How Creative Agencies Change Over Time

Written by Max
, tagged as #design

I always wanted to start an agency, and, in fact, I was running one as a startup for several years before I went solo. Long story short, I decided to figure out what has changed in the market. What is the most required service, and how has the current state of things impacted this business model?

Digital Agencies Tend To Be Niche Oriented

About ten years ago, you could reach out to a design studio or creative agency for a broad specter of services like branding and website design. Now it's not so common, and usually, creative companies provide a service focused on one direction.

It's more common now to find creative agencies with specific capabilities and concentrate on solutions in a specific industry or business area. For example, you can find agencies that provide services only to healthcare services, real estate, bloggers, singers, etc.

Creative Agencies Are Focused On Digital Marketing More Than Ever

I see more and more agencies covering a digital marketing business. The digital market in many areas is more saturated than ever before. Lots of businesses went online and it's important for a business to get their message in the most creative and loud way on the market so that it can be noticed by their target audience.

Agencies In 2020 Are More Eager To Hire Remotely

The creative business is something that, in most cases, can be 100% done online. So that makes sense for agencies to hire remotely and cut business expenses on office rent, management, and things like that. With the huge amount of collaboration tools, the work can be easily done remotely.

Small Agencies Are More Successful

There was a time when the market was dominated by 2,000 and more employee agencies, but this is not like that anymore. Unless companies like that are separated into tiny companies under the large one, and if they have a sharp focus on different aspects of a creative business, at the same time, they can utilize services from other sibling companies at least partially or temporarily.

Some Agencies Started Making Products Or Transformed To Consulting

The design, in general, is not something that easy to make scalable. In fact, if the main direction of your business is to provide unique solutions that work differently in each business, then each design project is different. This is something that's hard to automate, and as a result, it makes it scalable. Each client and each project requires experts and professionals to design and build unique solutions. Basically, you can't apply templates on each project that comes in unless these templates are highly configurable and something you can use partially. So that still requires a lot of creativity and collaboration work.

I know some agencies that started working less and less on client projects and instead started developing their products or consulting other companies to improve their businesses.

Creative Services That Were Popular In 2020

Digital Marketing

The most common services under Digital Marketing are Search Engine Organization (SEO), Social Media Marketing, Video Marketing, Email Marketing, Copywriting, Website marketing, and Paid Search Campaigns. Also, the latest popular trend is Influencer Marketing.

Branding & Strategy

Of course, new trends emerge every year, but the structure of this business didn't change much. The main goal of this type of service is creating and launching brands as well as rebranding for existing companies and products on the market.

Graphic Design

The broadest area of design covers almost everything related to design. Usually, the goal of almost any graphic design is to solve a problem by forming visual representations of ideas and messages. The process of graphic design usually involves illustrations, iconography, typography, and photography skills. I don't think it will disappear, at least for the next ten years despite opinions on Artificial Intelligence and how it might change our future.

Film & Video

A lot of content is now created in video format, and this service has become popular very fast lately. Mainly it intersects with Digital and Influencer Marketing but is mostly focused on the filmmaking process. For example, product reviews and/or presentations, guidance, sidewalk content, vlogs, and more.

Product Design

This one is my favorite, and I will not hide it. The main goal of this service is to create a meaningful well thought experience for users of a new or existing product. 

In other words, Product Design plays the main role in the creation of a new product to be sold by a business to its customers or fixing and changing a product so that it delivers much better results to its customers and increases customer satisfaction.

Usually, product design very often intersects with branding & strategy, and product development. It's no longer possible to build a successful product without the involvement of design thinking into it in such a competitive world that we have right now. 

Even indie makers that code products from zero to launch usually use at least minimal Product design, User eXperience, and UI patterns knowledge.

Still very popular but has become saturated with solutions and services on the market. It's really hard to distinguish a very good result-oriented Product Design service from an entry-level design service because usually, companies or clients that are interested in it are just starting out, and they want to cut their expenses on the start due to start-up philosophy. Probably, this is the main reason so many startups do not take off from the initial stages.

Experience Design

This is a more narrow-focused service if compared to Product Design, but it still covers a lot and can crucially change things for a business if done right. The main elements are more on the technical side and involve things like Research, Visual Design, Information Architecture, User eXperience, and Testing.

This service isn't going away any soon. Marketing is getting noisy in the same way as with Product Design, but only on a basic level.

Industrial Design

This is similar and can be confused with Product Design. However, mostly Product Design came from Industrial Design since mostly it was about physical products not a long time ago.

I think that Industrial Design is getting more popular these days because of a huge improvement and availability of 3D printers and services that accept 3D printing orders.

Of course, this something is not easy to start doing and requires to have a lot of skills and practice. And I think the biggest slice of the pie on the market is technological companies. So it's a challenging but interesting thing to do. Even simple products like phone cases and holders if done right with relatively good quality can bring millions if not billions to a business.

WordPress Website Design

It seems like WordPress Sites are not something that people do nowadays, but it's still a platform that people rely on for some reason, and not everyone can install and set up everything on their own. 


I think that the market changes each year. Some cool agencies and studios emerge on the market each year, and some disappear or downsize. Anyway, it's important to know what's happening, and I think for both sides: for those who need creative services and for creatives.

I hope this was an insightful reading.

Be creative!