Amenify is a San Francisco technology company disrupting multi-family real estate with a software platform that connects apartment communities with experiences and services.
I joined Amenify in August 2017 during an exciting time. The team of six people (now 22) had just launched their first service vertical with a basic cleaning experience.
Over the last year, as Head of Product, I've overseen a revamp of the brand, marketing, and product. It was a total team effort to streamline a growing business. As you’ll see throughout this portfolio journey, every pixel, every word, and every bit of code was laid out and evaluated to drive the business forward.
Amenify has presented me the opportunity to flex one of my favorite muscles: connecting the sky with the dirt. That is, to be simultaneously strategic and hands-on. The magic happens in the sandbox.
SCOPE OF WORK
Discovery & Strategy
August 2017 - Present
VP of Product & Design
I helped Amenify tell their story and achieve product fit through a bold new identity, a robust online experience, and a scalable marketing strategy.
BRANDING. APP DESIGN. MARKETING
Amenify needed to re-energize the first iteration of their brand. The original Amenify brand was a white-label hotel-style concierge concept, and it had not kept pace with the rest of the business. As one might liken to product development, the brand, was still very much an MVP as well--hamstrung by monochromatic blues and a single type-set borrowed from the logomark.
A company’s brand is foundational. The brand distills the essence of a company and makes it easy to transmit its heart and soul through a variety of languages, interfaces, experiences, and conversations. Naturally then, Amenify’s brand-building story starts at the very beginning.
After a listening tour that included many jam sessions, I worked with the executive team to develop a North Star that would guide the business forward. Amenify would focus on the “property wallet” and would be a “property-centric marketplace” for multifamily managers and operators. It was time for the brand to evolve into something more adaptable, dynamic, and scalable. The brand needed to carry the boldness of the mission.
Few organizations know why they do what they do. The why for Amenify was about more than just making money. It answered a deeper sense of purpose.
In order to understand our brand decisions, it's important to understand Amenify's position in the marketplace. Amenify promised a platform for properties to easily plug into, which meant the brand had to morph from a software-as-a-service to a customer-facing service marketplace. Amenify is effectively a B2B2C business. In practice, this meant we were delivering a service to residents on behalf of their property manager. We needed to be able to de-emphasized the brand at certain touchpoints. You’ll see throughout this portfolio journey, a brand, product, and messaging that leverages grey label concepts to balance the myriad of stakeholder interests.
The key theme to this point has been adaptability and this was true for our typeface. We chose one extensive typeface family that could morph across brand applications to feel all-inclusive. It needed to be utilitarian, but also modern and simple with excellent print and on-screen readability. Avenir Next fit the bill with the perfect blend of cleanliness and playfulness.
After evaluating the original brand work, I envisioned a palette that could expand on what already existed. This would allow us to bridge our design language across a myriad of business assets, collateral, and experiences. The leading color, Amenify blue, was a solid first-choice and it shaped the foundation for our grey labeling.
Due to grey labeling, we were limited on how we could emphasize the Amenify brand, and so we had to infuse design language in more subtle ways. One thing that became immediately clear to me was an opportunity to differentiate services and experiences. By focusing on the service vertical, we were able to create a unifying resident experience flexible enough to accommodate many properties and service providers.
CREATING A LIFESTYLE BRAND
The visuals had a tall order: they needed to carry the boldness of our vision while feeling relaxed, to reflect how simple, yet powerful, the platform is to use. This begged the question of where Amenify would fall on a visual identity spectrum. The original brand had landed on a heavy slant towards photography. This was a solid design choice as no great brand or online experience is complete without powerful imagery, but the brand was underutilizing graphics and vector-based concepts that could add another dimension to the brand. I saw an excellent opportunity to bring the brand to life with energy, personality, and delight by enhancing strong imagery with graphics to deliver a 360-degree brand experience.
BRANDING. DESIGN. MARKETING.
When I joined Amenify, the team had done just enough design-wise to raise a few hundred thousand dollars and get a product to market, but a major overhaul was in order if the company wanted to raise a Series-A.
At the time, there was a basic marketing page. No blog site. And the software that had been shipped was pre-MVP with no paywall, no provider portal, and only basic features and static views for properties and residents. It would take a very focused team several months to complete the refresh, and in many ways, that process and the evolution of those assets remain underway.
With the core brand pieces in place, it was time to roll up my sleeves to design and develop tangible assets and user experiences. I completed a number of stakeholder interviews to empathize with customer needs and to ensure whatever we built next was built to last.
Sidebar: one of my favorite things about building products and software is the opportunity to create delightful, functional experiences that enable people to get more out of their life, more out of their days, and ultimately live happier, more fulfilling days. This was definitely the case for Amenify. It was a great joy to bring these projects to life. As I look back, this is my favorite reflection of the work we accomplished.
MARKETING SITE DEVELOPMENT
In December 2017, I led a successful transition from an engineering-owned marketing site to a Wordpress/Divi CMS that could be easily managed by the marketing team.
The marketing site needed a complete rehaul. It required intensive information re-architecture and content strategy, including defining target audience personas and user stories; feature examination, regrouping and redefinition; and revised page-level content strategy across the site.
After re-engineering the sitemap, we crafted better stories through content flow, page structure, and copywriting. From content strategy to wireframes to page design, retaining the fluid simplicity of the product in visuals was vital. The lighthearted new brand system encouraged creative flourishes in UX/UI design.
I also designed and developed a new blog site on a separate server instance. The blog site is a simple setup that showcases some of our content strategy. In addition to strengthening SEO, it provides us another channel to exercise thought leadership.
With the world going the way of the smartphone, Amenify needed to take a mobile-first approach to app development. I led our product and engineering teams to wireframe, design, test, and ship entirely new mobile and desktop experiences. I created a variety of UI templates to reduce front-end development and maintain consistency across pages. This project is a particularly successful example of spending more time wireframing so that the design phase is informed and efficient.
I tackled the app design from beginning to end: discovery, wireframing, design, and prototyping.
First impressions matter. An effective onboarding experience is critical to signing up new users, converting them to paying customers, and retaining them over time. I believe user onboarding is about getting customers to that wow or aha moment, preferably in the first session. For Amenify, we wanted our customers to understand the core value of our product as soon as possible, so we spent a lot of time thinking through our onboarding experience. We completed many customer interviews, built prototypes, and followed back up with customers to ensure that we had captured their insights. The results were immediate with a measurable uptick in activations and a 35% increase in first session bookings.
RESIDENT ONBOARDING FLOW
Over the last few years I’ve designed and shipped numerous user experience flows where the customer passes through a paywall to book a service or experience, and so I was excited to apply all that I had learned previously into the Amenify booking experience.
For Amenify, we had to understand and consider many factors: service times, location, price information, and provider type to name a few. The challenge as you might have guessed was accommodating the myriad of service verticals that included paywalls: cleaning, dog walking, personal training, fitness classes, massage, and transportation. Mastering the booking flow was vital to driving transactions and moving the Amenify business forward.
RESIDENT BOOKING FLOW
BRANDING. APP DESIGN. MARKETING.
As I previously shared, Amenify's product and design were primitive when I started. This was true on the marketing side as well. In fact, there was no one managing or doing any marketing. Amenify didn’t have any social accounts, wasn’t using a marketing email platform, and generally, wasn't performing any marketing activities. As the business grew, a proper marketing team was an increasing priority. The challenge was to come up with a marketing gameplan, assemble a team, and get to work building a scalable infrastructure to run campaigns.
Once the marketing site development project completed in March 2018, it was time to focus on the next big fire. We knew going back to 2017 that our email program was essential to managing stakeholder communications for a three-sided marketplace. I was up to my eyeballs in Mailchimp journeys. It was no longer tenable, so I did what I always do, I got to work, planning the work, and then working the plan.
ENTERPRISE EMAIL MANAGEMENT
Amenify is a Salesforce organization that has built a robust, custom Salesforce Service and Sales Cloud stack. It was a natural choice to use the Marketing Cloud for all of our email automation.
Anyone who's ever delved into enterprise email automation knows how complex it can be. Transactional and marketing email are highly visible and our platform would support both and so the pressure was on to synchronize systems and maintain data integrity across a myriad of programmatic campaigns and journeys.
Speaking of... my favorite aspect of this project was building programmatic journeys that could scale with the business. It allowed us the opportunity to dig through large data to think strategically. We were able to do some fun segmentation and micro-targeting as a result.
RESIDENT WELCOME SERIES
RESIDENT WELCOME KIT
Thoughtful service design is essential to delightful customer experiences. We spent a great deal of time thinking through our resident journeys. We mapped the entire customer lifestyle across different personas.
As a result of our life-event targeting and research, one group really stood out. The data showed that there was significant long-term customer value in converting a “new mover.” This persona is often new to the area, and therefore they're not tethered to previous provider relationships. In fact, they're looking for someone like Amenify to provide trusted services, experiences, and recommendations. As we zeroed in on the “new mover” it became apparent that there was this really cool opportunity that presented itself the first time residents walked into their new unit.
The Welcome Kit was born out of trying to make an authentic and long-lasting connection with our residents. Welcome home.
We set out to create the perfect new mover experience. We really tried to empathize with what it feels like to move into your new place for the first time.
Amenify is a fast-moving sales-driven organization, which means I was always creating new sales and marketing assets to keep up with the business. While my first love is designing software experiences, it’s fun to mix it up from time to time with print and other types of content and media.
Amenify has had a lot of success creating sustainable momentum publishing their own press releases. The strategy was simple: take the time to announce Amenify wins by highlighting our wonderful customers and partners. We've seen a direct improvement at the top-of-funnel with property sales and fundraising as a result of the thousands of new impressions the PR campaigns generated.