Fueling digital transformation

We are Propane, a digital experience and platform agency. We work to augment marketing and digital transformation initiatives. Our services include: brand strategy, content strategy, creative design, digital experience, development, and connecting marketing ecosystems. Founded in 2003, we deliver experiences that inspire action with brands like Kaiser Permanente, Equinix, GE, Intel, CalAmp, Banner Health, Volkswagen, and Clarisonic.

 
$5,000+
 
$100 - $149 / hr
 
10 - 49
 Founded
2003
Show all +
San Francisco, CA
headquarters
  • 1153 Mission Street
    San Francisco, CA 94103
    United States

Portfolio

Key clients: 

Kaiser Permanente, Equinix, GE, Intel, Sutter Health, CalAmp, LoJack, Banner Health, Volkswagen, Mahindra, Telltale, EA and Clarisonic.

Reviews

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Brand Framework & UX Design for Performing Arts Nonprofit

“Propane’s work was strong, thoughtful, and immensely valuable.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Mar. 2017 - July 2019
Project summary: 

After being enlisted to refresh the UX/UI of a performing arts nonprofit’s website, Propane was tasked with pivoting to reconfigure their brand framework and content strategy.

The Reviewer
 
201-500 Employees
 
San Francisco, California
David Chambers
Former Revenue & Advancement Officer, San Francisco Symphony
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Propane delivered exceptional insights and a new brand framework on which the client based their new website. They significantly streamlined the way in which customers purchase tickets and donate. On top of being intellectually curious and amazingly creative, the team provided excellent service.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I used to be the chief revenue and advancement officer of San Francisco Symphony, the largest performing arts nonprofit in California. I oversaw all revenue: all parts of the business that pertain to fundraising, marketing, and external parts of the business (public relations, front-of-house, volunteer engagement).

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Propane?

They were initially brought in to redevelop our outdated website to improve the UX/UI.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

During the UX/UI update, we arrived at the conclusion that there wasn’t much alignment within our organization about how we wanted the website to be. This led to an exercise in the development of a brand framework. We held conversations about our mission and vision to shape our branding, and they reconfigured our content strategy to supplement our renewed framework.

What is the team composition?

We were working with Neil (Co-Founder), Kim-Minh (Director of Strategy), and Alec (Director of User Experience). There were a couple of others who were working on the creative and technical side of things.

How did you come to work with Propane?

Propane was brought on prior to my onboarding the company. I believe that the prior CMO at the Symphony brought them on.

How much have you invested with them?

We spent a significant 6-figure range.

What is the status of this engagement?

They began in February 2017, we wrapped up the work in August of 2019.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

Propane’s work was strong, thoughtful, and immensely valuable. They delivered a much more streamlined process of buying tickets and making donations. They also made excellent strides with our SEO, the hard results of which are obscured by the effect of COVID-19. After the new site went live (and the site was developed by another company), we saw an uptick in site traffic. We got great feedback about the usability of the new website.

While we relied on another agency to deliver our visual identity, Propane’s work on our brand framework and content strategy definitively informed what we ended up with. Their work also helped us formalize the strategic objectives for our organization, which enjoyed a redefined messaging focus that it previously lacked.

How did Propane perform from a project management standpoint?

While I wasn’t as heavily engaged with them for project management, my staff members who worked with them directly reported that their service was excellent. Our conversations during in-person meetings were always amazingly informative. They’re a great company and I thoroughly enjoyed our working relationship. If I were still at the company, I’d try to find a way to continue working with them.

What did you find most impressive about them?

As a group, they’re intellectually curious and very creative. They understand data well and helped us get out of the weeds, a typical challenge for major performing arts organizations. They helped us look at things differently and were responsive to feedback.

Are there any areas they could improve?

I can only think of one challenge. I don’t think they always understood the core work of the business — meaning, the 20 or so weeks of classical concerts we do every year. As a company that was less familiar with our industry, they focused more on what could be done with the more popular parts of programming. That said, I think I’m being pedantic because I’ve spent my career working in the performing arts.

They were open to feedback, as well as to understanding why their ideas — while being great — wouldn’t fly with some of our different stakeholders.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

Like with any partnership, have a clear brief from the start. Be flexible and communicate. Be prepared to put the time into it and to be open to listening to all of their ideas. They’re great partners.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Member Portal Prototype Creation for Healthcare Venture

"Propane was our partner in the Stutter web redesign. This history made them our only choice. Great work, good value!"

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$10,000 to $49,999
 
Jan. - June 2020
Project summary: 

To support a healthcare joint venture's secure member portal, Propane provided UI/UX design services. They created an interface that shares prototype journeys.

The Reviewer
 
10,000+ Employees
 
Sacramento, California
Karin Miklos
CX & Marketing Dir., Sutter Health | Aetna
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Users responded well to the new designs, and the company is in the process of socializing the prototype with internal teams. An experienced partner, Propane provided strategy, design, and agency leadership during the COVID-19 period. They went the extra mile to provide their deliverables.

The client submitted this review online.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your company and your position there.

Our organization is a 50/50 Joint Venture between the Sutter Health Network and Aetna Insurance companies. My role is that of CX and Marketing lead.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

For what projects/services did your company hire Propane?

We were looking for a partner to help us reimagine the member experience on our secure member portal.

What were your goals for this project?

Our goals were

  1. Improve the member experience by making core features and functionality hierarchical on the page so users can find the content easily.
  2. We have a vast amount of data on our members but we aren't using this resource to improve their experience- leverage the data and personalize the member experience, capture user preferences and create stickiness.
  3. Bring in the differentiated features our plan offers to members to the site and make them easy to use and understand.
  4. Design some future state enhancements we could bring to the portal to improve UX, Bill pay, and connection to Sutter's E.H.R.
  5. Pull the larger Aetna organization along to help us leap-frog our current position.
SOLUTION

How did you select this vendor?

Propane was our partner in the redesign of the Sutter web offerings and helped us consolidate 53 distinct sites to one cohesive site with, one data set for providers, a single taxonomy and a modular design that accommodates some variation from legal entity to legal entity. This history and great experience with Neil and team made them our only choice for this prototype. Great work, good value!

Describe the scope of their work in detail.

This work included design, UI, UX, strategy, channel consideration, technical considerations and the creation of a cool interface from which to share the prototype journeys. My role was to drive the vision and detail out the current state.

What was the team composition?

Strategy, UI/UX, design, project management, agency leadership.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Can you share any outcomes from the project that demonstrate progress or success?

We are in the process of socializing this prototype with internal teams across the Aetna joint ventures and with senior leadership at Aetna. The response thus far has been incredibly positive.

How effective was the workflow between your team and theirs?

This went incredibly smoothly with PM's on both teams (Propanes and SH|A's) coordinating meetings, deliverables etc.

What did you find most impressive about this company?

Vision of a future state, strategy, design, user experience. project management and agency leadership- they are the whole package. Mind you this was done during the COVID period and they did not miss a beat.

Are there any areas for improvement?

none

5.0
Overall Score They just are smarter than the other firms I have worked with and they do excellent work.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    never an issue coordinating calendars and getting the work done, on time and on budget
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    very reasonable
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    Excellent work product
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    Very

Web Strategy & Development for Multiple Medical Companies

" I recommend them for small or large projects because they have been able to right-size scope on any project."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.5
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
 
June 2015 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Propane was key in digitally transforming the e-commerce ventures of two major healthcare-focused businesses. They consolidated over 520 standalone sites into a united platform for one, and 30 for the other.

The Reviewer
 
10,000+ Employees
 
Phoenix, Arizona
Alexandra Morehouse
CMO, Banner Health
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Propane's most recent project has resulted in an 86% increase in web traffic and a 41% jump in engagement. Their main skill lies in their ability to tie experiences from one web property back to a central brand, highlighting key value propositions through exceptional UX design.

The client submitted this review online.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your company and your position there.

I'm the Chief Marketing Officer of Banner Health, a $10 billion integrated health system serving the South West.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

For what projects/services did your company hire Propane?

Prior to Banner Health, I was at Kaiser Permanente. At both companies, I need to significantly transform our digital footprint and ecommerce business and I hired Propane for both. Propane was pivotal in getting Kaiser Permanente digitally prepared for the Affordable Care Act, and they performed so well that I brought them into Banner as well.

What were your goals for this project?

To drive traffic and to increase revenues for the company.

SOLUTION

How did you select this vendor?

I wanted a hands-on agency that had both the strategic thinking as well as the ability to execute. I had over a dozen agencies in my roster at the time, but none of them offered the capabilities that Propane does.

Describe the project and the services they provided in detail.

At Kaiser, they had to consolidate over 520 standalone websites into a single unified KP front door, and they had to be fully integrated into each of the State Insurance exchanges as well as the Federal Insurance exchange. Incredibly complex and tricky.

At Banner, we needed to consolidate 30 websites to a single one and create robust presence for each of our service and product lines. They have been able to craft solutions that help tie experiences from one property to another for customers , which is highly valuable as brands struggle with fragmented systems.

What was the team composition?

The team had a total of ten people, counting both Propane and staff on my side. They worked seamlessly as partners including both business owners and the client side IT staff as well. Highly collaborative team work on all of my engagements with them.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Can you share any information that demonstrates the impact that this project has had on your business?

We've seen 86% increase to web traffic and 41% increase to engagement at Banner. Google My Business results increased over 30% as well. Internal leadership is very pleased.

How was project management arranged and how effective was it?

Project management was excellent: on time and on budget.

What did you find most impressive about this company?

They have been able to craft solutions that help tie experiences from one property to another for customers, which is highly valuable as brands struggle with fragmented systems. Propane can also dive deep into a multitude of business lines to expose the value propositions that make our brand unique and memorable to our audiences.

This is made possible by the consultative & strategic approach, and their empathetic channeling of the user experience through HCD. Their design systems approach brings brand consistency and scale and ultimately their language-agnostic coding and technical skills bring these digital experiences to life.

Are there any areas for improvement?

Not that I can think of. I recommend them for small or large projects because they have been able to right-size scope on any project.

5.0
Overall Score Best thinking, best results and best value.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    On time, on budget
  • 4.5 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    Excellent value for price
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    Very satisfied
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    Highly satisfied.

Web Redesign & Digital Strategy for Cloud-Based Software Firm

“Propane helped us achieve our goal of increasing leads from the website by 10%.”

Quality: 
4.5
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Jan. 2016 - Apr. 2016
Project summary: 

Propane redesigned a corporate website, working closely with an internal development team to incorporate existing content and iterate as needed.

The Reviewer
 
501-1000 Employess
 
San Francisco, California
Creative Director, Computer Software Company
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Propane's strategic redesign of the website enhanced online performance, bringing in more direct sales leads as a result. In addition to being an extremely talented strategy and branding company, their team is also reliable, organized, and professional. Their work is worth the investment.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I'm the creative director at an electric company under a division that provides field service software solutions.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Propane Studio?

We needed to redesign our corporate website.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Once we started working together, we met quite a few times to go over strategy and our business objectives. They interviewed our management team to make sure their goals for the website aligned with ours, picking up on any nuances of what the managers wanted to see on the site. Our team engaged with them on design and we developed the site on our end, collaborating closely as they rearranged content and iterated as needed.

What is the team composition?

Neil (Partnership and Chief Experience Officer, Propane Studio) helped us with the strategy of the website. We also worked with a few others, including a content advisor, art director, and a designer.

How did you come to work with Propane Studio?

We selected vendors to interview from a shortlist of the top agencies on the West Coast and set up two interviews with each company. Ultimately, we liked Propane's presentation the best; it was the most well-thought-out and strategic we'd seen.

How much have you invested with them?

We invested about $100,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started engaging Propane in the Fall of 2015. The project kicked off in January 2016 and wrapped up by that April.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

Propane helped us achieve our goal of increasing leads from the website by 10%. They strategically laid out content in a more user-friendly and engaging way.

How did Propane Studio perform from a project management standpoint?

They were on top of everything and timely about checking in; we never had an issue with their team. We utilized their internal project management tool to proof design iterations, allowing us to easily make comments as needed.

What did you find most impressive about them?

Propane is an extremely talented strategy and branding company. Their biggest strength is web design.

Are there any areas they could improve?

I can't think of anything.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend working with Propane. You're going to meet the goals and objectives you want if you choose to work with them.

4.5
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    I never had an issue with their team. They never missed a call or deadline.
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    They were one of the more expensive vendors we considered, which is a testament to how good their presentation was.
  • 4.5 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    There's always some room for improvement.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Graphic Design For Vehicle Entertainment System Application

"They were quite good with communication and project management."

Quality: 
4.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
4.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Jan. - July 2014
Project summary: 

Propane Studio crafted graphics and icons for a vehicle entertainment system. The project involved graphic design, asset creation, and layout design for roughly 20 individual screens.

The Reviewer
 
10,000+ Employees
Senior Industrial Designer, Automobile Manufacturer
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Internal tests show that the graphics display well. Propane Studio's professionalism, seamless communication and knowledge of the Android platform helped them overcome the limitations of a small screen. In addition, their obliging customer relations enabled them to accommodate internal workflow.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your company.

My organization is [a wholly owned subsidiary of a global leader in car manufacturing], specifically the electronics research laboratory.

What is your role at the company?

I’m a senior industrial designer.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What was your goal for working with Propane Studio?

We requested them to do the graphic design for a mobile application for the vehicle entertainment system. They had to make the concepts for the graphics and the look and feel of our application. 

SOLUTION

Please describe the scope of their work.

We broke it down into three steps. The first one was to get the input for the look and feel of the application, the second milestone was to execute and create the graphical assets for us to be able to build the application, and the third one was to create iconography for our application.

Why did you select Propane Studio with which to work?

We used our own internal purchasing process based on different quotes. Propane Studio was the most qualified from the three bids and had the best pricing.

Can you provide a sense of the size of the work?

There was a lot of technical work that had to be done. So, I would say it was a medium-sized project, about 20 screens that were very detailed and had to work for the vehicle environment. It’s not a mobile application that you can look at on your phone, but it’s an application that is integrated into a production car. So, that elevated the complexity of the project.

How long did the work take?

The project was about six months, mostly because of our timeline. They had to adjust their work schedule with our agile process to develop software, so they had to fit into our timeline. The project started in January [of 2014] and went to July.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What were the results of the work?

The creative work was straightforward. I’m happy with the quality of the ideation phase. There’s a challenge to the integration of the graphics into our industry, and they showed good flexibility in adapting to our processes and internal deadlines.

I think the technical knowledge of the platforms is something that could be improved, in terms of following guidelines and recommendations for a specific platform, and documentation of the specifications of how to apply the graphics in our framework, or on our software. That was something that could have been much better.

Did this have a negative impact on the project overall?

I think so, but I also don’t know of any company that has a solution for that yet. This is something we’ve been learning together to improve. There’s no benchmark of how to do these things, but it could be a good improvement to look into better technical tools to share those particular specifications better, so that the developers are able apply their graphic concepts in a more straightforward way.

What were the results of the work?

Right now, the only feedback would have to be internally. The product hasn’t launched officially yet. Their technical knowledge of the graphics and how the Android operating system and development tools work have been appreciated. That did have an impact. From the creative side and graphical side, I’m happy with the quality of the work. Unfortunately, as our platform is a little bit older, you don’t have the cool screens that you have on your desktop or your phone. So, we really need to be careful which graphics we use, otherwise the quality will be perceived by our customers as a low quality of our displays and hardware. I think that was the best example of the shortcomings of the project, but I also understand it’s a specialized area they were working on here.

Is there anything unique about them that really makes them stand out, compared to other companies?

They were quite good with communication and project management. They have a good suite of tools to communicate with us and show us their progress. They have a good setup to share files, and they delivered all the work up to the specifications and requirements that we agreed upon in the beginning of the project. I have a really good relationship with them. They really did quality work.

They also have good client relations to make sure they’re not missing anything. They get all of the information that is required to perform the work. They communicate on a weekly basis to make sure milestones are achieved. I have a good impression of their professionalism, their deliverables, and their commitment to their work. I think overall it’s really positive feedback, and in comparison with other companies we have worked with in the past, they were best able to adapt to our way of working. It can be really hard for them, especially as we’re so large and have all these really bureaucratic processes, so with purchasing and payment and communication, I think they did a really good job being patient with us, to be able to do their work.

4.5
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 4.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 4.0 NPS
    Willing to refer