Katie is the founder of Paper Lime Creative, a branding, and design agency in Edmonton. Her love of design and art took shape and a young age and since then she has been soaking in as much knowledge about art, business, and design as she can. She takes the time to listen to people's unique stories and goals to deliver stand-out work. It's one of many reasons why Paper Lime Creative is known as a collaborative design agency.
What is branding and why is it important?
I define branding as every interaction people have with your business. So there's often a misconception that your logo is your brand, but it's actually a lot more than that. So it's our job at Paper Lime Creative to make sure that those touchpoints that your clients have with your business are impactful and meaningful and get you the right customers to serve.
How does a business owner start that branding process?
We recommend that business owners start that process by figuring out who they want to work with and who that ideal customer is and what that ideal customer is buying so you can put the right time and effort into marketing the right product or service that you have and marketing it to the right people because that's where you'll get the biggest returns on your branding.
How can branding help networking?
Branding can help your networking because it helps you know where to go. I have a great client story for this. I was working with a good friend of mine on really defining her ideal customer. We realized all of her customers were the same type of person, they all dress the same and I joked that I realized that they all have really well-kept beards. So now when she goes to a networking event, she can go and physically find those people. She knows what they look like and chances are they'll be in an industry that she can work with.
So really understanding your customers is important, right?
Absolutely because then she can know what networking events to go to or where to show up online for networking. Like you were talking about LinkedIn in your intro and then to know what people to introduce herself to in those events. It saves you so much time. Obviously building relationships and just growing your network is important, but if you're looking to convert someone to a client from a networking event, knowing who to walk up to and introduce yourself is really important.
Can you share the story behind the name of your business?
I say it's our fresh and fun approach to print design and branding. So my background started in print design and then it evolved into everything else because you can do quite a bit with print design, but you can help your client way more when you understand the brand strategy behind it.
Can you share one of your favorite networking stories or experiences that you've had?
I think my favorite networking experiences are when you realize how small it all is. The six degrees of separation, which I think they're saying is more like three or four. I had one actually where an old friend of mine that I hadn't seen or heard from in years had actually married someone that I was actively networking with. I found out after the fact, which and I was like, "I didn't realize you were married to her!" We worry so much about getting business or meeting people or having to be extroverted and put ourselves out there. But it's all about relationships at the end of the day and I think some of those fun coincidences make life so interesting.
How do you stay in front of and best nurture your network and your community?
On an ongoing basis, I track who I network with, and be sure to send follow-up emails or book follow-up coffee dates. I think it's just making a part of your regular schedule. I always have some sort of networking event or a one on one coffee booked with someone in my calendar. It's just a part of doing business and I can't imagine a week where there isn't something in there.
What advice would you offer your business professionals who are really looking to grow their network?
I would say try something new. I think we can get really comfortable with what our networking routine looks like and that's great, especially to build those long-term relationships. But to put yourself into a new market or into a new experience can be really valuable. Everyone moving to online meetings because of COVID has been super beneficial from a networking perspective because now you can visit a networking group wherever. I've been to networking groups in Europe while in Canada and it's really limitless now. So I think if you're wanting to grow just try something new. As for me, joining a charity board is something I've never done, but have thought about getting exposed to a new group of people.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
I probably would have told my 20-year-old self to network. I didn't start out working till I was 25 or 26. So definitely more of that and I would also tell me to stop doubting myself. I think once you get into your business, you realize that nobody really knows what they're doing. Everyone's learning and growing as they go, and no one's 100% ready for the next step.
You brought up the six degrees of separation. Who would be the one person that you would love to connect with and do you think you could do it within the sixth degree?
I have always wanted to meet Paula Scher from Pentagram. She is most well known for designing the Citibank logo and the Boston More Than a Feeling album cover. She's a phenomenal graphic designer, and I totally think I could. I don't know what those six degrees are, but I have emailed her assistant and even though I got a no, it was still a good step. I think my next step would be going through a line of other industry designers because I probably know a designer who knows her and could maybe try that angle.
You have an offer to share with our listeners, right?
I do! On the Paper Lime Creative website piperlime.ca, we have a free brand audit that you can download and it goes through all the different parts of your brand. So it's a great tool to use and we recommend doing it every two or three years. Brands are always growing and changing and it's never a one and done with your brand. So if you want to take a look and review your brand, check out that free download.
Do you have any final word or advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Be yourself and get curious about other people and it all falls into place after that.
Connect with Katie