Soshal launches digital experience design agency

The Ottawa-based agency bucks the integration trend by launching Craft&Crew as a standalone offering.
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Ottawa-based Soshal is spinning off its digital experience design capabilities into a new standalone agency, dubbed Craft&Crew.

The new agency will offer a full suite of digital services, include consumer and market research, user persona development and journey mapping, product and service strategy, brand development and digital product design.

Soshal’s creative lead Chad MacDonald has been made president and chief creative officer of Craft&Crew, co-leading the venture with Dave Hale, CEO of Soshal.

Hale tells strategy that the nearly decade-old agency started getting clients requests for digital design capabilities about four years ago, and that the agency created a kind of “created a two-headed monster” in response. But he realized that out of Soshal’s current roster, only a couple of companies – Xplornet Communications and Realtor.ca – used the agency’s full range of expertise; the agency was dealing with either a CTO or engineer on the one hand, and traditional CMOs on the other.

What spurred the move, Hale says, was finding a way to better processes, culture and teams to handle the needs of the two kinds of clients.

“We finally decided to call a spade a spade,” Hale says. “As much as you might want to say there was some integration here, really they were separate entities anyway and we decided to make it formal.”

With digital experience services now living entirely under Craft&Crew, Soshal will now be focusing all of its efforts on marketing and communications strategy, media planning and management, creative direction and production and performance management. Both Hale and MacDonald will continue to provide leadership for Soshal, but a new management team for that agency will be announced in the near future.

“Marketers are getting tasked more and more with product design considerations, everything from the designing and building of websites, to who owns mobile apps and voice platforms within an organization,” Hale says. He says the jury is kind of split on whether that falls under the rubric of the CTO or the CMO’s office, and it could go either way depending on the company and the project. He says he believes the agency now offers the best of both worlds, and can better work with either type of client.

Like Soshal, Craft&Crew will be based in Ottawa, where it works for a roster of clients that include Colliers International, Running Room, Rakuten Kobo and TD.