Welcome to Podcast Episode 58: Creating A Dog Brand That Converts with Kaila Piepkow of Dox Design. On this episode, I”m chatting with a branding expert and designer who’s been working with pet brands to help them reach their goals. She asks the tough questions with her clients – so listen in to get ideas for what you should be asking yourself before pursuing a website or logo redesign. She also shares some great resources that you can use to take your design to the next level!
Creating A Dog Brand That Converts
Kaila Pipko is a dog-obsessed girl living in a design world. Both a dreamer and a doer, Kaila has a knack for bringing her client’s visions to life. She instinctively knows how to uncover businesses brand stories and effectively communicate it with their target audience through unique, on-brand design elements really making their brand stand out. She knows just how important great design is to add that extra layer of legitimacy to propel your business to the next level of success.
After a few years working in the agency world for brands like Kellog and Ocean Spray, Kaila decided to take her knowledge of design and love for dogs and combine them into one, creating Dox Design. When she isn’t behind the screen, you can find her walking Finley, Felix, and Ferb in Downtown Grand Rapids with her husband Jordan.
(00:29) Introducing Kaila Piepkow of Dox Design
(03:09) Backtrack of Dox Design
(06:44) Why did Kaila focus on pet businesses
(08:27) What personality traits Kaila shares with her dogs
(13:45) How Kaila help her clients on their brand to stay relevant to their target audience
(17:10) How to incorporate brand into social media images without hiring a camera crew
(23:28) Favorite tools or apps and resources
(26:06) Where to find Kaila Piepkow
TORI: How did Dox Design come to be?
Kaila: I was really fortunate to gain agency experience after graduating with my bachelor’s degree. I was able to work for one of the top design agencies here in the Midwest and that was my dream. I wanted to fast track in the agency world and move to a big city like New York or Chicago. I quickly realized that was not what I thought it was going to be. I hated leaving my dogs every day. I hated being in an office setting. I got to work with really cool brands, but I just wasn’t really feeling inspired. So here I am thinking the whole life I had planned for myself is not what I thought it was going to be. So I started doing the whole side hustle thing.
I was ingrained in the dog community here in my hometown of Grand Rapids. So naturally a lot of my first clients ended up being the pet sitter I use or the dog walker I use. And the pet community knows another so it kind of just was a happy accident from there. I started getting introduced to a bunch of Facebook groups, which led to more pet stores out of state. And before I knew it about six months in, I was freelancing under my own name and I had all clients that were all pet-related. I thought, wow I have a business.
TORI: Why do you focus on pet businesses?
Kaila: I guess when a lot of people ask me why pet businesses. I could start with the cliche of being inspired by my dog, which I definitely was. However, the more I’ve gotten into it, I enjoy connecting with other professionals who have that bond with animals and seeing how much they love their dogs and how much they love to help pets. We instantly connect and it’s like we’re best friends right away. So many of my clients, I end up buying their products for my own dogs. I ended up telling all my dog mom friends about it. It’s really nice because my clients don’t really feel like clients. They feel like friends to me. The more I got involved with it and I just started seeing how passionate people were about their pets.
TORI: What is a brand and how can a pet business create one?
Kaila: We actually have a whole series on our blog called Drool-Worthy Design. And I’ve been noticing all these super trendy pet businesses popping up. So each month, I feature one. On my blog, I show their visuals and explain what they’re doing. That’s interesting. So a lot of these older pet brands or people with independent brands don’t really get what branding is. They can go on the blog and start to see what they are doing so they can understand what unique branding is. I think one trend that’s really been happening lately is a lot of the hand drawn patterns and elements. I actually just wrapped up a brand in Florida. She was a pet sitter. She had bought her logo off Fiverr and then realize that it was a reproduce logos that like 20 other pet sitters had. So we ended up working with her and hand lettering a logo that fit her much better.
TORI: How do you help your clients’ stay relevant to their target audience?
Kaila: So looking good is just one part of it. There are designers and freelancers as well as Fiverr and if you just want a logo, you can get one to like $5. But that is definitely not what we believe in at Dox. We believe in getting to the heart of your brand and figuring out your why. So like I said, I asked the hard questions. If someone comes to me and they say, I want this thing, I will ask why. Because that thing they’re asking for might not even be the thing they need to get to their goal. They may want a new logo because they want to increase my sales. However, I go look at their website and they don’t even have a call to action to go to their store. I then let them know a logo may not be what they should be focused on. So you have to make those strategic decisions when it comes to the visuals so that you can resonate with that audience.
TORI: One of the services you offer is social media graphics packs, how does that work?
Kaila: What we did was create what we call our monthly graphic pack. So we have six style packs with their base templates. For social media, we have Instagram posts, Instagram stories, Facebook posts, blog graphics, and pretty much anything digital. When a client signs up, they give us all their brand information. That includes colors, type faces, images, illustrations and a base template. We then completely customize it to their brand. So it’s kind of a little bit of both. We switched out all the colors, put in your illustrations to add that special little element and voila!
And the best part is it’s only $150 a month and you get 20 custom graphics each month. So I get a ton of clients where we do all their Instagram graphics for the entire month. It’s right in the middle where it’s accessible, affordable and still unique to you. You can pick and choose if you want email headers or Instagram squares or whatever.
TORI: What is you favorite tools and apps to run the business?
Kaila: I use the Adobe Creative Cloud, which is a software service that designers use. That’s not always the most accessible thing to clients. When it comes to layout, design or templates, I definitely recommend Canva. But also beyond that, when trying to create a brand or find resources, one of my favorite things is Unsplash. It’s a great, free website where you can get authentic images. And if you are buying stock images Stocksy.com. It’s a super affordable, stock photo website. They even have stock video that you can use. Creative market is also a great place to go for that.
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