At Huge, we have a guiding mantra to “make things that people love.” This applies not only to the things that we make for our clients and their users, but also to how we built and continue to evolve the agency. Our mantra might sound rather simple to some, but when applied properly, it ends up being transformational. How do you build something that is internally credible, externally differentiated, modern, and most importantly future-proof? The Strategic Communications team at Huge set out to answer those questions when we initially designed the offering and continue to answer it with our day-to-day work.
Huge was created as a small, Brooklyn-based design shop 20 years ago. The original founders were true pioneers (literally and figuratively – Huge was among the very first to set up shop in Dumbo), focused entirely on “user”-centered experience design. The firm has since grown into a global powerhouse, which has expertise in digital products and platforms, integrated campaigns and communications, and digital/physical places and spaces.
Although I wasn’t around to experience it firsthand, one of our earliest innovations at Huge was designing the JetBlue website. Until then, airline websites were largely “brochure-ware” and when you had the option to purchase tickets online, you had to run through a gauntlet of information before landing on the purchase page. Advocating for the user, Huge “disrupted” the travel industry by placing the “Buy Tickets” button on the home page. Today that seems quite obvious, but it wasn’t until Huge designed it.
I often think about that example because it’s truly evocative of what we strive to do at Huge, which is to answer the question, “what do users expect and need from a brand?” This focus is not only beneficial to users in the short term, but it also provides brands with a clear roadmap for future innovations and offerings. When you are constantly solving problems for your users – or giving them something of value – you are always “future-proof.” This is how organizations can get to transformational.
I was brought in to help build and to lead the Strategic Communications group two years ago. The challenge we set for ourselves: How might we create a communication offering with no legacy baggage? We knew that building a traditional communications offering was a fool’s errand. There are simply too many great agencies that already do that. So, we set out to unbundle the notion of PR, and focus on creatively solving client (and by extension, user) problems, in the broad sense of the word, through a communications lens.
As a result, our solutions may not be traditional PR solutions. At Huge we are fortunate to have many years of experience across disciplines other than the traditional PR offering, so we are always able to bring in the right tools and resources to solve client problems at scale. Our team is then able to credibly add “earned fuel” to the solution which differentiates our approach from typical communications agencies and typical digital/strategy agencies.
Transformation at Huge more broadly and within our Strategic Communications team specifically, is more than the solutions and results we bring to clients; it is also who we are internally, our culture. Our team members aren’t waiting for permission from a higher-up. It is very much a hacker culture in that sense. We are challenged to build something innovative every day and to prove ourselves, not only to clients but to each other.
This sort of structure and the kind of work that we get to do is ideal for someone like me who came from a PR comms background but who longed to evolve that work into something more modern and transformational. The Strategic Communications team we are rapidly building at Huge is exciting but hiring can be a challenge. Many top candidates in the communication industry continue to be focused on a traditional agency trajectory, so Huge may not be on everyone’s list when they are mapping out a career. Someone looking for the typically defined PR job or career path won’t find that at Huge, so we have to work hard to identify talent who can thrive in this kind of environment. For those who have an independent or anti-establishment streak, we may be a great fit.
To be relevant today, and in the future, both established PR professionals, as well as anyone getting started in this business, must be open to new ideas, have a high tolerance for uncertainty, and be willing to reinvent themselves when necessary. The best way to develop these character traits is to be intellectually curious and a little ambitious. The people we have attracted and the work we are executing here at Huge are proof of that.
To hear more, listen to Jason Schlossberg’s episode on the Agencies of the Future podcast.