When I started Studio Anansi in 2013, I was a solopreneur with a dream. I wanted to build strategic websites for small businesses, and remove some of the tech overwhelm for busy business owners.
Over the years, my brand and services have changed quite a bit. I expanded from website design into graphic design, started to offer branding services, and grew my team. I even provided Squarespace websites for a hot minute (though not for long — I soon returned to WordPress for the design flexibility, creative features, and lower costs).
Along the way, I went through a series of brand updates. Every few years, I’d tweak my logo, add or subtract a brand color, and update our studio tagline. As recently as a couple years ago, Studio Anansi was rocking a minimalist vibe with lots of white space, classic serif font headings, and elegant photography.
The brand felt clean, refined, and…kinda boring.
As the heart and soul of the studio, that just didn’t sit right with me.
In my offline life, I was rocking colorful patterns and clashing prints. The refined-yet-sterile studio vibe wasn’t aligned with my own style — and as the founder and core of Studio Anansi, I didn’t like the lack of consistency.
People were choosing to work with the studio because they wanted to work with me. I knew it was important to have alignment, cohesion, and consistency to build know/like/trust between myself and my clients.
That’s when I knew it was time for another brand update.
The studio rebrand aimed to take us from “fine” to “fantastic.”
To begin, I developed a new brand palette of bright, jewel-tone colors. I picked a new heading font with more character and energy. And I re-wrote the homepage, services page, and about page — aka several of the webpages with the most traffic.
In the back of my mind, I knew that just updating my website wouldn’t be enough…not by a long shot.
With several rebrands already under my belt, I’d learned firsthand that every refresh meant an increasing number of digital places to update.
I had to be sure that my new colors, logo, and tagline were used on my social media profiles, invoicing platform, lead magnets, project management software, email signature, and online listings — and those were just the places that came to mind off the top of my head!
Fortunately, I had a secret weapon that would take this rebrand from “overwhelming” to “outstanding.” Enter the Elevated Experience.
The Elevated Experience is a full-service framework to elevate, streamline, and increase resilience in businesses.
One of its main components is ensuring brand cohesion, and it includes a comprehensive strategy to align brands across the internet.
I’d originally develop the Elevated Experience to help organizations that were “stuck” and treading water when they could have been soaring.
Over the past decade, I’ve worked with companies that hit roadblocks. One company wasted weeks of employee time trying to buy a new website domain…only to realize that they’d already owned the domain that entire time.
Another organization that didn’t realize that their website form had disconnected their email platform…and they’d missed out on months of new email subscribers.
Another small business owner was still using Gmail…even after years of six-figure revenue.
You get the idea.
I wanted to offer a service that could help businesses streamline their online presence, build audience trust, and reduce their admin workload.
In other words, I wanted to help business owners feel more confident and elevate their customer experience with new and improved systems.
That’s when I crafted the Elevated Experience.
I like to test business strategies and systems in my own company. In this case, Studio Anansi would be the perfect test subject for the Elevated Experience.
The studio fit all the criteria for my ideal audience:
- We’d been in business for at least two years (aka we had enough data to know what did and didn’t work in the business).
- We had gone through a recent rebrand and had new brand guidelines that needed to be cohesive across the internet.
- And I was overdue for a check of my systems, to make sure that all the automations, emails, and data syncs that I’d set up two years ago were still working.
Although I knew Studio Anansi would be the perfect test case, I didn’t expect to find anything earth shattering.
Turns out I was in for a couple huge findings. From the start of the process to the end, I kept uncovering more and more surprises.
To start, I put myself in the shoes of an outside business owner.
The normal Elevated Experience calendar includes pre-project pre and three weeks of project time.
In my case, I started by making a list of questions that had been building in my mind over the past several months.
- Was my new brand aligned with me? In the past, I’d felt like my brand was a little too generic and monochromatic. I wanted to be sure that my new branding felt authentically aligned with my style and the studio.
- Was my brand cohesive? Did I show up the same way across my website, social media, and print materials? The last thing I wanted was my new brand to appear on half of my platforms, but the old brand to slip through and still show up on my client-facing platforms (like my project management software and invoicing tools).
- Were my lead magnets working? I’d set up my lead magnets months ago (or in some cases, years ago). Were they still delivering to new signups? Was their content still relevant, or did I need to update them? Which lead magnets were the most popular and how did they convert? I wanted my lead magnets to be reliable and so valuable that people looked forward to hearing from me.
- Was my email list growing? This question was two-fold. I wanted to be sure that my email list was growing, and that it was growing with qualified prospects. This meant looking at my numbers, content, and conversions.
- Once leads and audience members became clients, how did my client welcome process work? Was my CRM still sending the correct automations? How could I update my messaging to make sure new clients felt welcomed and well-informed?
- During project sprints, how did information arrive? Was the timeline always clear? Did clients ask me the same question repeatedly? If so, those questions were great opportunities for me to answer inquiries before future clients ever had to ask.
- How could clients contact me? Was my calendar platform still working and sending meeting reminders? Over the past six months, I’d had a couple clients miss meetings because their emails never arrived. Where could I add a note telling them to contact me if they didn’t receive a confirmation email?
- Which other tech subscriptions was I paying for? I had a sneaking suspicion that I was paying for subscriptions that I no longer used. And several platforms that I did use had recently announced new features. Did some of these new features mean that I no longer needed other subscriptions? Could I cut down on my monthly subscription costs?
All in all, I had a lot of questions.
To be honest, I was actually glad to have such a broad range of concerns. They allowed me to test the Elevated Experience for many use cases.
Most of my clients have just a few of those questions, not the whole gamut. Having such a large collection of questions meant I could test and refine the Elevated Experience for a larger variety of clients.
The next step was completing the Elevated Experience workbook.
This is a document that I’ve been developing off-and-on for literal years.
It’s the product of all my knowledge and experience from the past decade. Every time I work with a new client, I’d make notes — questions I’d run into, feedback from the client, info that I wish I’d gathered at the start of the project, etc.
I organized the notes and built the Elevated Experience workbook to ask the questions that matter. In other words, it’s straightforward, comprehensive, and truly insightful.
Then, I tested all of my systems and experienced the client-side of my business processes.
This step was crucial because many of my systems were automations that I’d set up months prior (and in some cases, years prior).
I knew that this button was supposed to open that form. And this form was supposed to send that email. But I hadn’t tested my systems in at least six months, and I wanted to be sure that everything was working correctly.
I followed the map of my ideal customer journey, starting with tests as a prospective client. I signed up for emails on my website. Clicked through pages on my laptop and mobile. Downloaded a free e-book. Purchased a new subscription through my e-commerce platform.
From the admin side, I set up a new project and triggered my welcome email sequence. Reviewed my onboarding documents and tested links. Tried each payment option on my invoices.
Throughout each step in this testing (and the many, many more that I completed), I asked myself a series of questions:
- What was my goal for this system/tool, and how did it fit within my larger business goals?
- How well did this particular system/tool perform?
- If I could wave a magic wand, what would I change?
When I was done, I compared my results with my completed workbook. I learned a few things, including…
- My welcome email series was super outdated. I’d last updated the welcome series nearly three years ago, and it was overdue for a rewrite. The emails mentioned services that I no longer offered, and they included links to my “most popular” articles…as of three years ago. I had a huge opportunity to update my welcome emails and qualify prospects by making it clear from day one who I work with and how I could help them.
- But more importantly…my email platform had disconnected. I had a hunch that my email form and website had un-synced, and my tests confirmed it. Fortunately, I caught the issue quickly and was able to fix it. But this surprise definitely hit home that even professional geeks (like yours truly) need scheduled, systematic reviews of their tech systems. You never know when an email platform is going to update a setting and accidentally bring your data sync to a grinding halt.
- I had a ton of opportunities for improved automations. Such as syncing my client onboarding system and welcome form. Connecting my file storage and project management platform. Automating my social media calendar. So many places where I could save 5 minutes here…and another 5 minutes there…all adding up to hours of reduced admin busy work in an average week.
My testing brought many more revelations to light, besides those three biggies.
After testing my systems and reviewing my digital presence, I compiled a list of my next steps.
As I thought about these next steps, I kept in mind a few key questions:
- What can be eliminated?
- What can be automated?
I knew that next steps would be in two-parts — technical and tactical.
I’ll save you from the full kajillion-part checklist (it is…a lot).
Here’s a quick rundown:
Technical updates. This includes items like re-syncing my email and website, updating my logo across my online profiles, and fixing broken links I’d uncovered.
Tactical updates. This includes items like rewriting my website content, revising my lead magnets, and creating a content calendar to re-align my marketing efforts with my current goals.
I’ll be chipping away at this new to-do list for the next few months…at which point, I plan on doing another review to make sure that things are still working.
Fortunately, the next review will not another full, hours-long business evaluation like I just completed.
Now that I have this thorough deep-dive completed, future reviews can be much shorter and more targeted.
Going forward, I’ve scheduled a short tune-up every quarter to keep me on track.
I’m thinking of these reviews like they’re doctor checkups — short reviews to catch any issues and make sure everything is in tip-top shape.
And to be honest, I’m looking forward to the quarterly check-ins.
Before this process, I felt a lingering sense of concern (that I wasn’t sure if my systems were working) and overwhelm (that my to-do list was a mile long, but I didn’t know the specifics).
Now, I’m feeling confident (that my processes are fixed) and ready to charge forward (to get that to-do list checked off).
Plus, I’m excited for my review next quarter to see what progress I’ve made and how much more I can refine my processes then.
There you have it — my own business elevation through the framework of the Elevated Experience.
Overall, the process has been time-consuming, intense, and very, very rewarding.
Was anything direly in need of attention? Not necessarily. Aside from that disconnected email platform, nothing was completely off the rails.
But I did uncover quite a few places where updates and realignment now will save me hours in the future. Plus, I now have confidence in my systems, clarity on what needs to be done, and a plan to move forward without spinning my wheels or succumbing to overwhelm.
I know that there’s a lot of work to be done — but I feel ready to tackle my to-do list.
Takeaways of improving and streamlining my business through the Elevated Experience.
- Rebranding is just one of many reasons for the Elevated Experience. I initially scheduled the Elevated Experience because I had recently updated my brand, and I wanted to be sure that the new brand rolled out consistently across my online platforms. As I started planning, I quickly realized that this was a great opportunity to accomplish so much more — like testing my systems, updating my marketing emails, and revising my client processes.
- Begin with the end in mind. The Elevated Experience workbook includes a whole strategy section. Articulating my current goals and ideal customer journey turned out to be crucial when it came time for me to evaluate and update my systems. Processes that worked for me years ago weren’t as important for my new business conditions — but I wouldn’t have known to eliminate or update them without starting with my goals in mind.
- Nobody is safe from tech implosions. I was shocked to find out that one of my most important tech syncs had recently stopped working. Thanks (or not) to a software update, my email marketing platform and website forms were no longer syncing. This was a clear reminder that I need to practice what I preach by testing my automations periodically.
- Regular check-ins are important. I depend on automations working, platforms performing, and reliable systems. As a business owner, I don’t have time to hope that my business processes are in good health, or that my digital efforts are supporting my business goals. One review annually isn’t enough — there’s just too much time for problems to compound. That’s why I have scheduled an annual deep-dive and quarterly check-ins to detect issues and correct course before small issues snowball into emergencies.
- Peace of mind may be the most valuable result. By the time I finished the Elevated Experience, my state of mind had transformed. Before starting, I was unsure if my systems were all working and overwhelmed with a looming concern that there was so much to do. Thanks to the final report and my list of next steps, I’m now feeling confident and clear on what needs to be done. And that peace of mind has made this whole experience worthwhile.
Interested in streamlining and elevating your own business?
Doors are open, and I’m booking for 1 – 3 months out.
I’d love to get you on my calendar. Fill out the interest form to get started.