The Power Of The Underdog: How Companies Can Stay Scrappy Amid Huge Success

Huge has blossomed into one of the largest and most successful digital agencies in the world, one that helps brands reinvent themselves for new lives online. Maintaining an underdog spirit (even when you're on top) is key, says CEO Aaron Shapiro.

The name used to be a joke. Back in 1999, Huge was just a couple of ambitious young designers working out of a small Brooklyn apartment. Today, the name carries a bit of irony, as Huge has blossomed into one of the largest digital agencies in the U.S.

The agency positioned itself as a soup-to-nuts digital experience service in an industry dominated by traditional “spray and pray” advertising techniques developed during the Mad Men era. The specialized niche grew quickly, and Huge landed its first big contract with Ikea when the Swedish furnishings giant asked the fledgling agency to redesign its website. Contracts with Pepsi, JetBlue, Samsung, Target, HBO, and dozens of others major companies soon followed. By relying heavily on traffic data and beta-tested designs, Huge garnered a reputation for meticulous and surgical rebrandings of established companies that continues to grow with every new project.

Hired as employee #10 in 2005, CEO Aaron Shapiro now oversees the operations of nearly 600 people in eight offices scattered across three continents. “It’s funny, I still think of Huge as an underdog,” says Shapiro, even though it's one of the most in-demand agencies in business today.

Aaron Shapiro

Shapiro has watched the company outgrow its headquarters and its anti-establishment beginnings, but he feels that maintaining the startup spirit is what allows Huge to stay on top of its game. He maintains a high-energy office environment that keeps the staff creative and competitive through endless prototyping and intensive collaboration. But most importantly, employees are encouraged to celebrate every big win like it’s the first one.

Bottom Line: No matter how big you get, maintain that underdog hunger

[Video Produced By: Shalini Sharma // Camera & Edit By: Tony Ditata]

[Dog Shadow Image: Flickr user Les Chatfield]

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