One needs to understand what’s happening in the world of design. Today and in the future. Here are the trends every design agency should know, before making any decision how to build their business. There are major shifts going on. Shifts that are permanent and not hypes that fade away.

Shift to digital

Graphical design as a business is dead. Yes sorry to say so, it’s dead.

The chances of any design agency to make a descent living with the classical business of graphical design is close to zero. Yes, I am aware of the few exceptions to this rule. That’s why they are the exceptions.

Digital design it is? Well, the best digital designs are the ones where the knowledge of graphical design is applied. As business I would not recommend a (stand alone) website building business for anyone.

Easy automation for brands. That’s what the clients want. Data that flows between their apps automatically, so they can focus on their most important work. Times change fast.

Shift to freelancers

There are two major structural changes in your labour market. The first one is that traditional agencies will not hire like before. They want flexible shells of experts to help them on a project level.

A major shift from the old ways, when they hired creative people to build an agency’s reputation and marketshare. The marketplace is simply changing to fast and demanding for particular skills. Agencies need to be flexible and adjust very fast to these changing markets.

Secondly agencies do not want to pay employees. They will not hire freelancers as an employee anymore. Employees used to get paid for their services and contribution measured in hours against a hourly rate. There is a fundamental shift, world wide, to transform this model. Design agencies search ways to pay for added value and results, not hours.

Shift to on demand

Netflix, Spotify, Airbnb, Uber and so on. Why are they so popular?

They are on demand. They empower the client. The traditional taxi drivers, television programs, music stations and hotel chains delivered their service to you when they had availability to do so.

These days are over. It’s on demand. The client is in control.

Not all design agencies benefit from this new kind of market behaviour. A lot of them are still offering their services when they have capacity. When they are on another  project, the new client has to wait for the expert. The client is not in control and not empowered. That’s  not a viable business model anymore. One can simply not deny the fast changing and huge demand for on demand empowerment.

Shift to business

Creativity. It’s not enough anymore. Every designer or creative needs to understand business as well. If one can not understand the business of a client, one will not be selected to do a project.

Ever asked yourself why clients do pitches? Immature customers ask you to do creative work for free. Stay away! Mature clients will ask you to present to them why you are the one who is perfect for the project. And in 90% of the cases the answer is that you understand their business, market and objectives!

Now, I am absolutely not an advocate for pitches. But you need to understand that clients want you to tell them, what expertise value you offer to fix their problem. And pitches are just another way to ask for it.

Benefit from it!

What do you need to benefit from all these fundamental shifts?

A business model that provides your clients with clipping levels of value. A dynamic pricing strategy and a focus on delivering value, not products. Follow me in my blog or on to find more inspiration.