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  • Writer's pictureKatie Amick

Redefining and Resilient – Alison Roman Aspirations

While she isn’t perfect – no one is – I admire the personal brand and resilience of cookbook writer and former New York Times columnist Alison Roman. Quick sidenote: I hate to admit this – I own both of Roman’s cookbooks (Dining In and Nothing Fancy) and have yet to attempt a single recipe. As a graphic designer and apparently Roman recipe collector (I also subscribe to her Substack newsletter and watch her YouTube videos religiously) – I am enamored with Roman’s conversational writing style, vibrant photography, and consistent overall design aesthetic (from her apartment to personal appearance to print and digital offerings – everything screams “Alison Roman!”). Red fingernails, retro serving dishes, beautiful vintage jewelry, and cozy Brooklyn apartment with pops of color and natural accents is how I would start describing Alison Roman to the masses. As Walters [3] elaborates:

If you know anything about millennial cooking, you probably know Alison Roman. After publishing her indulgent, Brooklyn-chic recipes in bestselling cookbooks like 2017’s Dining In, Roman shot to the upper echelons of celebrity chef stardom. As of 2021, Roman boasts over 500,000 Instagram followers and an impressive resume that includes stints at Bon Appétit, BuzzFeed Food, and The New York Times. After leaving her role as columnist for The New York Times in 2020, due to a controversial and public Twitter spat with Chrissy Teigen (via Page Six), Roman continued to publish recipes online through social media. Then, in January 2021, she launched a new weekly YouTube series called Home Movies (via Instagram).

While Alison Roman may be a somewhat controversial figure in the cooking world due to her public fall-out with Teigen, among other factors, her comfort food-meets-fine dining recipes epitomize contemporary New York-style cooking. In fact, as The New Yorker wrote, ‘Part of the appeal is her grasp of her audience: the financially unsteady millennial generation, which has turned ‘nothing fancy’ into an aesthetic choice’ (paras. 1-2).

As Personal Branding Expert Kristina Clive-Smith [1] emphasizes:

It’s pretty tough to uphold the brand promise of perfection for a lifetime, especially when living in the intense glare of the media spotlight. … If we’re outraged when there’s a crack in the façade, it’s because we’ve realized there is a façade and we’re not dealing with the real thing (p. 21).

When I read the above passage last week – Alison Roman popped in my mind. I think before her fall-out with Teigen her personal branding was very similar to Clive-Smith’s description of Martha Stewart’s. Stewart and Roman were too focused on perfection – with Roman possibly also being too transparent in her interviews. Although both women had “clear and consistent” brands before they were “found out,” there was indeed a “breakdown in the authenticity element” [1]. While I think Roman should have been more thoughtful in her interview approach – I chalk her mistake up to age and unfortunate arrogance. I do applaud her effort and bravery in trying to make amends with her stakeholders and think she has learned from this experience to move her brand forward in a positive and graceful manner. She is human and we should not have placed her on a pedestal.

With all that said, I find the positive brand attributes she conveys post-incident to be accepting, adventurous, approachable, aspiring, brave, charismatic, charitable, cheerful, dedicated, empowering, friendly, fun, honest, influential, inspiring, knowledgeable, passionate, self-motivated, strong, and transparent. Reflecting on my own brand, commonalities that I feel I share with Roman include being approachable, charitable, cheerful, dedicated, friendly, honest, knowledgeable, and self-motivated. I try to aspire to these personality traits each day – but do feel I need to really need to define my mission, values, and goals to myself (as Roman has done) to help develop my personal brand. I feel a bit disorganized considering how I can clearly describe her brand and not my own.

Along with her consistent and well-defined design aesthetic, Alison Roman’s confidence and how she empowers her audience are aspects of her personal brand that I find to be most compelling and that I would like to emulate in my brand refresh. I am excited to begin this journey and realize my brand will also ebb and flow with time. As Strayer [2] reminds us:

…you will need to make adjustments along the way as you learn new things about yourself and grow, your aspirations change or you find alternative paths you did not expect. Importantly, don’t be hard on yourself. No one has a perfect brand. We are all a continual work in progress. As the wise Chinese proverb states, ‘Be not afraid of going slowly, be afraid only of standing still’ (para. 16).

[1] Clive-Smith, K. (2018). Get Noticed, Be Remembered: Creating a Personal Brand Strategy for Success. Merack Publishing.

[2] Strayer, J. F. (2017, June 29). Seven Steps to Developing Your Personal Brand. Institute for Public Relations.

[3] Walters, M. (2021, April 5). The Untold Truth Of Alison Roman. Mashed.

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