Specialize Or Die Trying.

September 14th, 2015 |Humayun Rashid

In the early days of Digital Brewery, Amlan and I have worked on all types of projects. We’ve worked on iPhone apps, local business marketing websites, web applications and even branding campaigns for small organizations. We literally took on everything we could get our hands on because we were relatively new at the time, wanted the experience and felt that getting all kinds of work was good for business. This was a costly mistake because we ended up overbooked, often times underpaid and exhausted because our resources were stretched thin. It was an extremely stressful time for us. That experience taught us that we needed to change our focus in order to grow. 

There are far too many generalist all-in-one creative shops for clients to choose from. Design businesses lacking a specialty or clear focus have become part of the overall problem of market saturation. In New York City alone there are over 3,800 design firms and a majority of them happen to be ‘full-service’, marketing speak for generalists. Non specialist agencies lack a fundamental purpose. It’s easy to become a generalist design firm because you can book more work often from various types of clients, however you’re setting yourself up for failure. Agencies that never ask the question ‘why do we exist in this industry?’ will fail to grow properly over time because of a clear lack of vision, deep expertise in a particular field and market competition. We’ve experienced this first hand dealing with cold RFP requests, price wars initiated by clients and just a general uneasiness in business development. And so we we’ve made the difficult business decision to specialize. We’re saying no to a majority of our leads to get to the right yes. It’s a necessary evil and one that will pay dividends over time because ultimately we care about who we work with and what we work on. I don’t want my team doing bland work because it’s not very motivating.

So this got us thinking. Over the past year we’ve been asking ourselves who are we as an agency and what do we stand for? When clients approach DBNY, what’s the first thing they think of? It’s been an exhausting soul searching experience for our team to find our purpose but I believe we’ve found a niche that both serves clients we aspire to work with and promotes a healthy work relationship for our team to get excited about.

Specializing in eCommerce, particularly in the fashion, lifestyle and retail space has helped us define our company credo and brand. This is who we are. This all that we do. We get excited when a client reaches out to us and wants to work on revamping their eCommerce efforts so they can ramp up sales for the holiday season or when a client is looking to enter a new market with a cool new product and is looking to collaborate with the right design partner. 

Our experience in specializing has led to a few key business development discoveries.

Benefits Of A Deep Focus

  1. Becoming an expert in your industry often allows you to dictate pricing or set the standard.
  2. Deep focused firms have leverage in the client pitching process and little competition from other all-in-one agencies.
  3. Our specialization has allowed us to become more selective with the clients we choose to work with.
  4. You become more profitable.
  5. You eventually become a reputable industry leader in your market.

The alluring aspect of eCommerce is that it will always remain an unfinished product. The real fun begins when the project launches because there is always tweaks, modifications and improvements to be made once the shop is live. We can A/B test messaging and copy on the homepage, analyze data on different shipment offers, and even modify featured product images. The options are boundless because there is always something to improve on. That’s the excitement factor that we value.

The alluring aspect of eCommerce is that it will always remain an unfinished product.

We’re a design focused eCommerce agency with an appreciation for data. We track everything. Often times measuring results post launch or making data driven design decisions gets overlooked in favor of visual design. We’re a design firm first and foremost but designing for aesthetic purposes alone provides minimal benefits for our clients. We design for results. We care about making incremental improvements for our clients shop that ultimately benefits their bottom line. Why? Because it means we know how to provide value for our clients. When you provide value to your clients you become irreplaceable. You become a partner. Mutual respect from clients and appreciation for expert recommendations is just an added bonus for having a specialized focus. You become sought after.

When you provide value to your clients you become irreplaceable. You become a partner.

Since our transition, we’ve seen almost immediate results. We’re working with brands we respect and admire in fashion, beauty and retail. Our team is doing innovative and interesting design work, a crucial component often overlooked. If you don’t believe in the brand or the work itself, then maybe it’s time to reconsider. The eCommerce space is incredibly difficult because of its many moving parts dealing with integrations, compliance, logistics and more but our capabilities and expertise has given our team an upper hand in positioning DBNY as leaders in the space. 


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