An Interview with… Karen Davies

Karen Davies

I just adore what I do.

Karen Davies is the Founder & Creative Director at Pink Lemon Branding & Design Ltd; a branding studio based in the heart of Kent that offers everything from branding, one-off designs to long term marketing solutions and digital course creation.

As a mummy to two young girls, it was Karen’s two young daughters who inspired the company name ‘Pink Lemon’ due to being surrounded by lots of pink in her house!

Recently Karen was interviewed by Jane Mucklow for Brand Stories, below is the interview that took place.

1. Please introduce yourself. 

Hello, my name is Karen Davies and I am the Owner and Founder of Pink Lemon Branding & Design Ltd. I am a Branding Consultant & Graphic/Web Designer based in Maidstone, Kent.

I decided to start my business because my eldest daughter was starting school and I wanted to be around for the school run. My husband and I had waited over 10 years to have our children and so I wanted to be around to enjoy them. At the time I was working for a design agency in Sevenoaks, but I was really bored and unstimulated. I was ready to take the next step in my career, but I also wanted to be there for our girls, so I decided to leave and start my own business.

I wanted the name of the business to have depth and meaning and because our girls were the very reason, I made the leap from employed to self-employed, I wanted the name of the business to reference them in some way. 

As we had A LOT of pink in the house it soon became apparent that it would be a good fit. I am very girly and love pink, so I wanted to embrace my femininity and not shy away from it. 

 ‘Lemon’ came about because my maiden name used to be ‘Lewandowski’ which is Polish. At school the kids used to say ‘Lemondowski’ so it always stuck. Also lemons have healing properties and are an extremely powerful fruit. This aligns really well to branding because it’s the branding that sits at the core of any business and when done right, can have an amazing effective on how a business performs. It therefore seemed like a perfect fit.

I also wanted my name to be creative, fun, memorable and different.

2. Why did you start your business? 

I left school at 17 and headed straight for London where I worked in marketing & communications for over 14 years. During that time I studied fine art, typography, visual thinking, graphic design etc – anything and everything that would get me closer to my dream of becoming a Graphic Designer.

In order to make that leap, I left my 12 year career at the age of 28 to do a 3-year BA Hons Degree at UCA in Graphic Media which was an infusion of Graphic Design, Digital Media & Branding. I fell in love with it all and knew that my path was to work within commercial design.

I didn’t re-qualify to start a business, in fact I spent 6 years working for various national brands whilst starting a family. As my eldest started to get close to starting school, it dawned on me that in order for me to continue my career and do the job I was in, she would have to go into extended day 5 days a week. 

That’s was when I started to think of other options.

I do not come from a family of entrepreneurs so that whole concept of being a business owner and growing a business was completely alien to me but in order to be there for our girls, I was willing to give it a go. 

Before I left the design agency, I had secured my first web client and then from there it just grew. I knew early on that I needed to get out and network which for an introvert was a terrifying thought, but I jumped in with both feet and went for it.

I soon realised that it was exactly what I had been looking for. 

During my degree, I discovered that I excelled at creating visions and bringing them to life and this was no different. I am a creator and once I got over the fear of going it alone, I embraced the freedom that I had. Everything then changed when I realised that I was completely in control of the very thing I wanted to create.

Starting my business was a complete leap of faith. I had no money but I had unlimited passion, belief and support from the people around me.

3. What are your super-powers?

I am a creator at heart, and I am at my most inner peace when I am in the throes of creating something. I get this amazing buzz when I bring an idea to life and I love seeing something move through the process of being a conceptual idea to a tangible outcome. As I’ve got older, I now realise what a gift it is and how blessed I am.

I am great at strategic thinking; I am a visionary and love a ‘big picture’ view. I always have goal to achieve which is why I am so passionate about building my brand. I see the ‘big picture’ and how I want it to be, but I love the challenge of trying to figure out the plan to move it forward.

I am also highly creative and also love business – the infusion of the two creates magic.

4. Why are you an entrepreneur? 

My personal mission is to create a brand that has heart, meaning and purpose and which does good in the world.

My business mission is to connect businesses to their true purpose so they can build an authentic and compelling brand that capture the hearts of their customers.

To me, it isn’t about money, if I’m good at what I do, and I serve my customers well then, I believe the money will come. I want to create a brand that is a force for good within the local communities it serves.

Often when people start businesses it’s because they are looking to create something that will ultimately improve their life. We might start out with the hope that we will make money from our craft, but it soon becomes a personal journey which challenges and test us.

Creating a business should never be about money. I believe the focus should always be on what you can bring to other people’s life to make their life better.

I realised that my business is the vehicle to building my dream however what I also love is that I get to support other entrepreneurs on their journey to building their dream as well which is a privilege.

5. What do you want to be known for? 

I have two niches; one is branding where support clients to get their branding right so their identity is aligned to the goals and the vision of the business. The second is supporting female business leaders to create digital courses for their businesses.

What I do that is different to many of my peers is that I spend quality time with clients getting ‘under the hood’ of their business. I help them to get clarity about their brand and what they are looking to create. I spend time listening to my clients to understand what they REALLY want to achieve, what their dreams are. I challenge them on their goals, their beliefs, how they see themselves and also what they are capable of.

Dreaming small serves no one and so I always encourage my clients to think ‘big’ which is why I talk about building a brand not a business.

We are all capable of building unique brands for our businesses, the difference is understanding that in order to show up in the right way you need to first understand your why, vision, core values and ideal customer. These are my 4 pillars of brand building and without nailing them first, your business will struggle.

My job is to educate clients so that they understand that in order to create a unique and solid brand, they first need to lay the foundations so that everything that is created has depth, substance and longevity. It also needs to fit with the ‘big’ vision and be tied to goals so that can then be measured.

This approach is so much more than just creating a logo or a bit of design work.

Design is what we use to bring the vision to life.

I want to be known for doing good that helps to make a difference.

6. What are yours and your brand’s values? 

My core values are:

  • Ambition
  • Transparency
  • Purpose
  • Passion
  • Education

7. Who are your ideal clients? 

My clients are ambitious female entrepreneurs who are leaders in their business and life. They are on a journey to build their future and understand that to get where they need to get to, investment is needed. Not just financial investment but investment of time, energy and focus. A brand cannot be created overnight and so through educating our clients, they understand that it takes time to build a unique and compelling brand that gains customer loyalty.

We work with businesses of all sizes and across different industries providing strategic branding, graphic design, website design, digital marketing and social media support.

We focus on helping our clients to grow and become more profitable.

8. What’s the story behind your logo? 

My logo is simple and consists of 8 segments of the lemon; these represent each step within our branding process. Lemons are full of zest and that’s what we squeeze into our client’s brands to bring them to life.

9. What’s the story behind your brand colours and your visual style? 

I wanted the business to have a nod to my girls as they were my inspiration for starting the business in the first place – hence the pink.

The brand style represents spring… new beginnings which fits perfectly with what we do. We help give our client’s brands a new lease of life! I wanted to create something fresh, vibrant, full of twang and memorable.

I am currently in the process of evolving the branding; where before it had a large focus of colour and playful images, now that we’ve been around for a while and we have our office I want it to have more of a sophisticated feel – almost like we have grown up. I still intend of keeping the freshness and vibrancy of the branding because I love colour.

10. What’s your brand’s personality? 

Feminine, creative and fun with a twist of zest!

Whilst Pink Lemon isn’t about me, I am the creator of this brand and so it’s important it reflects who I am. It’s really important to me that the brand is authentic, genuine and shows up in a way that reflects who I am.

It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.

– Madeleine Albright

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