“We select projects on the basis of their challenges and unique opportunities to positively connect people with one another.”
The Mechanism is an authentic NYC digital design agency, founded in 2001 on the principle that success in digital communications would demand tighter connections between all media types. Their mission is to help their clients speak to their audience with authenticity and empathy across all digital channels and media types.
The Market Scenario
Founder and Executive Director Dave Fletcher believes that we’re all living in an environment of unprecedented collaboration on a global scale. A groundswell of new ideas, tactics, tools, markets, technologies and opportunities to engage with an audience represents an extraordinary opportunity to connect and collaborate with like-minded creative individuals, companies and creatives from around the globe.
Dave notes, “Over the past 16-plus years, we’ve seen significant changes in the visual design/development sector and the clients we serve. Business (r)evolutions are occurring at a much faster rate than in the past, especially in technology. Deliberate and unintentional disruptions to the way businesses communicate with their chosen audience have ushered forth new ways of thinking about the direction and definition of branding in the digital age.”
“In many ways, these disruptions are a good thing,” says Dave.“For example, entrepreneurs, previously adverse to launching a new idea or service, are becoming increasingly unencumbered by many of the early financial risks included with a product launch. If an idea is remarkable and surrounded by a modicum of social media outreach and localized enthusiasm, the audience will not only help to fund a useful product or service, they will evangelize it to their personal social networks. This is the Kickstarter model – an upending of the business mindset – where anyone can present an idea to the marketplace, extricated by corporate interests or expectations. Brand “fans” are rebuilding the markets by themselves, not just the corporations anymore.”
Fletcher believes that as device power and acceleration continues to increase with programming and accommodating processors, so does the client’s expectations of speed-to-market. “Despite discussions surrounding the long-term vitality of predictions from Intel co-founder Gordon Moore (Moore’s Law) and more recently, Jonathan Koomey, for more than half a century the number of transistors on integrated circuits have been doubling every two years,” Fletcher says. “In digital design – web and otherwise, the increase in Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) have all decreased the expected time and expense for releasing a new or refurbished brand into the market. It’s becoming a vastly simpler, cleaner and increasingly cost-effective process.”
A candid Q&A with the key executive Dave Fletcher
What is your market position?
Organic, yet familiar digital actions solidify the importance of usability for the future of the technology spectrum. From software to smart phones, wearables, and the Internet of Everything (IoE), there is no doubt that everything requires a gratifying user interface. That’s where we come in.
Our experience is a differentiator which strengthens our ability to predict changes in the diversified, evolving business ecosystem. We closely follow futurist interpretations because we are engaged with its endless possibilities to enhance and help the planet and society at large. Also, our ability to work directly with any type of corporate entity or personality comes with our collective experience and fearlessness to take on any project that presents itself. I prefer to build relationships for the long-haul. Executives always move on to new endeavors and projects and have built a comfortability level directly with either me or my colleagues. These very intimate relationships, forged through trust, have served us well.
We’ve also been able to leverage our experience into mentoring opportunities with young entrepreneurs. Offering insights by residing on startup advisory boards, speaking at conferences and schools, and delivering occasional startup funding to up-and-coming companies is par for the course. These opportunities continue to create profound and longstanding connections and improvements to the global business ecosystem, which might not pay off today, but certainly have paid off later. Being empathetic, helpful and good to other human beings, despite the old adage that “nice guys finish last,” is not only an advantage, its part of our company DNA.
When we started The Mechanism, we toyed with using the tagline “From the Media to the Medium.” Drawing influence from Marshall McLuhan, who coined the phrase “The Medium is the Message,” we’ve always believed that a website is one thread in the expanding tapestry of brand expression. Everything begins from the brand outwards, and given the technological tools that were available in 2001 (and are available now) the implementation of an idea in any medium isn’t the challenge - it’s the ability to interpret and forecast the evolving variety of media delivery mechanisms - that drives real change.
What are some challenges in your industry?
The speed of technological advancement requires consistent oversight of change to be a good partner for our clients. Clients don’t have time to keep up with every nuance or innovation in the world of design, technology and programming. They simply want their online or digital experience to work, and to be presented with new choices that will help them stay ahead of their competition. Our internal mantra since we started has been to “generate the wave that others ride.” In other words, we stay far enough ahead of the curve so that we can be predictive with our design and technology solutions rather than play catch up.
One of our crucial jobs as digital creative consultants is to help company leadership and their marketing teams understand as much as they can about the human beings they are reaching out to with their brand identity. No matter the size of our client engagement, their audience is always the gauge and the most important thing to focus on. First, we need to know what the audience wants and expects, and not what the leadership expects. It is a tough pill to swallow at times, because when you are working with large companies, there tend to be large egos involved at the top. There is nothing wrong with that, of course. It is definitely a large part of how they achieved success in the first place. Once we understand their audience fully, we can then examine industry trends and data, understand the CEO’s vision and investigate all of the things that are a part the brand or company. By looking at the audience first, we tend to find very useful information.
Digital security and privacy are immediate and ongoing concerns as well. We collaborate and communicate with our hosting and security partners, who are the best in the business – to present the safest possible options and advice in the digital space.
What are the products and services you provide?
The Mechanism has designed and deployed visual identities and brands for Fortune 500’s, SMEs, tech startups, marketing firms, government agencies and entrepreneurs. We’ve worked in collaboration with our network of creative and technical partners to develop complex, mobile-first websites and online applications; devised and executed social media strategies; designed and built unique tablet-based training tools for the pharmaceutical industry, and mobile apps for Grammy-nominated bands.
We utilize technology to develop authentic and affectionate interactions between human beings. We design, develop and deploy brand-centralized connections between an audience who wishes to engage with a brand, individual or product – and the people that manage a company or a brand. We solve creative and user interface challenges for our clients, directly related to how their visual identity communicates with their clients, both in the digital space and in the physical world.
Why did you incept this company?
My two original partners and I saw a flaw in the early digital agency ecosystem in 2001. A definitive wedge existed between the technical challenges of launching a digital project, and the visual components that breathed life into human-focused user experience. After all, whether it’s an app, a website or another hybrid interface, ultimately, there’s a human being on the other side looking to build an enduring, relevant relationship with a brand, individual or product.
Most agencies in the late 90s and early 2000s did one thing well; either they could develop a corporate identity or brand mark, or they could launch an online interface to represent a realized brand mark. In 2001, the dot-com bubble had also begun to rupture, and we firmly believed that a company’s entire brand DNA, not just a digital manifestation of that brand, was our sweet spot. We originally focused on developing visual harmony outwards into a variety of messaging channels, from online to print. We also found ourselves embracing myriad client verticals, focusing our attention on learning as much as we could about our client’s clients, and utilizing that information to better serve them through useful, authentically branded relationships.
The Mechanism began to come together in mid-2001. I had developed a friendly relationship with the management of a Manhattan-based short-term turnkey office environment during my tenure as Creative Director for another San Francisco-based digital agency.
Some of many happy customers
“Dave and his team at The Mechanism really introduced some much needed energy and a fresh perspective and are easily the best vendor we have worked with in many years. It was very evident how far ahead they were compared to other vendors from a technological capabilities and implementation standpoint. At a larger company you tend to fall back on the same vendors over and over, which no doubt happened to us. Before you know it years have passed and what was once cutting edge becomes obsolete. I know with the utmost of confidence that will never happen working with The Mechanism. They are not only on the right side of technology and development, they directly define it.”- Larry Cooney Jr, Manager, Internal Digital Communications,Medical Devices, Johnson & Johnson
“I worked with Dave and The Mechanism initially when we launched a rebranding of my prior firm, Malkin Properties and associated companies.
The Mechanism introduced us to the current state of art, literally and conceptually. As that firm became a public entity, he continued to service that need with a full suite of interconnectivity. When I started NHCohen Partners in 2014 I immediately knew to how to have the persona of my firm expressed with Dave’s insight and understanding of my business which entails some nuances because it is an SEC regulated entity. In addition to becoming a friend and a great counselor, he maintains an excellent stash of single malt scotch.”- Ned Cohen, President, NHCohen Partners LLC
Meet the Master Brain
For more than 20 years, Dave Fletcher, The Mechanism’s Founder and Executive Director, has explored a wide range of media – including print, video, photography and interactive design, as well as developed brand identity systems, promotional materials, environmental graphics, packaging and publication designs for a global list of clients.
A visionary in the interactive design profession, Dave has earned recognition from creative associations and publications including: AIGA, The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), HOW Magazine, and I.D., the International Design Magazine, and his work is featured in several noted graphic design books and magazines. His philosophy of information delivery through the creative process has been discussed in both academic & international business publications.
Dave has been a featured contributor for HOW, I.D., and CEO/CFO Magazine. He has spoken extensively as a keynote and general session speaker, judged international design competitions, and has participated in panel discussions for the HOW Design Conference, AIGA, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), The Art Institute, and The New School in New York City.
Recently named one of “The 50 Most Creative CEOs to Watch” by Insights Success Magazine, Dave is a member of the board of the New York Metropolitan Area Chapter of the Internet Society (ISOC–NY)—the leading advocate of the Internet as a global communications infrastructure.
“Our mission is to help our clients communicate with authenticity and empathy to their users across all digital channels and media types.”