This month marks 2 years officially at the helm within Outfit.io. 8 years if you consider my time as the foundation customer / advocate.
It's been fun, challenging, engaging, and a learning experience you just can’t buy.
There's so much detail I want to share: new features, our revamped trademark (we even open sourced a font!). But I've been thinking about the broader growth journey as follows:
- Paid down technical debt
- Built new capability
- Learning from customers
- Focused on workloads
- Recognized our distinct value
1. Outfit smashed through technical debt #
Paying down technical debt is widely regarded as a forever game. So without going into the numbers, every day Outfit produces more creative media than ever before. There was once a technical ceiling to our success. Not anymore.
Outfit also institutionalized a wide variety of ad-hoc solutions and created a robust method for developing and managing so many brands. Thinking back 2 years, I couldn’t be more proud of the brilliant work done by our team. I use outfit every day, and every day it's faster, better, stronger.
2. Built incredible new capability #
To service leading brands, the quality and fidelity of Outfit's output must compete with (and in all cases beat) that of conventional desktop grade design tools.
We managed to not just create the highest quality web2x rendering stack in the world, we built ‘a new kind brush’ for art directors and operations leaders who live within an ecosystem of data and external marketing channels.
During these two years, a shift took place. Outfit's promise to customers became more than 'on-brand by default'. Now we promise to build brands better.
3. Got closer to our customers #
Outfit is utilized across vastly different challenges. We recognized early that customers were paying for much more than our knobs and dials.
These past two years I've been truly humbled with appreciation that we are witness to - and participants in, the success of incredibly diverse and dynamic brands. Sharing and collaborating closely with highly effective marketing teams has helped us champion meaningful guidance that ensures brand success - regardless of industry.
It aligns so well with my personal mission to do justice to good work whenever I see it.
This just makes me happy and I'm so grateful to every customer I have the opportunity to interact with.
4. Zeroed-in on the actual work #
Outfit has competitors that make templating only about the logistics of moving production work away from creative teams to external stakeholders. Moving the work on is a dopamine trigger, a relief for brand owners battling between capacity and quality.
We learned early that only moving work has become a cheap trick used in SaaS to get more seats or fuel a network effect that ends up costing businesses more, often creating more fragmentation - not less.
Outfit knows removing work entirely through augmentation and automation delivers undeniable ROI. And yes, the right person making decisions in context matters - they deserve superpowers, not more risk.
Speeding up brand production speeds up entire organizations. I felt this first hand as an enterprise brand manager. Scaling production is so much more valuable than just the output, it's about making work visible.
5. Recognized Outfit's distinct value #
Maybe it's part of the culture I inherited from Red Hat that strikes a chord with me, but I’ve noticed Outfit is different to most productivity SaaS: Outfit is not about lock-in. Not to our application, not to our services, and not to our broader technology.
The idea of forcing customers into a one-size-fits-all experience is laughable. Brands are intrinsically distinct, they thrive setting their own rules, software vendors can’t own that and are doomed to see churn once that becomes apparent to a customer.
(Shout-out to my old brand team) Enduring brands answer the question: “what must stay the same so that everything else can change”. Outfit is how those decisions become bulletproof. Sometimes that means being fully invisible to our customers processes, software, and experiences.
Not being so vain as to demand our capabilities be served just one way is the secret to our success and we’re just getting started.
Final thought #
8 years ago when I asked Outfit CEO Bruce Stronge to fix my brand fragmentation problems with some kind of turn-key software, what I proposed was next to impossible. Now there is a thriving market of competition validating that this is the way to successfully operate a large brand.
Not only do I think Outfit is uniquely qualified to be recognised as the leader in this space, I think it’s going to be a heap of fun watching it happen.