Season 4 Episode 25: Anatomy Of A Brand With Paperlime Owner Katie Dooley

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Hello, my precious blueberries. Thank you so much for joining me today. I am super happy that you’re here because this topic is a topic that needs no introduction by by someone who also needs no introduction. But for, you know, proprieties sake, I guess I would tell everyone that I am here with Katie Dooley of Paper Lime. Katie is the founder of People I’m Creative, a branding and design agency in Edmonton, Alberta Kiddie’s.

Made her a choice for businesses looking to amplify their branding. I am so thankful for to talk about how to get our branding shit together.

So thank you for being here.

Thank you for having me, Paul.

So let’s talk about your background first before we got started before we get into branding. So tell me, how did you start people and where did this come about?

I mean, if we go in the Wayback Machine, I started graphic designing even before I knew it was graphic design. I tell a lot of people I designed my first trifold brochure at age 11 for social studies class. That is. Did you get a name like. I guess probably. So, yeah, all through school, I loved making things look good, love making information look good. And then I realized this is a job you can get paid for.

So I went to university, got my design diploma. I worked honestly some pretty shitty jobs, and I knew we weren’t serving the customers the way they deserved to be served. So I started people. I’m creative about five years ago and I’ve been doing it ever since.

Tell me the shittiest job.

The honestly, the jobs themselves are about, as always, the bosses. Yes, I ever had was that a vehicle Arab company I was doing the designs for.

OK, I understand mine, for the record, was selling vacuum cleaners door to door. That was awful. Oh, yeah. Yeah. It was like one of those cutco things, you know, where they just pull in dumb college kids who were like, I can make millions and everyone’s just on cocaine and trying to sell vacuum cleaners and stuff. So it’s like Shillitoe. So we started Piperlime. We send you the Royalle. Piperlime starts taking off and you start seeing that branding is becoming one of the biggest things in your business that you’re helping customer with.

Is that right?

Yes, and. I think the biggest place I can make a difference, like I love the graphic design, I’ll make you a poster, but where we really see a big return on investment, big gains is in the branding.

So let’s talk about I want to come at this from two different ways. So first, I want to talk about if you’re starting from scratch and you want to look into developing a brand for you, but also after that, talk to me about what happens in a rebrand strategy when you’re just like this isn’t working, I need something else. But let’s start with the joyful, hopeful, hopeful optimism of a new company. I got this new thing. I’m going to get started.

How the hell do I start thinking about branding?

I think the especially when you’re a new company, people get caught up in that your brand is something for you.

And this is always like a hate like breaking the news to people, but like, your brand is not actually for you. And so people get caught up in what colors and fonts they like and how they’re going to represent themselves. And unless you’re, you know, Kim Kardashian selling Kim Kardashian doesn’t matter what like you need to focus on what your customer likes and the people you want to work with each other can be different things. But if you develop your branding with the people you love to work with in mind, you’re going to get more of those people you’ll love to work with.

So for a new person. Like you said, sorry, but. Take yourself out of the equation. Go get a tattoo of something you like if you need to think about your brand from a customer’s perspective. That’s my biggest piece of advice.

So what of the people want to brand under their own name? How do you do that then?

I that’s a that’s some self discovery, too. Honestly, I used to brand under my own name, I used to be Katie Duli designs and I switched because they want to grow a team, grow my team. I you know, I call my I have a boutique agency. So to be Katie doolally design sounds like I’m a one person show.

And I know especially where I am, a lot of photographers are first and last name photography, and that’s fine because they’re one person operation. So some of it is, you know, projecting to the business you want to build. And if you know, you want a team, you know you want to spread out, if this is not going to be all about you, then I would come up with a name, especially if you want to transition from working in the business to on the business.

You know, if you’re a tradesperson and you’re on the tools and you want to get off the tools and just run the show, it shouldn’t be. John Smith electrical.

It makes sense when you’re thinking about a grand strategy, are we talking about the name two or are you talking about like the Browns, the deck?

We predominantly do the Brandon stuff, I’ll advise on names, but I am not a Namik specialist.

So when you’re thinking about your customer in mind, how do you help? What are your suggestions for entrepreneurs to start thinking about that when they don’t have a customer base yet?

That’s a tough question because I think some of it is who write who you want to work with. I always say, like if you picked up the phone. Who would you like, lose your mind was on the other side. Well, you know. I don’t know. I’m trying to think of all of a sudden I can’t think of any famous person, if Leonardo DiCaprio called you and you were like, oh my God, I can’t believe he wants to get a massage from me, then that’s a great place to start as well.

You know what? He’s an environmental guy. He has a lot of money. That can be a great place to start. You know, maybe if you’re not in L.A., that’s a little too much because you’re thinking about types of people you like to work with. Right. Do they care about like if they land or do they care about the planet? Do they like to give back or are they just like the workaholics that want in and out service?

You can start to you know, who can you really help and who would you enjoy helping? Maybe you don’t want to help the workaholics because they’re just so get it done. But I also find workaholics like to pay to have it done and so they don’t care what it costs.

So it’s. One of the things that you also it is message, and I think that messaging is just stupid important right now, especially with brands getting called out or, you know, rainbow washing or Black Lives Matter. But donating to Titian’s or maybe are not on the Black Lives Matter platform.

And so can we talk about how to get messaging and a brand strategy that comes off as authentic?

Yes, absolutely, I.

I talk about this in the way I frame it, I guess, is how do you need to show up for your ideal customer? Because we’re all multifaceted. People were multifaceted businesses. But the way a lawyer shows up in a work interview is going to be different than create a show up and work interview. Can I be professional and I mean hyper professional? Absolutely. Did I love that you said cluster fuck as soon as we got on this call?

Yes, it’s just me. I am a cluster fuck. You have to say it.

What a great word. And that’s part of branding. Right? And I say if someone swears in our in our first meeting, I know we’re going to be friends. But you might not get away with that if you’re your lawyer. Even if you swear in your day to day. So how do you show up for your clients? And we actually have people I’m creative, we do this fun exercise with adjectives and we narrow it down to five. So how do you what are those five things that need to be present at every interaction?

So let’s see if I can remember all five of our stars are bold, friendly, creative, laid back. And I can’t remember the last one. I have a list.

So what is that?

That’s how we need to show up every single time for for our customers. And so to have that framework for your for your social media, for your emails, for your marketing, for your telephone calls helps keep that consistency.

I love that I think that is so spot on. Let’s talk about once we get this messaging. How do we move from there? So I guess I’m talking about tactical, like how do you usually recommend once clients get this brand down, they have this deck, they’re ready to go. What that looks like, what happens once they get the baby bird gets out of the nest? What do you usually recommend for clients?

You know, acceding to every client, it’s really important to launch your brand properly and launching can look different for every client. I think people who really embrace their brands and embrace our ideal customer can come up with some really cool ways to market. One example I’m going to give is the client here in Edmonton. It’s a real estate brokerage. It did a brand for and their ideal client is our Yuki’s. Have you heard the term Yuki’s? They’re like the new hipster.

No, no, what is it for young, urban, creative, it’s like an evolved hipster. So they care about quality over quantity, so they’ll wait like three hours in line for ice cream. They care about jobs that they love as opposed to making the money. You know, they care about, you know, social, social justice stuff. And this brokerage started. They got a booth at a farmers market. Right, and so during covid, they would like your hand and sanitizer, give your dog a dog treat and like send you on your way.

And that was how they advertise. But that is exactly where their ideal customer is.

That’s brilliant. Like you think that’s so out of the box. But, yeah, like you said, just that’s where their customers start. So, you know, you say, what do you do next in some of these SEO? Based on who your ideal customer is, not what I would think of is where they are and I’d think of everything from, you know, we default to social media, but where are they? Foot traffic? What other businesses are they going to that maybe you could partner with?

You know what sort of you know, we all hate junk mail, but what what would be something that would if that came across their desk or in their mailbox that they would keep, what events are they going to? So you said Black Lives Matter and pride, you know, if that’s where your client is. And that’s. A value you share, you should be sponsoring those events and out at those events.

Along those lines, talking about authenticity with a brand, so. I just bringing this up, as I know that a lot of entrepreneurs are struggling in the we want to be supportive, we want to be these things that matter to clients.

And I don’t want a theme in tech. Have you run into this with clients that are afraid of like I want to say that I support Black Lives Matter, but I don’t want to come off as fake or like trying to lead or follow along.

I don’t have any specific examples off the top of my head, but my advice would be if that is something you’re passionate about and because you care about, is to not leave it for Black History Month or Pride Month to make sure you are showing up consistently. So if that’s. Ten percent of your profits are always going to a charity. Then when whatever comes around, let’s say Pride Pride Month, that it’s not enough, that you’re not Rambo washing your hair, we all we don’t need to we have the Pride Center of Edmonton here that you project your consistently giving and showing up.

And it’s not just a marketing thing right now, just like my little girl’s rainbow. Now everything’s lovely. I did it myself on the back of. Well, along these lines, so finding your people and finding your ideal client, who is going to recognize your authenticity, how do you start finding those out in the world?

Step one is getting super specific on who that is. A lot of people are scared. I see this all the time. I would say if you try to talk to everyone, you talk to no one. But people worry if they. Hone in, Hornish down, as we say, and can we say nation on its knees down.

It’s a good night for those Americans. A good one. No kidding.

That’s if you hone in, people get scared going, beating them down and targeting people.

I just alienated a whole group of people. When you people are scared, when you get super specific that you’re going to lose business. Well, a couple of things, there’s enough business to go around and chances are you don’t want anyway. You know, I think of your problem clients, we all have them, those people that you hate getting emails from that never pay you that yell at you like we’ve all had those those are those outliers that you’re getting rid of when you get super specific.

So that’s absolutely fine. And then you tailor your visuals and your messaging and your marketing. To those people. And the nice thing is that once you start getting some of those people and they start referring people like them to you.

Doing the work for you then, yeah, absolutely, if you can get people, your clients advocating for you. You know, we kind of all like the same people, right? Like I said, I like it when someone swears that’s a specific type of person who’s willing to swear in a business interview. So they often know people who are similar to them. So you can start cultivating a really great client base that way.

Yeah, agreed, and you’re seeing the swearing, but I had an accountant once who?

And we’re having some troubles with news about something, and I was through with him, the first thing he said to me was like, oh, they are so full of shit.

It’s like, I love you. I to be myself. I’m be capable of.

So tell it like it is. Exactly.

So now that you’ve got the people, you know what you want, you know who you want to talk to, you know what you want to say to kind of how do we start thinking about. Reaching out to them and piquing their curiosity and looking out of the box, because I think that everybody feels like they need to do the American to me like buckshot of just, you know, shoot everything on the wall. We’ll see what sticks. We’ll go with it.

And they waste so much time and energy trying to just like I’m going to post this sales piece on Instagram on Wednesday and on Thursday on the post this fun quote.

How do we stop thinking about marketing to these people in a way that is just everybody’s doing OK? How do we break out of that? Yeah, that’s that’s that’s the question, isn’t.

I. When you hear customers, then I would think about what they’re immediately going through and I hate to like get on the train, but it’s still so fresh in everyone’s mind that. You know, I was talking to a realtor who loves, like young families, like parents, couple of kids under 10 just bought their first home. Or they’re upgrading because now they’re starting to grow it during covid, you know, parents couldn’t find any learning resources because they were all sold out.

There was no work life, separation. Kids were bored and stuck at home and couldn’t be with their friends. So the realtor. And this might be more as a rail, might be more for existing clients because you’d have that relationship, but what if you found some of those books and send them to your clients, those, you know, grade seven math books or whatever? What if you put together a package of kids activities? What if you.

You know. Found some way to do like a meal box or a treat box, a movie night package. You know, this has nothing to do with selling a house and everything to do with building a relationship and then that. Person who got the movie basket post on social media. Oh, my goodness, my realtor. Look what she dropped off. What an amazing realtor and then her circle of probably young families who might be looking to buy a house or sell a house, see that and go about that same experience.

That’s so brilliant, just to become a resource to your clients, even if that’s something I always advocate, is you can’t think about the immediate sale. You have to think about the sale that’s going to come when they’re ready for you. And I think that being a resource like that is so smart.

And and we talk about pain point. I know you addressed this in one of your episodes. You know, the pain point that we specifically solve. And so a realtor might say, well, I help people buy or sell a house or find a house. We need to shift the focus onto just what is their pain point. Right. Right. Her get the the job aspect because we know how to solve that problem. Another realtor sorry, the realtor.

Now, the other realtors know how to solve that problem. But what are other realtors not doing that thinking that step further. Right, when I think of what keeps other entrepreneurs up at night. You know, it’s things like cash flow, so how can we get the more cash flow? They’re not thinking about, oh, maybe my logo sucks.

We’re going to fix mean probably. We’ll just call it what it is. Oh, oh, well, I mean, it’s like what what do you see new entrepreneurs messing up often when it comes to branding or marketing.

I think probably first and foremost, as you watch, is not enough. I think and I you know, I can be sympathetic cash flow, and there’s when you’re brand new, there’s often bigger fish to fry. You’re worried about getting your first clients. You know, what’s invoicing software? Do I need to incorporate? But yeah, definitely just not enough, so many just come in with maybe a lock on a business card and an OK website. And I, I just see a lot of gaps where, you know, like what are you leaving with your customers?

What are your resources look like? Social media, email, newsletters like there’s so much and no business will ever be done. But I think when you’re coming out of the gate, you need you know, you’re up against people who have been around for years, so.

Hit the ground running just once you say I’m starting this business, like be ready to start the business. So you’re saying, yeah, totally.

So as you said, sorry, I was going to say you’ll get in the cycle of, you know, you’re so focused on getting clients that you don’t do any marketing. And then when you’re done, those clients now you have no. New clients, because you don’t have a marketing strategy in place.

Yeah, completely, and I think that so many people of.

Don’t get the long term like they’ll think, like you said this, once I get this client, everything will be great and then they get the client and it’s probably fine, but it’s it’s a stepping stone. It’s not the whole path and. Now, thinking about the whole path, I think, is one of the things that sets a lot of people up for failure. Do you think so?

Absolutely. You have to build a runway. You know, there’s the immediate clients and projects. You can turn around, sell quickly and turn around quickly and make money fast. And then there’s bigger projects that take longer to convert and are harder to find. Because, you know, especially as you specialize, you know, if you’re an electrician and want to be doing high end new builds, that’s a pretty competitive space to get in. So you need to build that runway.

So that you are the first choice for these high end homebuilders, for example.

Thinking about, let’s say that you are in business for a while and you think this is not the way I expected or this is not.

I’m not connecting with the right people, and I’m thinking it’s time to reap what the symptoms do you think of business has that it is a branding issue? I think if you are frustrated with the process or the clients you’re getting. So when you hit that point where you’re like, oh, I didn’t charge enough for this or, you know, why, why is this customer not understanding the process or being demanding if there’s a disconnect where you’re not enjoying work every day?

I would say that’s a symptom.

That’s potentially a symptom of branding. I also tell businesses any time there’s a major change, so if you are consciously changing your demographic, if you’re changing locations, if you’re changing products or services, that’s a good time to rebrand as well. But you’re not going to get, you know, Michelin star clients with McDonald’s branding. So if you’re if you’re thinking in your head, your emotions are restaurant and you have McDonald’s branding, you’re going to be frustrated at work every day.

That is a perfect analogy that is so good with one that is going to be like this to me, the quote of this episode, I think that. Well, the situation deep think it’s what’s let’s say it’s not the Michelin McDonald’s, let’s say maybe it’s halfsies, it’s somewhere in the missinglettr where it’s not completely out of left field, but it’s something there’s a tweak or there’s a pivot that has to happen. Do you recommend that pounds? Pivot or do you think it’s more advantageous to do a complete tear down in a region that’s tough depending on your business?

I would definitely keep the same name. Just you know, even something is not simple, but SEO right, people know your you know, to Google you you have the rankings under your current URL. What a phone book, all that fun stuff, even your storefront, people drive by and go, Oh, I know that store, and then it changes names. They might think you’ve moved different ownership, gone out of business. So unless your name is incredibly detrimental, I try to keep that.

And then it’s kind of a case by case, sometimes friends just need to be modernized and we’ve seen that, you know, Pepsi did it, Girl Scouts did it. You can Google all of these brand evolutions. And then some of them do need a total total on it depends on how they started their business. And kind of back to new entrepreneur, so many just, you know, do something quick and dirty to get up and running. That it was never built properly in the first place, so that that situation, I would recommend to tear down and rebuild, but if it was and it’s just looking a little dated or refreshes sometimes all you need.

I agree, and I think that a lot of people will jump ship and be a little too close, and I think we’ll get into a mindset of. It’s not.

It’s not a customer or it’s not like my logo is the thing that will solve all my problems.

Do you know what I mean? So what do you think that.

We finish, OK? No, I’m just like that. I’m just thinking out loud.

I think we’re heading in the same direction, which is, I don’t know.

Yeah, so yeah. So you feel free to finish my thought.

I was going to say there’s so many other components to branding, yes, that isn’t just your logo. And people forget that customer service is part of your branding.

Let’s talk about the different aspects of a brand, then, what are the facets that people might not consider as part of a brand?

Customer service first, like you just said, and that is everything from pricing policies, how your employees speak to customers, how you dress. Yeah, that’s probably like is there anything else in there, customer service, customer service. That’s a big one that people don’t think about. I also include sound branding is a new area. But, you know, what songs do you play on your real’s? Hold music. If you have a brick and mortar, what music playing over the stereo and sound branning, I don’t I don’t know.

I don’t do any sound branding. I just know a little bit about it because sound is so linked to memory, it’s actually becoming like a really interesting area of branding. So do you play hard rock? Do you play top 40? You play classical music. And then, I mean, I say every impression you have with your customer, so we have visuals, messaging websites, social media. I, I get right down to the nitty gritty, like I what’s your onboarding process?

What kind of forms are you feeling now? What kind of invoice are you sending? That was kind of both under visuals and customer service, but. You know, it should all make sense, client gifting, promo products.

I think the idea of, you know, you touched on audio and the music you’re putting on reels are thing that is so I think a mind blowing just people aren’t thinking about what how does each song on my social media or like that hold me like a thing like that?

Like how does it all play into the picture and. I just blew my mind with the real thing because I didn’t I’ve never thought of that.

It’s it’s I mean, you know, this is about creating the same experience every time, so, I mean, I have downloaded a couple of, you know, royalty free songs off of Shutterstock, and they’re all kind of like punk pop because we’re old and laid back. And like you said, we don’t mind swearing. So but if I played classical music or country, people would be like, well, what is she doing? And then you get this disconnect of, you know, if I put someone I don’t have hold me.

I answer my phone. But, you know, if I was a type of life that had to hold music and you see one thing on social media and then classical music, when you’re on hold, people wonder if they called the right place. Right.

Just thinking about, like a hot topic or something. If this a topic having classical music, like, what is this? I don’t is this phrase like, you know, like, you know what you’re going to hear when you enter a hot topic, right?


So it’s our hot topics living.

We have them in Canada, but it took decades to come here. We just when I outgrew it, like 13 year old lady really would have loved a hot topic in 30 year. Katie didn’t have a hot topic.

Yeah, I remember when I came here or when it came to where I’m from and it was just like mind blowing. It’s so expensive. But I digress. This is the important thing. Let’s talk about how hot topic has changed. Certainly.

I mean, that is actually.

That’s true. That’s a good brand. Yes. A brand case study.

And you know, I there’s so interesting watching that, I mean, the other day about how is a picture of McDonald’s from like the 90s with the red roof and Ronald McDonald, that looks like gray and austere and like. Yeah, because McDonald’s grew up with their taco. They’re very much part and temporary now, and it’s for me now. It’s been a it’s an interesting strategy, but it’s and they’re so smart to do it, too. I completely rethink about these blogs and I think Instagram accounts of things like used to be a Pizza Hut of the stores, these standalone structures that used to be a Pizza Hut.

And they’re so iconic, you can tell. And these new brands coming in just trying to, like, make it work within the Pizza Hut walls. Yeah. So, Kitty, someone desperately needs branding and should they come to people?

And what is it that what of work do you want them to do a.

Whenever someone is starting or considering a big change in business, they should reevaluate their branding. Well, we have a really great process in that we don’t actually need a lot of homework done beforehand. If you have an idea who you like, Will, we’ll ask all the questions to draw what we need out of you. And I actually actually prefer people to not have something in mind when they come. Because we like you said, we have call these strategic questions and then we do a whole bunch of research, and if what we research and find out doesn’t match what your vision is, there will be a disconnect a bit.

So we worked it in a way that, you know, people people get so stressed out. And so it’s kind of cute. Like, I’m not ready, I’m not prepared. I’m like, it’s fine. We will we will get it’s our job to get what we need out of you.

And when you are working with them and a brand strategy, what should they expect to happen throughout the process?

I mean, it’s very comprehensive. So we start with a discovery session, it takes about an hour and a half, but we invite you to bring. Anyone you might want to have some feedback, so we’ve done brand discoveries that are up to two and a half hours long. And again, that you don’t need to be prepared for when we do a whole bunch of research and we let our clients actually see all that research, because I can research your industry forever and not know as much as someone who works in that industry.

And our research looks a little bit different for every client.

But Will, we’ll call an interview ideal customers. Obviously, we’ll do an online search. We’ll pull Census’s.

Well, you know, we have some strategic partners that can pull reports for us. We’ll meet with consultants in the industry, whatever it needs, whatever we need to, to get what we need for for the brands. And then the client actually gets to review it along with their brand position or where they fit in the market. Once they prove that we do, oh, sorry, go ahead.

Well, you know, once they prove their brand position, then we do all the creative and so messaging and visuals, whatever their unique package looks like, and then we give them up. Really beautiful. How to guide on how to use a little.

That was actually what I was going to ask you, how do they go from all of this research and all of these things to like, OK, now, now what the hell to do with it?

Totally. And that was one of the good things that came out of my real crap job, is I just I saw this huge gap in people would come wanting to put a big logo on their truck and it would be like a shitty jpeg. And they’d be like, that’s all I have. And I would be like, OK, well, now I have to charge you more to make your logo again. And I and I saw this over and over again.

So it was this huge gap that I was like, no one will leave people. I’m afraid of not having exactly what they need. You know what?

It’s it’s really not ever needing to come back with the hopes that they’ll come back.

It just felt so wrong that people would spend this money on a logo and not be able to use it later. Right. So we ran away with every single logo file they could ever want, which is like 20 plus files, depending on the brand. And then they get a 16 page brand framework. So that has their brand characteristics, both adjectives I was talking about earlier. We give a summary of who their ideal customers so they can refer back to it and explain to other people.

They get a brand story, they get all their fonts, colors. We actually get photography suggestions as well that fit in with the brand. So if they’re buying stock or working with a photographer, they can say, hey, this is kind of the look and feel. We need what the different file types mean, how to use Bob, because that’s a real thing. And then how not to don’t how to not wreck your logo. Don’t don’t smush your logo, your logo.

Be nice to your logo to actually repeal it. How to be nice to your logo like a little baby bird. And here’s what you don’t see.

The bird. Yeah.

So, Katy, more questions.

How can people get a hold of you or Piperlime?

Piperlime Dossie is the website. At Piperlime Creative on Facebook and Instagram, and if you want to connect with me directly, it’s Katie Katie at Piperlime Dossie.

Have we missed anything that you feel people should know before we go?

I know President Branagh’s I think Branagh’s a ton of fun and. It should be a fun process. Of all the things and things you have to work, you have to do it, your business branding should be a fun one. So if you’re not having fun with your branding, it’s time to reevaluate a new.

Perfect, perfect would end that. Thanks so much.

Awesome, thanks for having me. Megan.

Hey, guys, one more thing before you go, could you do me a favor and leave a review of this episode? It would help me out so much and get the word out to other people. If you could just drop a review, I would really appreciate it.

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