It’s been a busy four years since we launched altr (and our first site at getaltrd.com). Back in 2014 we made a bet, informed by nearly twenty years of experience in the brand and digital media world, that the time was ripe for a new kind of agency. The days of retainers and AORs were waning (especially among the most innovative and exciting clients); clients were building their own internal strategic, creative and technology teams whose capabilities rivaled (and often surpassed) the capabilities of those of the agencies and consultancies they’d been hiring; and some of the most talented agency-side people, from Creative Directors to Technology Leads were striking out on their own to pursue more fulfilling and exciting work. Traditional agencies, overburdened by layers of staff and rooms packed with foosball tables, faced new challenges in making the economics work to serve clients’ evolving, often project-based needs. When we launched our site in 2014, our focus was showing how our previous experiences and a new staffing idea we called “the collective” could promise “agency-quality” marketing and product design work. The site leaned heavily on our founder’s resumes, our process, and an explanation of our collective model, which pulled from both internal resources and a close network of freelancers, to staff each project with the fewest, but exactly the right people to serve a client’s specific needs. Now, in 2018, it’s time to celebrate the experiment that keeps working. Though we’re always wary of complacency, altr has now reached a point in our history where we can speak confidently to what we’ve achieved, in addition to always keeping our eyes on the horizon for new challenges to overcome. Our moto “We Design The Future Every Day” now isn’t just an objective, but it’s a promise proven out through client work for everything from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. And as you’ll notice in our new site, our focus has shifted from talking about what we can do, to featuring the work we’ve done and how we did it.
It’s a simple, show don’t tell, approach to telling altr’s story with our process, from strategic development, to concepting and testing, and finally to design, launch and delivery told through work we’ve done for clients. With our rigorous, yet still nimble process and teams that are custom built for each client’s unique needs, at altr, how we got there is almost as important as what we ultimately deliver.
And while our business is designed to be flexible in serving our clients’ various needs, our general approach is grounded in some fundamental principals of how we work with clients and with each other. That’s why our approach page is focused more on a values-based philosophy than on process. As you’ll see collaboration, respect, and optimism define how we work as much as our commitment to right-sizing teams and project-based relationships. In our experience, all of these ideas are critical to great, fulfilling work for our clients and our team. And yeah, we’re inspired by a diverse group of thinkers, from Ralph Waldo Emerson to Rihanna – sorry Jim Collins, you didn’t make the page… Speaking of our team, you’ll notice that the collective isn’t huge. When we talk about altr’s growth, people’s first question is often “how big is your team now?” and with respect, we’d counter that that’s a dated way of measuring growth and frankly part of the problem that is plaguing so many agencies today. At altr, we’ve been measuring growth through new client wins, new requests from existing clients, and most importantly, the impact of our work on our clients’ businesses. As we’ve grown the business, our staff has certainly grown, but more important than that, we’re staffed with an incredibly talented, effective, and efficient group of people, people who embrace diverse challenges and who are inspired with real ownership of the work that altr delivers. Further, our collective model allows us to scale up in certain disciplines as the work demands without placing the burden of an overstaffed organization on our clients.
Our new site reflects the changes we’ve experienced over the past four years. When we founded altr, the collective idea was completely new (in fact the best corollary we could find was in Hollywood’s old studio system) – now a number of shops are embracing it, from established leaders like IDEO to new organizations (including a few called “collective”). When we founded altr, our work leaned more towards marketing and communications – but as we’ve grown product design now constitutes the majority of our work. When we founded altr, we suspected there were more people like us: “creatives” who thought strategically, strategy folks who thought creatively, people who got off on creating clarity and simplicity in the midst of complexity, people with the confidence, curiosity, and respect to always listen, to never stop learning. Now, four years later, we know they are out there and we work with many of them here at altr. The world will keep changing and we’ll keep changing too – always trying to be a step or two ahead. Always working to design the future every day.