional life. We designed a personal brand strategy and tactical plan that Susan found easier than expected to implement because it was based on authenticity. For once, Susan could be herself, and that was exciting to her!

Authenticity Isn’t Easy

In addition to working with corporate audiences, I work extensively with military veterans transitioning to civilian careers. For this audience, being authentic poses many challenges. In service, they are taught survival skills, including: cooperation, following orders, and yes, assimilation. The U.S. military supports “sameness” over individuality to ensure survival of the troops and mission.

For this group, teaching them how to find their core values, set expectations of the experience with them, and direct their actions according to the promise others can expect from them is challenging. Maybe it is for you, too?

To uncover your authentic self, here are some helpful tips:

  • Reflect on your passions. What do you enjoy doing? What do you love to talk about? What makes your heart race with excitement as you reflect on it?
  • When do you feel “inauthentic”? When do you find yourself not acting like yourself, going through the motions, trying to be someone else? Is there a pattern to this behavior?
  • Who do you enjoy being with? Adults? Children? Creative types or more analytical people? When do you feel most “like you?”
  • What feedback is most positive? When you reflect on feedback you’ve received, what makes you happiest? Is it a comment like, “You’re always on time”? Or, “You have such respect for our company protocol – showing up on time shows us you care about the company”? Look for other examples of times you have shared this same behavior – did you get similarly positive feedback?
  • Design your legacy? At the end of your life, when those left behind reflect on your contribution to your community, company, team and society, what do you want them to say was your legacy? What difference did you make? Did you live authentically and let people know what you value and believe?

Start Your Authenticity Today

Authenticity requires great introspection and humility. No one is perfect – we are all flawed. We also cannot turn the clock back and un-do mistakes (or inauthentic behaviors) from the past.

We can, however, move forward and make changes RIGHT NOW to live more authentically. Focus on being genuine.

Stop listening to the scripts of what you should do/believe/want/love/think, and listen to that quiet voice in your heart that knows what is right for you, above all.


Special Offer:  Peter’s fans can access my special FREE cheat sheet on how to “Craft the Perfect Elevator Pitch!” using authentic and intentional language. Wouldn’t you like to make your personal brand value known? Of course your would! Click here to download your FREE cheat sheet today! Sign up for my newsletter and blog, and receive personal branding, competitive advantage and reputation management tips…before your competitors do!



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About the author

Lida Citroen Lida Citroën is an international branding and reputation management specialist who designs and enhances the identities of companies, executives and thought-leaders globally. As principal and founder of LIDA360, LLC, she practices an integrated approach to branding, market strategy and communications that enhances the total customer experience and reduces the required investment for success. Lida's book, Reputation 360: Creating Power Through Personal Branding, (Palisades Publishing, 2011) is a best-selling guide to finding mission and gaining competitive advantage through reputation management.