Interview with Katie Dooley, Founder of Paper Lime Creative, Canada

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Katie Dooley

Katie is the founder of Paper Lime Creative, where her branding process begins with a discovery process that progresses to a great brand package and brand framework.

Interview with the 2021 MUSE Creative Awards Winner - Katie Dooley

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your creative background.

I’m the founder of Paper Lime Creative, a branding, design, and public relations agency. My love of design and art took shape at a young age, and since then, she’s been soaking in as much knowledge about art, media, business, and design as she can. Well established in the branding & design space, I hit the ground running in 2020 by adding public relations to my already highly valued skill set. Paper Lime Creative is known as a truly collaborative agency with an ability to serve clients internationally. Uniting the key elements of messaging, visuals, and media connections, Katie and her team create a strong foundation of success for clients to skyrocket from. A true lover of travel and all things Irish, Katie is married to her husband, Bryant and they live in Edmonton, Canada with their adorable and tiny dog, Paige.

I love making deep connections and lasting friendships. I enjoy taking the time to listen to people’s unique stories and goals to deliver unique, quality brands.

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a creative?

I was lucky because I was a creative kid. Looking back it’s obvious that graphic design was a calling from a young age—I just didn’t know what it was yet. I designed my first trifold brochure at 11-years old, before home printers were even that common, let alone having the internet readily available. It was a very natural progression from high school to university and getting my graphic design diploma.

3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.

Paper Lime Creative is a branding, design, and public relations agency located in Canada but servicing clients across North America.

We’re passionate about giving business owners the confidence they need to show their business off to the world, while simultaneously connecting them with their ideal customer. We lower the cost of acquisition for those dream clients and help build customer loyalty quickly with targeted visuals, messaging, and strategy.

4What does “creativity” mean to you?

This is a big question! Creativity is the ability to look at a problem from many different angles. While most problems have many solutions, it’s our job to find the best solution. The best solution is rarely the most obvious—creativity is the mental gymnastics to think of out-of-the-box solutions. I think it’s important as a designer to take those solutions, make sure they fit in with the client's goals and strategy, and then we streamline them for the most simplified and elegant answer.

5To you, what makes a “creative” idea and/or design?

Stanley Kubrick said, “everything’s already been done”. I’m not sure if I agree with that entirely because I still see some phenomenal art that catches me off guard, but I don’t think uniqueness or originality is necessary for a phenomenal creative idea.

I think the most creative ideas, especially in the world of corporate identity, are when we take elements imbued with meaning to create an icon or graphic that resonates with the business and the people they serve.

6Tell us about your creative and/or design process.

The creative process at Paper Lime Creative is quite structured. We’ve honed it for almost 5 years now and while it’s a living process, we get consistent results with it. We start the branding process with a discovery session. This is a fun interview with our clients figuring out, in their own words, what makes them unique to their industry and who they love to work with.

Then we start doing a lot of research! This looks a bit different for every client, depending on their needs and industry. Sometimes we interview other industry leaders or survey their target market directly. We’ll chat with other experts and consultants, and find articles on the internet.

We compile all this together (and condense it) for the client to review and approve. I always tell them I could research forever and never know what they do about their business. This is an important touchpoint so that our clients feel included in the process, and also so that we know we’re on the right track.

After the research gets approved we start the creative. Again, this looks different for every client based on their needs, but they all walk away with a logo and brand story, company fonts, and colours. We present the visuals and messaging in real-time and get their initial reaction and feedback. If any adjustments are needing to be made, we’ll discuss those and revise.

In the end, they get a lovely brand package and brand framework — everything they need to get started with their new brand!

7What's your favorite part of the creative process and why?

I have two favourite parts! The first one is the discovery session. I love to take that time with my client and really get to know them and build trust with them. I also always learn something new, about them or their business or industry. I often get to meet staff or family members at that point as well, so it’s an important moment of connection.

The next best part of the creative process is when it ‘clicks’. When the visual elements and the messaging just make sense for the design problem. Sometimes it feels like that moment will never happen but it inevitably comes when you least expect it!

8Describe your creative style and its main characteristics.

I definitely take a minimalist approach to branding. I love creating simple, sleek icons with very few bells and whistles. I want to create versatile logos that can be used in any context and simplicity is key for that. I’m always inspired by colour and I love the effect colour has on our brains. My work tends to be vibrant and has high contrast colour palettes.

9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your creativity process?

Absolutely. I think designers are at a disadvantage if they don’t see the cultural impact of how they were raised. Canada is huge with each region having its own culture. Where we are in Alberta is a microcosm of entrepreneurship. We have one of the highest entrepreneurs per capita in the entire world and that has affected how I approach both the creative side and the business side of Paper Lime Creative.

Specifically, I think it means I am a more purpose driving designer. Because everyone is so entrepreneurially motivated, you have to show value, having a strategic approach to our creativity has been very important.

10Congratulations! As the winner of the 2021 MUSE Creative Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?

It’s huge for us! It’s so amazing to have this kind of recognition after a year like 2020 and as we grow and expand outside of our geographical region. We’re thrilled that we’re able to tangibly show clients the quality of our work on a global stage.

11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2021 MUSE Creative Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

The Blackmore Real Estate brand is close to my heart. It was one of my favourites from late 2019, both the brand and the business owners behind the brand mean a lot to me. It’s also been very successful in its market, helping Blackmore Real Estate attract the customers they’re looking for. It was also the right project to enter because the owner took all the strategy to heart and implemented it on her own, which contributed to the success of the brand and business.

12What was the biggest challenge with this project?

Getting it just right. Blackmore had one chance to launch this brand. This is not the type of business that will easily be able to rebrand down the road like a smaller start-up might be able to. Through a lot of collaboration and iteration we nailed it though!

13How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?

I think the MUSE Award is an important milestone for my career. It absolutely shows a level of accomplishment in how we do business. It's also a reminder to me for how far I've come in my personal and professional development.

14What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?

Innovation, influence, and variety.

Designers and creatives are always on the lookout to make things better and better, which I love. It’s such a growth-driven industry.

Design influences SO MUCH that the average consumer doesn’t even realize they are being influenced. With great power comes great responsibility, and it’s important we use our ability to influence in the right way, but the possibilities are outstanding with the things we can influence.

As for variety, I am always in awe of my peers. I see so much great work being produced that is so different than what I produce. I just love seeing what people come up with.

15What makes your country specifically, unique in the creative industry?

Again I want to hone into Alberta, rather than Canada because it’s an interesting case study in design. Alberta is driven by industries that don’t need design. Our biggest industries are oil & gas, agriculture, and healthcare.

It means you can spot the visionaries and stand out companies because they’re the ones putting time into branding and marketing. It means that we as a branding and marketing agency have to be creative in how we market ourselves. It’s about constantly finding ways to add value.

16Where do you see the evolution of creative industry going over the next 5-10 years?

I think creative industries will see a big increase. It’s a job that isn’t affected by AI or robotics and finding creative solutions to big problems is going to become more and more necessary. I think roles will diversify and we will see “creatives” in roles not typically assigned to them.

17If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring MUSE Creative Awards submitter, what advice would you give them?

My biggest piece of advice for a student would be to network and to not give up. When you graduate there’s a huge influx of students into the market and not enough jobs for them all. There might be some tough years of jobs you wish you didn’t have to take but in time you will find some amazing positions and projects where you get to truly shine.

18What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the creative industry?

There are so many! If you can find a mentor, that’s your best bet. Someone with more experience than you in the industry can give you real-time advice and guidance.

In addition to that, there are great online courses like LinkedIn Learning, online tutorials, YouTube, there are a bunch of great books on graphic design as well.

19Tell us something you have never told anyone else.

The only test I’ve ever cheated on was a Grade 2 spelling test.

20Who has inspired you in your life and why?

I’ve been fortunate to have had a lot of amazing women to look up to. Most recently I have an outstanding coach that is always willing to push me out of my comfort zone and it’s been remarkable to watch her grow her business and hit a big milestone. Even though we’re in different industries it’s inspiring to see.

I also have a fantastic mentor who is mind-blowingly smart and I love to see how her marketing brain works. I’m constantly inspired by her to think outside of the box and to do better, more comprehensive work for my clients.

21What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?

The best advice I was ever given was “Don’t try to fit in, figure out where you fit” and I think that’s true in all areas of life. Some people won’t like the work you do, some people will love it. Some people will like you, some people won’t. It’s a waste of energy and a disservice to those who like you for who you are to try to be something you’re not.

Winning Entries

Blackmore Real Estate Brand Development | 2021

Blackmore Real Estate Brand Development | MUSE Creative Awards

Every adventure starts with a solid home base™. Blackmore Real Estate was founded by experienced realtors who were tired of...
(read more at MUSE Creative Awards)

Paper Lime Creative

Paper Lime Creative is all about finding your boldness, colour, and creativity.