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Building a Different Kind of Digital Agency

How FortyFour found its footing

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When we started this journey five years ago, we really didn’t think we were starting an agency. To be honest, it wasn’t the intent. We had other aspirations, but we’ll save that for another post.

Once we knew that we were heading down the agency path, we took time to think about what we wanted to create. We didn’t want to just be another agency. We imagined something different, a company that valued real client partnerships — not perceived partnerships where budgets and margins are at the core — but partnership that results in exceptional work facilitated by integrated teams. We cultivated an agency with senior, hands-on talent creating the best digital products and services, where the managing partners stayed close to clients, and the work we created was paramount. We saw a need for brands to have a partner with expertise in designing, building, marketing, and measuring digital initiatives. We placed value on people, culture, transparency, and on developing long-term relationships.

We could have chosen a different path, but we chose this one.

We know. A lot of agencies talk about these ideas conceptually but we put them in practice. We started by eliminating the account executive position, we simply didn’t see the value in having someone make false promises while always trying to “sell” the next thing. We are independent and one of our three managing partners — sometimes two or three — will always be involved in the work. We focused on project management to give the project managers more visibility to all the projects, we hired the best and brightest talent to work with our clients to design and build solutions that have an impact. We put collaboration at the forefront of everything we do. We still believe that the team is better than any individual. We stay away from prima donnas and make sure that everyone is willing to do whatever they can to help their teammate.

Today, our team is approaching 50 people. We have refined our model and the areas we specialize in, including design, development, performance marketing, and analytics. Our teams quickly develop prototypes that inform our design decisions and provide early insight to the direction of the project. We create design systems that are extensible and can be executed across all channels. We always want to improve and strive to be better at our craft.

We also have one of the largest e-commerce practices in the region that delivers custom solutions for major brands. Although we can execute on many platforms, we have amassed substantial expertise in Magento — and today, we’re an official development partner. The same is true for implementing content management solutions. We are a certified Drupal professional development partner but we design and build on most modern platforms. We’re focused on building experiences, not just sites or products or campaigns. We challenge ourselves every day to create the best consumer experiences and brands — it’s ingrained in our agency culture.

Five years isn’t that long but it feels like quite the journey already. We’re not all grown up yet but we’ve grown and we’ll never stop learning. We’re proud that our journey has led us to be one of the biggest independent agencies in the Southeast. We still show up every day to do what we love, and we still aren’t content. We have our clients to thank for being so loyal, believing in us, and championing the work we’ve done. We have our team to thank for always pushing each other to do better.

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