15: How to Work With a Branding Expert with Aaron Pierson

15: How to Work With a Branding Expert with Aaron Pierson

November 08, 2016

Amber Hurdle knows many women in business do not know how to work with a graphic designer, let alone a branding expert. That’s why she interviews branding expert, Aaron Pierson, in this episode of the Bombshell Business Podcast–to answer common branding questions and make the world of how to brand your business much more approachable!

Aaron is a Digital Brand Strategist, Killer Content Creator, Filmmaker, Author and Award Winning Designer. He focuses on business solutions that encourage the promotional growth of digital entrepreneurs and content creators and specializes in devising creative ways to maximize the full potential of a client’s digital footprint. Through many creative channels and “out of the box” methods, Aaron advances his client’s brand, while maintaining marketing driven by consumer behavior.

Learn More About Aaron Pierson

Connect with Aaron on Social Media:

Snapchat handle: aaronpierson

Check out Aaron’s websites (& podcast):  www.aaronpierson.com & www.vitals.agency

Episode 15: How to Work With a Branding Expert with Aaron Pierson

This episode was transcribed for your reading convenience, based on a verbal conversation.  Please forgive grammatical errors.

Welcome to the Bombshell Business Podcast, where driven fempreneurs learn how to become more bold, brave and unwaveringly confident. Turn your dreams into actionable, marketable and profitable plans and make your business irresistible. Here’s your host, Amber Hurdle.

Amber: Welcome back to the Bombshell Business Podcast, we’re women who are fempreneurs and beyond to learn how to be more bold, brave and unwavering confident in their business and their life.

I’m your host Amber Hurdle and I have a great episode for you today, in the theme of gratitude – like I am sticking with for all of November – I am bringing on people who are very, very, important to me, who have played a major role in my own business success and my personal success and so I am, super excited to have Aaron Pierson, on the Bombshell Business Podcast with us today.

Aaron is a Digital Brand Strategist, killer Content Creator, Film Maker, author a Best-Selling Author – if I can add that in – and Award-Winning Designer.  

He focuses on business solutions and encourage the promotional growth of Digital Entrepreneurs and Content Creators and specialises in devising creative ways to maximise the full potential of a Clients’ digital footprint, through many creative channels in ‘out of the box’ methods – my favourite kind – Aaron advances his Clients’ brand, while maintaining marketing, driven by consumer behaviour.

Thank you so much friend for being on my Podcast today.


Anthony: Absolutely, Amber, I am totally honoured, really stoked to be here and as soon as you asked me I’m like – “duh! Of course I’ll come on.  Like I’d be happy to, just to share our experiences together, and so I appreciate it.  Thank you, Amber.

Amber: Absolutely.  So, I think I said this with Paul too, a lot of times people will have Guests on their Podcasts and they’re like “Oh yeah! My good Buddy” and it’s like they met them one time at a conference.

The very first time, that I, I don’t know if I said this when I was on your Podcast or not.

But the very first time that I ever saw Aaron was his avatar – like the little picture on social media.

And we were in a Mash My Group, together and he had this red zip-up Hoodie on, with white strings and he’s got these, crazy, cool, wild eyes, I mean just like, piercing eyes and I turned to my computer screen to my husband and I said “He’s going to be my friend.”

Like I just sorted of decided, like I don’t know who you are, but you’re going to be my friend.

And that right there, told me, like what a genius you were, with branding and personal branding and we’ve mashed around it since then, he’s, I’ve been, I guess – consulted with me would be the right word?

I’ve coached Aaron.  

We’ve sat on my coach and watched drunk history together, like he’s had Bourbon with my husband, so when I say Aaron is somebody, I trust and love and really appreciate his perspective, that’s no exaggeration, so that’s my side but Aaron, tell my Bombshells, just like who are you, like as a person.

Aaron: You know as a person, I’m a Father, I’m a Husband, I enjoy travel.  

I enjoy Photography.

I mean one of my biggest passions is creating content and that doesn’t necessarily always equate to, you know, business in dollars, I just enjoy creating content.

I enjoy creating things and exploring the world, while doing it.

So, that’s probably one of the best ways to describe, you know, who I am as a person.

I literally fish out experiences and having new experiences, as much as humanly possible.  

I think it’s really important for my personal development, my personal growth and just the natural evolution of my creative being, to go out and experience new things, try new things and document my successes and failures along the way.

So, that’s probably in a nutshell how to best describe me.

Professionally, it’s a bit of a different story.

Amber: Okay.  So, I agree with this completely.  I love watching when you do a video or like you’re just walking through.

Maybe you’re travelling somewhere, to a, you know, for a contract or whatever, and then you just do a Video in that Town, it’s like, just really cool to watch, because it really doesn’t…

I mean, you’re selling yourself, but you’re also not selling yourself.

Like I can see just authenticity, even when you take pictures of your Children and post those.

Like, there’s just such an art to it, so, and I think that goes back Bombshells to like, when we talk about, if you go back to the episodes about your values and your culture and your own personal brand and who you are and how you bring that into your business, I think that, Aaron definitely, walks the talk on that.

Aaron: Yes, and thank you.

If you girls want to see some of the stuff, like you’re mentioning, like the Videos in different Towns, on my You-Tube channel, there’s one of the most popular Videos, is called ‘Oakland Design Travels’ and I fly over to Oakland to design a Logo for a colleague’s Company, but during that time , we go to San Francisco, we go to a bunch of Bars and I kind of like turn it into this little blog and like a Video blog and it’s a lot of fun and there’s you know, there’s a story to it.

And, it’s really neat and I’ve been inspired by other YouTube Creators, by other Content Creators and it’s just a medium of Content Creation that I really like experimenting with and playing with and it does tell a story and it does actually sell me, without me selling anything.  

I think it’s because a lot of times people get inspired by it or maybe they connect on it, resonate with my content in some other level, you know, they have their own experience with me and I don’t continue to do it because of that reason, I continue to do it because I really enjoy doing it.  

I’m kind of obsessed with Content Creation, if you could only see my Office right now, I’ve got three Cameras set up, I’ve got three lights, inside my Office and I’m shooting content all the time.

And, then I have another, kind of like a Gorilla Pod, with another Camera on top of it, that’s just prepared if I want to walk around or throw it in my bag, like I always have a Camera ready and charged, just in case there is an opportunity to create something new.

Amber: Yeah, you are quite the Junkie and that’s one of the million things, I love about you.

So, tell us about then, your business.

Like, because you do a lot of different things, but maybe touch on – so you know my audience, probably about as well as I do – but, my audience are, you know, they’re Female Entrepreneurs, they’re very type A strong, driven women.

They are likely in the Beauty or Wellness or Fitness Industry, but they’re some like – like, I’ve got to give a shout out to Renne, she’s an Interior Designer, and I’ve worked with other Interior Designers – but they’re more like Creative, but still like super powerful.

So, what type of work do you think, that they would understand – because you do so much.

Aaron: Yes, yes, no, I mean, I can tell you in, we and I know we haven’t – we haven’t talked recently in the last whatever, thirty/sixty days or something like that and a lot of things have changed and pivoted in my business as well.

I mean, traditionally, I own an Ad Agency for six years.

I sold that Company and then I started working as more of a Private Consultant, where we would do, like a lot of Web Development, Identity Designs, some Logo Designs, Business Systems, creating different types of Digital Assets for on-line entrepreneurs, off-line entrepreneurs – we weren’t really prejudice with who we worked with.

But, the majority of my work for the last ten years, has been delivering creative executables.

So, Web Development, Graphic Design work, Video Production, Audio Production, things of that nature.

In the last few months, we’ve kind of repositioned ourselves and I’ve repositioned myself specifically, more as like an Information Architect, where, and you may have had the term ‘U Ex’ before ‘User Experience’

Amber: Oh, Yes.

Aaron: I think nowadays, I’m more of an User Experience Designer, than anything.

We’ve been travelling all around the world, providing and in essentially facilitating a User Experience Framework. for our Clients’.  

So, if Client’s trying to launch a new Product, we take them through a framework. we’re not telling them what needs to be done but we have this very hard-core discovery session, with a framework that is – “Okay, here’s are process from A – Z” and what we do is we identify who the Users are, we identify the Brand Attributes for the Company itself, based on their goals.

We, identify, different priorities of how things need to be executed and what we would do is create essentially, user experiences, for different types of user experience.

How do we want this user to experience your Company?

So, from a branding standpoint, which is what my book is about.

Everything I talk about, business wise, is always predicated on Branding.

I talk about building a Brand.

And for you Guys, who – I mean, the word Brand is just kind of this like, bold word that can mean a lot of things.

Amber: It’s pretty loaded.

Aaron: Yes. But I’m going to try to simplify it for you Guys and your audience right now and essentially, in the past, people thought that what would happen is, is a Company would be formed, they would build be Brand, and then the Customer would buy.

That’s not true.

What happens is, a Company is formed, they create a Customer.

And that Customer then creates the Brand, essentially.

A Brand isn’t a Brand without any sort of equity in it and this could be social equity or anything like that.

So, Brand is really just a feeling that people get or a gut instinct that people get, when they have experiences with your Company.

And that could be – an experience could be – going to your website.

It could be. if someone calls on the phone, what kind of hold music is on it.  That’s an experience.

If you have somebody in your Office, what sort of Water do you serve them?  That’s an experience.

So, there’s a collection of experiences that happen, but first you have to have a Company and you have to have a Customer to identify what that experience is.

So, Branding, isn’t like, you can say – “Well, my Goal is to build a Brand that does this” – and that could be your goal, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what it is.

In this day and age, Consumers are the Jury and the Executioner.

They’re the one who pull the weight of everything that you do, in the palm of their hand, and you know, with Social Media and the things way are, Companies are getting vetted by Consumers or by their Customers, very quickly, based on the experiences that they have.

Either they’re unique and they provide, you know, a tremendous amount of value or they’re noisy and they’re just like everybody else, kind of regurgitating the same thing.

So, what we do, is we go in and we help companies identity who their User is and then how to align that Company, to create the best experience for that User.

And that’s done through a two-day facilitation process, that we call Brand Discovery.

And, it’s an eight hour session, where we bring in all the C Suite Executives and we take them through this frame work, through this process.

When we’re done, we provide them with their Discovery Doc, for whatever year, you know, this is the 2016 Brand Discovery Doc.

And, in there is some very high level information, that they can then use to deploy different campaigns or create different Websites or Apps or things like that.

So, I’ve gotten, gotten away from the actual execution of those things and I’ve gotten more into the high level strategy, of – “How do we create meaningful experiences for your Users or your Customers or your Audience?” –  call it. whatever you want.

So, that’s really where my main focus is and right now, I’ve actually been obsessing around Frameworks.

I’m using this word Framework and you know, I can send you a couple examples. of what I’m talking about.

But essentially I’m learning a tonne of different frameworks.

So, there’s frameworks for how to create the User Alignment.

There’s frameworks for Business Models in general.

There’s different types of, you know, so many different models, so how do we create a framework?

So, the majority of my work that I do, is actually on a whiteboard now, not as much on the computer and I have this floor to ceiling Whiteboard, in my Office, with Sticky Notes all over the place and Markers and everything and it’s honestly, I’m totally in my element when I’m doing this stuff, because I absolutely love connecting the dots and what I love even more is my Clients can say – “Damn Aaron, you were able to provide results. Like we can, physically measure, you know, and on the computer, we can measure the results from the discovery that we’ve done with you.”

And that’s been really rewarding for me.

Actually just did discovery with a client out in New Zealand and they’re like – “Wow, this was such a good process, would you be willing to do this with eight other Sub-Brands and Franchises, that we own?”

And I’m like – “Absolutely! Yes, I mean, hell yes! Where are they?”

And they happen to be in Australia and Tokyo, so really exciting stuff and that’s to me, that’s in alignment with what I want to do, the type of life-style business that I want to create.

I didn’t want to create a business, where I was a slave to my computer twelve hours a day, you know, like I used to have.

Where I was a slave to my emails.

Now if an email comes in, it is a very important email.  

I know that it’s important, so I attack it quickly, where as before, I had hundreds of emails coming in saying – “Hey! can you move this button over here? Can you change this image over there? Can you do this and that?” – and I said – “You know what?  This sucks!  I want to be out travelling, I want to see the world.  I want to have a Camera in my hand.  I want to be working with amazing companies, helping to create more meaningful experiences” – and I just made that shift and that’s now what I’m doing.

So, since, you know, I don’t know if we talked before I went to London, but we’ve done this in London, we’ve done it in New York, Seattle, I was just in Portland, Chicago.

I mean we travel, and this is, my team and I travel, all around the world now doing this, so it’s very exciting and if I wouldn’t have decided to make this switch, this life-style change in my own business, I might probably still be sitting in front of the Computer, with Photo Shop and Illustrator open, pushing pixels.

And that’s not as rewarding for me.

Amber: For you?

Aaron: As, yes, as seeing like my clients’ get results from the sessions that we do, the strategic sessions that we do, so it’s been a really awesome change and I’m stoked to see where it’s goes in the next few years.

Amber: Well, it is interesting to – well first of all, I’m going to just, – I’m going to totally do the “I told you so!”

Because ever since I’ve known Aaron, which has probably been about three, three plus years, what have I always told you?

You’re the Guy.  Like you are the Guy.  Like you’re the Guy that has the answers, that sees the vision, you are the Guy that people should know, that they go to.

And I don’t, I think you might have it, I think have even gave it to somebody else, but you’ve designed like one thing for me, I think because I was in a Pitch. I was like “I need this pressure, I need a mate.”

But I’ve never gone to you for Design Work, simply because you are so much more than that in my mind, that like, I would never, and I’m not belittling any Graphic Designer, I’m not saying that, it’s just that, you are – there’s doers and there are thinkers.  And you’re awesome at doing but you’re genuine, God given gift, is the thinking and the strategy and that side of things, which is why we’ve always had conservations, big picture around, Branding and Directions and things like that and I’ve never been like “hey can you make my Podcast graphic part [00:16:06.09] and stuff”.

So, but that being said, I know because, I know what you’ve been doing, we haven’t really talked – now that you say that – we’ve seriously haven’t.

Aaron: Yes, it’s been a couple months.

Amber: Like even text message, but anyways.

I’m a bad friend – Gosh!

Aaron: You’re busy, it’s good.

Amber: Well, you’re busy too.

Aaron: You’ve got a community, a thriving community, that is awaiting your content and I had to actually, I had to stop my season because I was like – “Okay” – the Podcast for me is a way to give back, it’s a way to share with people who can’t afford ten thousand dollar engagements of mine, you know, sol if they can’t afford that it’s like – “Well check out by Podcast” – I’ve got so much free information, and free resources and mini courses, all sort of cool stuff that they can get, but I’m like, but also that does take me away from my primary objective, which is growing our Agency and our Consulting Firm.

So, like, I ended up having to cut Season One and now we’re starting Seasons Two, depending on when this publishes.

My first episode is the first Day of November; I believe it’s Tuesday

Amber: So, it will be out, but I think you are, you’re in the second or third week of November, we’re recording this like in October towards the end, so yes, it will be ready.

Aaron: Yes, and it’s crazy too, because I still get tonnes of emails from people sending screenshots, because I ask people in the Podcast – “Hey! send me a screenshot, if you’re listening to the Podcast, or tweet me, or whatever.”

And I get people all the time still, and they, the audience and the listeners are the ones who’ve actually motivated me to continue doing it, because – if it weren’t for them – I probably would have stopped.

You know, while, it’s a lot of work, it takes a lot of time, especially if you’re really providing value.

Like I could get on a Microphone and just talk a bunch of nonsense for an hour easily, but if you really try to put some substance behind your content and get, have people, walk away with a tonne of value, it takes a decent amount of time.

And it’s not just me, like I actually pay somebody else to help me with my Podcast.

Because I’m just too busy.

Amber: You don’t know have the time.

Aaron: Yes, I don’t have the time.

Amber: Well and that’s funny, because I text messaged Aaron before we even go on and I said it’s going to be audio only, because my bandwidth just can’t handle video.

And I would love to see him and see his face and talk face to face and just record it, but..

So, then I sat down and I don’t have like, the perfect Podcasting set up.

Like I have a little ear thingy and I’ve got like a Mic, but it’s not even like the right Mic for the ear thingy and the fact that I’m calling them thingies alone, should tell you, just how this is not even like – this is not like what I do!

And I thought, you know what?  First of all, Aaron wouldn’t care, you’ve been in my Office.

Second of all, I’m not a Podcaster, I am a Coach and a Speaker who Podcasts.

So, like there’s a difference and I think that’s important for people to differentiate, but anyways, we could talk about this stuff all day long, I want to make sure that these fempreneurs who are listening right now, can walk away with some real tangibles.

So, I wanted to lay down the foundation of just how epic Aaron is, so you can take, you know I wouldn’t bring anybody on this show that just wasn’t amazing and who I didn’t personally trust, and I have a lot of issues around people who call themselves Experts, and really don’t have anything to back it up.

Aaron’s just proven himself, so now, now, please take notes, take everything that’s he’s saying and apply it to your own Brand.

So, let’s just begin with…

From your amazing amounts of experience and I know you’re working with bigger Clients, like, much, much bigger Clients now.

When you have worked with small business before.  

What are the biggest mistakes you see them making in Branding?

Aaron: Yes, and this is a really good question and I think this even applies to bigger brands.  

So, a lot of the same fundamentals.

I think they’re just universal truths and universal fundamentals, when it comes to building a Brand and building a Brand, really is all about creating a strong, positive, emotional connection with whoever your Customer is or your Audience, okay?  

We’ll just them Customers, because I could say Customer, Audience, Avatar – whatever.

So, the goal is always to create a strong, emotional, connection – a positive one.

Now Branding also could be negative.

So, Branding isn’t – like the term itself isn’t good or bad – it just is, what it is, right?

So, people label it good, people label it bad.

Some people hate the old Navy Adds.

But they, but they have this feeling that’s reoccurring around it, so the question is, is – “How do we create really strong, positive, emotional connections, with our Customers?”

Because if you do that, Customers become Ambassadors, they become Advocates, there’s affinity around your Brand.  

There’s an attraction.  

And ultimately what you’re really trying to do is build trust.

You know, so to build trust, there has to be some consistency, in whatever that experiences that customers having with your Company.

So, the biggest mistake that I see people making is they make these things, for themselves.

What I mean by these things, is their business.

They make a Business, that’s very centred around their wants, their needs, their desires, what they think and what they assume will take off really well, in the Customer Market Place.

The biggest conception or misconception is that the way to overcome that is to really sit down and get hyper-intentional on who is your Avatar?

Who is your actual user Profile and I actually have an exercise Amber, if you want me to go into that, on how you can do this through a framework – okay?

I’m going to take a piece of my framework, I’m going to share it with you verbally and if you want Amber, I can send you a kind of a little Graphic or something that you can put on this page.

Because, this should, ideally, I want your audience to take this exercise and really apply it, because, what you will discover through this process, is the best type of content that you could give to your potential customers.

The best ways to reach them.  

What their pains and gains are.

What solutions you can provide.

So, again, everything is about the Customer – it’s not about you.

If you, you have Customers or if you have people that aren’t purchasing your Product, you don’t have a Business, you have a Hobby.

So, what I try to do, I try to help this solopreneur and the entrepreneur, at least on my Podcast as well, turn whatever this passion is, into an actual business and to do that you have to do some of these high level things.  

So, I’ll give you an example here.

Amber: Can I put a time-out on that real quick, because I know what my loyal listeners have heard me say – “You have to understand you, in order to have the kind of business that you want?   You have to understand how, what your values are”-  and I’ve talked a lot about understanding yourself, so that you can have a business that you’re happy about.

But I want to say, there’s a huge difference between understanding what you need to be – a joyful and fulfilled Business Owner, where your passions and your everything is living in through you and through your business – that is how you do business.  

That is how you operate behind the scenes of your business.

What Aaron’s talking about, is how you share that Business, with your Customers and their experience, which is completely different and it needs to be all about them and nothing, really, it shouldn’t be “Well, I like this colour, so I’m going to use this colour”, but nobody cares about that colour in your customer base.  

So, I just want to make that distinction because I have hit it so hard – that like it should be about you – that’s for how you’re structuring your business, not how you’re selling your business.  

So, sorry to interrupt.

Aaron: No, and you’re fine and I would say also just to dove-tail off that, in the hierarchy of, of a process of setting up a Company or starting to build your own business, what you mention is Step One.

Is getting clarity on what you want.

What type of business that you want to have and what type of life you’re going to have, once you create this Business?  

So, this step here and this process which I am going to go over, is a process that is, it doesn’t have to be your customer right now – so if you’re doing business currently – you don’t have to profile your Customer right now.

You can profile the type of Customer you want in the future, based on, of, the type of life-style business that you’re trying to create or business or the time that you have to invest into it.

The idea is that you can choose, you can do business with anybody that you want, if you understand their behaviour.  Right?

And you understand their needs and their wants and what they struggle with.

You can help connect those dots.

So, I yes, I agree completely and that’s one of the biggest things – it’s the first part of my training Amber, is getting clarity and how do we get clarity and you know, it’s critical – absolutely.

So, when it comes to User Profiling, I break this down into – the first thing I do is, – I have kind of a six-quadrant grid, which I will put on your – send you a graphic of.

The first section is about the User.

So, this is general demographic.

Are they male, female, age?

So, when I do this, I actually give each profile a name.

Give, like, this is a real person, so their age isn’t from twenty-five to thirty-five.

Their age is twenty-seven, right?

They have a name, you know, we’ve got Amber Hurdle and you know, whatever other is general demographic goes into the About The User, section.

So, do they have kids, are they in a relationship, what’s their income status?

That’s just general information – okay – this isn’t the good stuff.

The next section is Work and Education.

So, what have they done in the past?

What is their background?

What are they doing currently?

What is their education like?

Okay – fairly simple and straightforward.

Next area is Interests and Activities.

And from there we look at – “Well are they health nuts? Do they enjoy running?” – you know, -“What type of, you know, interest in activities all around?”.

So, I’m actually looking at one of our Profiles right now, so I’m trying not to name of everything that these Guys have.

But they you know, this is Hockey, they’re interested in Boxing, you know, they have extreme aerobics, fashionable sports, they love and hate cross-fit at the same time.

They’re an influencer, they go to Boot Camps and things like that.

The next section is Lifestyle and Personality.

So, they’re healthy, they eat for purpose, their Utilitarian, they have this work-life balance idea, they’re engaged.

So, I’m just giving you some examples of what you can put into these Categories.

The next two, I think are the most important ones and these are the ones, that, although they’re equally important to everything, but they’re the ones that you can use to leverage to gain more insight into your customer and come up with ideas, to create more meaningful experiences.