It’s 2016 and everyone has a “personal brand.” Taylor Swift has one, Justin Timberlake has one, even American Idol favorite (…favorite?) William Hung has one.

The question is, do I have one? Do you?

Let’s back up. What’s a brand? When I think of Apple, I think clean lines, beautiful devices, and cutting-edge (or at least…they were cutting-edge) electronics. When I think of Whole Foods, I think vegan-friendly, overpriced and #allthetofu (but that may just be me). Hell, even when I think of a brand I hate, like Chipotle, I think faux concern for animals, huge burritos, and “upscale” fast food.

With that background, what’s a personal brand? To me, a personal brand is a collection of characteristics, traits, and skills that makes you, well, you. It’s in everything from how you come across to someone you’ve just met, to how your friends think of you, to (these days) what happens what someone Googles you.

So, what the fuck is my personal brand and why am I worried about it?

If I had to guess, I would say my personal brand involves words like the following: vegan, animal-lover, free spirit, hates commitment, loves fiercely, hurts just as fiercely, feminist, humanist, wanderer…and those are just a few. I’m sure my friends and loved ones would add some words to this list (hopefully good ones).

Why does it matter? Well, maybe it doesn’t. But in building up my freelance writing career (shameless plug in 3, 2…1), I’ve been reading a lot of advice that says you should have a “focus.” Read: heading to sell to clients. Think “animal rights writer” or “feminist blogger” or “vegan foodie.”

And I get that that focus is important for a career (or…clearly, I don’t…given that I just left mine to go wandering around the world), but is it important in life? Do I have to check a box on a resume that says I only write about social justice, or food, or travel? How bad is it that I want to write about – and talk about – and think about – all of those?

Can I check a box that says “I want to change the world and I think there are a lot of ways it’s broken, not just one”?

Is it that I have varying interests or is it that I’m unfocused? I haven’t really decided and these are the types of issues I struggled with for a long time, especially because most lawyers seem to have a pretty narrow focus.

Maybe I do have a focus, it’s just bigger than “vegan writer” or “intellectual property lawyer” or “doggie mom.”

Perhaps, it’s enough to have a focus on wanting to make the world a better place.

That can be my new personal brand: #LetsFixTheWorldTogether.

What’s your personal brand?

Image By: Ryan Rancatore