Review: ‘On Brand’ will help you build a personal brand


“On Brand: Shape Your Narrative. Share Your Vision. Shift Their Perception,” by Aliza Licht, (Union Square & Co. 2023) is part memoir, part workbook and full of practical advice on building a personal brand. We live in a world where every job application comes with a Google search and a deep dive into our online persona. Licht argues that you are putting out a personal brand whether you are aware of it or not, so it is in everyone’s best interest to put some thought into how they want to be perceived.

We also live in a world where employment is more tenuous than ever. “To succeed, we must have the means to convey who we are no matter what the medium,” writes Licht. “A strong personal brand sets you apart from the pack and secures your professional longevity.”

Licht starts off the book with her personal background in marketing and public relations, including her time at Donna Karen New York. Though this section might be a bit too “inside baseball” for those outside the industry, stick with it for her tips and branding exercises.

To explain a personal brand, Licht writes, “The impression others have of you stems from how you tell your story and express your unique combination of personality, experience, and skills. It lies in both the spoken and unspoken, and in your mannerisms, energy, and attitude, whether in person, online, in the media, or by word of mouth. It’s your visual identity and the things you choose to surround yourself with. It’s what people think you do, who you are, and what you stand for. Saying something is on brand for you means that it aligns with you aesthetically or in concept. People’s perception of you becomes their reality of you, whether you like it or not. Your personal brand is a powerful tool that, if mishandled, can cause harm.”

Licht’s need to revamp her brand came when she left her job of 17 years and wanted to do something different. People saw her as a PR person, but she needed them to view her differently. One tip that I love is to list everything you know how to do, and then cross out the things you don’t want to do. The purpose of this exercise is to focus on what’s most important to you to create messaging around it. The other benefit of this exercise is that it reminds you that just because you can do something, it doesn’t mean you want to or should. People often fall into career ruts; honing your message is not only for others but also for yourself.

While Licht was an early adopter of social media in her career, her advice is to purchase your name as a domain name and create a personal website. She writes, “Your website is the only place on the internet where you get a 100 percent share of voice, meaning that you have the luxury of positioning yourself in exactly the way that’s most effective for you. It’s your personal flagship to the world.” If you build your personal brand solely on a social media platform, it is outside your control, and, if the platform goes down, so does your brand.

Another exercise Licht recommends is creating a Venn diagram of your interests so you “can connect the dots between your interests to understand how you’re showing up publicly or should be.” This will help you see how your focus areas overlap and where they stand alone.

She continues, “Venn diagrams can help us see ourselves, where our interests lie, and how those interests influence our communication. When you’re done, ask yourself if what you want to be known for is at the center of your Venn diagram. If it’s not, start again until you figure out the right combination for your brand focus.”

With that information, she suggests you return to your social media bios and make sure they all connect. As she points out, “Consistency and repetition are the secrets to becoming known for something.”

In addition to achieving clarity on what you want to do and be known for, Licht advises people to build self-awareness and to take a “pulse-check” of the people around you. “Our family, friends, and colleagues might have a different perspective on who we are than we do,” she writes.

She suggests creating a Google form where people can answer questions about you anonymously. Not only does Licht include the questions to ask, she also walks the reader step-by-step through setting up the form. Licht does warn that you might not like all the answers but argues that it will help you bridge the gap between how you see yourself and how you want to be known.

An important part of personal brand is telling people what you’ve accomplished. This is really hard for most people to do! Licht points out that not only can taking stock of what you did well allow you to appreciate the success for longer, but it can also lead to a list of the “tactics that helped you succeed.” She also includes a checklist to make sure you aren’t bragging, which can be detrimental to a personal brand.

She recommends that for every personal win you share, you make sure to amplify five other people and their accomplishments. If you are sharing accomplishments at work, she advises you pair your win with a result that serves the goal of the collective. How did your success help your team?

Other workplace advice includes how to communicate in a professional manner, write persuasive emails and do well as a public speaker. She advises that you know and understand the media policy at your company and what is and is not allowed, from using the company name in your bio to accepting speaking engagements.

Licht understands that not everyone wants to be on social media. She doesn’t expect anyone to be on every platform and advises you to focus on one at the bare minimum. “Out of all the platforms, however, it’s my opinion that LinkedIn can be the most effective, especially if you’re someone who doesn’t want to be on social media,” she writes. “The good news for those of you who don’t want to post is that the comments themselves are a breeding ground for inserting your personal brand.”

The book also includes advice for topics from how to be ready for a crisis, to rebranding, to achieving visual consistency. I really loved what she had to say about networking, something that can feel so fraught and weird to so many people. She points out that “Networking is not about adding contacts to your phone. It’s about building authentic relationships. To create a genuine relationship, you MUST give as much as you take.” To keep track of everyone, she also recommends keeping a document “of the people in your network who are invaluable assets to your career” and to make a point of reaching out to ask what they are up to and catch up without asking for anything.

While this book is positioned for those just starting out in their careers, it really has great advice for people at every stage and would be particularly useful for those pivoting careers as the author herself did. This is an easy-to-follow guide to creating an outward-facing presentation of yourself that aligns with who you most want to be and the life you most want to live.


SARAH GREENLEAF ( is the digital marketing specialist for the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island and writes for Jewish Rhode Island.

On Brand, Aliza Licht, Behind the book