The Silicon Review
Founded in 2001, The Mechanism is a true NYC digital design agency. With a firm belief that success in digital communications demands tighter connections between all media types, they utilize technology to develop authentic and affectionate interactions between human beings.
Immersed with, fascinated by, and driven toward the limitless possibilities of technology’s promise and bound by the glue of experience, their clients’ success has consistently driven The Mechanism’s success within the industry for more than 16 years.
In colloquy with the CEO: Dave Fletcher
Why was the company set up? How did you select the vertical and decide to be a part of the global platform?
The Mechanism was formed during a critical moment in the digital design and development movement. We believed that one element was vital to the development of any product from a media campaign to an augmented reality experience: Creativity. We bet early on that creativity would become the most prized asset of the future. My two original partners and I saw a flaw in the digital agency ecosystem, where a definitive wedge existed between the technical challenges of launching a digital project, and the vital, visual components that breathed life into human-focused user experience. 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, 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. Since our inception, we’ve always searched for clients that were visionaries in their chosen industry. This approach served us well and continues to do so more than 16 years later.
Tell us about your first product that was launched?
Our first project was a rebrand and digital relaunch for a Manhattan-based short-term turnkey office environment called eEmerge in August of 2001. I had developed a friendly relationship with the management of the space during my tenure as Creative Director for a San Francisco-based digital consultancy. When that digital consultancy closed doors in NYC in early 2001, I saw an opportunity to open an agency. Thanks to a clever barter arrangement between the facility and The Mechanism, we rebuilt eEmerge’s brand identity from the ground up, produced all their printed collateral and advertising, built and managed their website and all digital outreach, and functioned as a general creative think-tank for eEmerge as they grew their reputation in the New York City area.
What were the grounds on which you have expanded your company and its offerings over the years?
I’ve never taken on investment money or any other debt in the history of The Mechanism. As a result, there were many times that our staff received a paycheck, but I didn’t. It’s part of what you sign up for when you run a company.
When I see a good personality fit with the team, I figure out how to compensate them. Exceptional programming chops or creative process can be learned if they are nurtured correctly. True company growth and nurturing comes from internal collaboration, which is why it’s vital to develop synergy within the team. As for how I grow my team, I tend to focus on technological advances to drive company expansion.
What challenges did you face in your initial years? What can your peers learn from it?
In our early years, we faced many of the crucial business quandaries that manifest in many startups.
In the early days, we were fortunate to have a group of advisors that helped us to navigate the waters, and help us answer those questions. Our advisory board was all very successful in their own right, and their sage advice was crucial in our early decision making and success. One of our advisors in 2001 introduced us to Dr. Peter Diamandis, a Founder of the X Prize Foundation and many other successful scientifically and globally significant endeavors. From Peter, we later went on to meet Elon Musk (who, at the time had a team competing for the X Prize), and Sir Richard Branson. I can’t say enough about the importance of retaining relationships. Never burn bridges.
Where do you see you and your company a couple of years from now?
We will remain human-focused and technology-mindful well into our foreseeable future. We can never forget that on the other side of our client’s device, there’s a human being – looking to be astonished and wishing to be connected to something bigger than themselves.
A thumbnail sketch about the CEO: Dave Fletcher
For more than 20 years, Dave Fletcher, The Mechanism’s Founder and Executive Director, has embraced a wide range of media – including print, video, photography and interactive design. He has developed brand identity systems, digital design, promotional materials, environmental graphics, packaging and publications 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.