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"What The Beatles Teach Creators About Personal Branding" — Flora Aliaga, Community Manager

Flora Aliaga (00:00): Hello, I'm Flora Aliaga. I'm a writer and I'm also a community manager. And this is my love letter to The Beatles.

Sam Thorogood (00:09): Your brand plus an emotional connection with your audience equals success. This podcast explores that middle part. I'm Sam, a brand designer and your host. In each episode, I invite a guest to pick their favourite brand and unpack why it means so much. As they share, we learn what makes audiences tick. Not with strategy or theory, but through that undeniable proof of successful branding: emotion.

Flora Aliaga (01:04): Well, it's weird that a non-native English speaker, person born in 1984, is the one hosting this love letter to The Beatles. I met the Beatles when I was around five years old. I remember that my father was the one that finally brought home a CD player and he bought three records. I remember that. There was one of Michael Bolton. I've never heard about him again. There was another one from Queen, a fantastic band also. And then he bought Let It Be. And I'm not exaggerating here. I'm not lying. It completely changed my life. That disc, like, showed me another world. I wasn't even reading at that time, because I was only five years old. But every time I recall that front page, I don't know how to name the front page of a record. Every time I recall that image of the four Beatles. It meant so much to me that it was like a new open door. And at that time, I think it was really difficult to... Not to find music, but to have access to, there was no Spotify around. And I remember that since then, all my efforts, every time I went to somebody's house, a parent's house, a relative's house, a friend's house, my only intention was to check the discs, the records they have available. And at that time, the CD players came, not that Let It Be, but some of them came like with a book, with the lyrics of the artists, the other records. And after Let It Be, the one I had access to was, I had an aunt that had what we call or what some people call the Blue and Red Album. It was like a record released in the 90s that had like the most important songs of the early stage of The Beatles. And then the blue one had the... Like the latest records. And it was a double disc. And like, discovering that was what I needed to keep on feeding this, well, I won't call it a sickness at all, but this fever, let's say, of, well, hearing more about them. Internet, of course, at that time, was not... It was a project, but nobody had access to Internet. So every time I was, since I was young, I liked reading and my parents bought the newspaper and every time I could see a picture of them. It was not only about music. It was about art, about fashion, about... I am naturally like, a rebel. So it was about bravery and about music. So I had a lot of fun. And about saying what you believe and about these fantastic ideas, at least some of them, showed in a certain period of their career but...

(05:04): Well, that was my first contact with them until I could buy my first record. I remember I went to a shop here... I didn't say that and this is for me the most interesting thing. I live in Argentina and we speak Spanish here and I must also like make clear that my country was even... The only modern war we had was against England before I was born, in 1982, and not even that hurt the love that this band caused in Argentina, it was like a complete great success at the time, as it was in all parts of the world. But especially in Argentina, The Beatles make such a great impact. I needed to mention this about the war to show you how many boundaries, how many limits they crossed with the music. They spoke in a universal language. And at that time, when The Beatles' records were released, all records, the titles, the name of the songs were all translated. There are like two names for their records and for their songs. You have the Spanish version and the English version. Not when the CDs were released, but all the LPs, like the huge discs, were all translated. And the translations were not so accurate. But you still have a generation of people that, well, they name the records the way they were taught to. But that was, well, that is something like fun to share with, because sometimes when you hear a song of them in Spanish, you need to think twice what song they're talking to. But when I bought the Sgt. Pepper record, that was like one of the best moments of my life. I remember that. And I remember going to the shop with my father. I don't remember how I got the money, but it was like officially the first record I was buying. And that CD had a huge book with it, with the songs, with many of the pictures. I still have those records at home, I have all the Beatles records at home. But I kind of miss that feeling, although I love Spotify and the benefits it offers to us. I kind of miss that sensation of going to the disc shop and, well, researching. You had, in the biggest companies, you had the opportunity to hear like, the most, well, updated records or the novelties in the rock scene. And it was a fantastic two or three hours you had on Saturdays, hearing to music and well deciding in which record you were going to spend your money.

Sam Thorogood (08:42): So it sounds to me as you're speaking that this is almost, it's about more than just the music. It's about the fashion. It's about the imagery. It's about those, those booklets as you would kind of leaf through the different pages and see this whole different world. Can you talk to me a little bit about what emotions all of that evoked for you and maybe still evokes for you when you kind of enter into this world of The Beatles?

Flora Aliaga (09:07): As you said, it's all about emotions. That is what music does. It's a universal language. It was weird because somehow I, while I was hearing the new (for me) music of the Beatles, I always had the feeling that I've known this music from before. They were, they had the sensibility like to read what was happening in the world that it was not about following instructions, but about creating, like a more authentic search and about being more honest. At least that I think that was what they were different in and that is one of the reasons that made made them so special. They had Brian Epstein that really understood how this business could be changed. And he waited for the opportunity or the promise that these four guys... Like he could see the opportunity that these four guys... What they would or they promised that they would change the world of music and he saw that chance. And well, the audience was ready. For them to appear. And they're... How do you say in English, like something that's still is, still updated there. Help me with this.

Sam Thorogood (11:01): Their longevity, I guess, or...

Flora Aliaga (11:03): Exactly, exactly.

Sam Thorogood (11:05): And what do you think modern day creators can can maybe learn from The Beatles?

Flora Aliaga (11:12): I think that what we value the most is honesty. Like, even your own voice. I think that even in their first period, they were clever enough to follow their heart, let's say, to follow their intuitions. That's, that is what made them original. That is what made them different and that personal search was taken like further. Uh, when they made like inside the wheels when they were still a band when they took this search to their personal, um, like searches. Maybe that is one of the reasons why they split up, but they were loyal to themselves. George with his with his, uh, Eastern, um, like rhythms. Uh, he went into the religion, the mystic of the East. Uh, well, he was, um, he followed like this intuition he had. Well, John did his part, maybe, feeding their songs with the social, like, social guerrilla, let's say, trying to focus his attention, his lyrics on, well, on peace, on talking to the social movement, talking to peacemakers. Then we have Paul that, he was, uh, I... If you haven't seen it, I really recommend, the Get Back documentary. There you can see how he was the clear leader of the team. Uh, but he was, at least according to this new point of view that Get Back shows us, and we could have an entire new podcast, on Get Back, uh, because it is like a complete discovery. And, it gives a whole new perspective to, uh, what the world thought was the reason of their separation. Uh, but well, there you could see him as a great leader, but he was, uh, like, wise enough, like to hear his own voice, to present his own songs, but also giving a place to these three fantastic and really rich personalities he had next to him. Uh, and then, well, we have Ringo with his fantastic personality. Everybody loves Ringo and the four of them were, uh, well, they complement each other and, well, I think that that is a great, advice for a band. Like, uh, you don't have to play music with somebody, um, with your same ideas. Maybe it's easier, uh, but it's great to be brave enough, like to open the discussion. And, uh, there was no, there was never, like, although we could see through, uh, the Get Back documentary that, Paul McCartney was the one that, uh, carried like, the authority, let's say, in the band, there was no more important member. In fact, you can ask, uh, there is like a famous question for Beatles fans, which is your favourite Beatle, because really, um, they can all, the four of them can be your favourite. But that is something that not many bands, uh, has.

Sam Thorogood (15:26): Just a quick one to ask you for a small favour that you can do right now. If you haven't already subscribed to this podcast, I invite you to hit subscribe or follow, whatever it looks like on your podcast player. And that just means that you'll see new episodes of Branding Love Letters as they come out. If you have already subscribed to this podcast, here's what you can do right now: I invite you to leave a rating, a star rating, or leave a review, a short review, and that just makes a huge difference to what I can do with this podcast: the stories that I can tell and the insights that we can gain into emotional connections to branding. Thank you very much. Back to the interview.

(16:16): Have there been any times over your, kind of journey with the Beatles that it's been harder to love them or has this always been very much very much a loving relationship towards this band, but also towards this brand as a whole?

Flora Aliaga (16:30): Yes, maybe because I was not contemporary to them. It was, it has always been a fantastic love story and I have never had issues or it has never been difficult to love the brand. But maybe, I guess that for contemporary fans, maybe at some times it was, it must have not been easy. They were, when they came to America, they were accused of many things. Some of their records were burned. They were, in all the interviews they had, they were clever, they were fast, they were sometimes, they sounded rude. There was like this famous quote from John Lennon saying that they were more well-known than Jesus and at that time it was a great scandal saying that, like allowing yourself to say what you believe. They, especially John Lennon, then with Yoko, he took like patience of the more traditional people really far when he posed naked in many pictures. But that is something that I couldn't see. And I, something that, well, I, I could see all of those initiatives and that, those performances, like with another head. So for me, it was always a love story with them.

Sam Thorogood (18:11): And how would you summarise that love story? If you were going to put it into just a few words, kind of thinking way back to your childhood, you know, growing up, being introduced to this music, this kind of strange new world. And then over the years, how would you sort of summarise that, that journey?

Flora Aliaga (18:28): Well, it started... Yeah. When I was really young as I was saying but then it's like a story that never ends and that always has new news, always has good news because it's not only about the records but it is also about the records they had in their solo careers. After school I decided to study journalism and to end my studies I needed to work on a final thesis and, well, I wanted to get my degree on social communication and I said, well, I can suffer a topic or I can love a topic. That's why I decided to study The Beatles through a like a social perspective as regards the consequences let's say that their music had in the world and it was a fantastic thesis. I got an A but apart from the what they said at the university I loved the process of studying them as a social phenomenon in my country and in the world to see like the huge heritage and the huge, the huge influence that they had at that time and that they still have nowadays but well when I, the first time I went to Europe I, well, I wanted to go to a Paul McCartney concert and I had this excuse to organise a trip. I have seen Ringo once. He visited my city, Córdoba in Argentina, and I have been to five Paul McCartney concerts... Then it's a fever that doesn't stop that it increases with your age you have always like new things to investigate or to see things in a different perspective when you get bored of their music, well you can go... I never get bored of their music, but if you maybe want to rest a little bit, you can like hear the solo work of one of the four and if you ask me a phrase to talk about my journey with them I would say it is a hobby. It is a... I believe it is a hobby for me that grows with you because you always have a song maybe that speaks to you louder in a certain period of your time and that is why I'm changing of favourite song every now and then because depending on my age or or what is bothering me in my life I'm going to change my song every now and then because I'm going to say my favourite song, I keep changing my song every time I play it I keep changing my song. The song changes, my favourite song changes.

Sam Thorogood (21:37): Flora, tell me a little bit more about you and where people can connect in with what you're what you're doing.

Flora Aliaga (21:43): I work at a fantastic freelancers platform called Work For Impact. I'm a community manager there so if you want to connect, uh, it's just another way of saying we can, you can find me there. It's a fantastic community from people all over the world. Some of us are experienced freelancers, but most of us are also independent contractors that want to get into this wave of remote work. So if you have experience, it's a great place to be. And if you're new at it, come anyway. We can learn together the best tips to improve your journey in the independent contracting work scene. I'm also a writer. I write novels. There is only one now. It's available at Amazon. It's called... It's not translated yet. It's called La Mujer Que No Conocía El Mar. It means The Woman That Didn't Know The Sea. And I'm a... I'm about to launch my second novel in Amazon, too, in May, approximately, yes. But, well, I'm also an independent contractor. I'm a writer, and I work for several companies in English, in Spanish, and about all things.

Sam Thorogood (23:18): Fantastic. Well, thank you very much, Flora, for all you're doing. And I'm a part of that community that you mentioned, Work For Impact. Just to give the name one more time. And it's a really, really, really great community, a great resource for independent contractors and freelancers. So I would recommend that. Finally, I would love to hear your love letter that you have written to The Beatles.

Flora Aliaga (23:39): Dear The Beatles, I just wanted to say from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Your music has been a constant companion through every chapter of my life, somehow always speaking to me in just the right way, no matter where I am on my journey. Your songs have sparked my creativity, showing me that there are no limits to where my imagination can go. And somehow you have always been there, like old friends, making me feel connected to something bigger, something beautiful, and something so generous that there are always new meanings through your music to my life. One of the most special gifts your music has given to me is the bond it created between my dad and me. Our shared love for your tunes brought us closer, creating countless memories along the way. My favourite one is when we both attended a Paul McCartney concert, and we cried the whole concert. We were only two metres from him. It was amazing. And as I have grown, your music has grown with me, offering new meanings, and messages at every turn. It's helped me build my own little world and strengthen the relationship I have with myself, guiding me through the ups and downs of life. So thank you for being more than just a band to me. Thank you for the inspiration, the comfort, and for making me feel like I belong to the incredible Beatles family. Your music has truly made a difference in my life. With all my loving, Flora.

Sam Thorogood (25:25): Well Flora, thank you very much for letting us hear your branding love letter.

Flora Aliaga (25:30): Thank you.

Sam Thorogood (25:32): Thanks for listening to Branding Love Letters with me, Sam Thorogood. I'm a brand designer for startups, creators, charities, eco projects and church plants. I'm on a mission: equip these pioneering brands to bring others onto their journeys. If you're interested, you can discover more at Oh, and big thank you to Thomas Thorogood for the music. Take it away, Tommy Boy.

Sam Thorogood | Pilgrimage Design