How Huge Founder Aaron Shapiro Measures the ROI of Design

Six years ago, I launched a site to cover the intersection of advertising and technology in New York. One of my first profiles was on Huge—a small, red-hot Dumbo design agency that had worked on a mobile streaming app called HBO Go.

This past summer, I caught up with Huge founder Aaron Shapiro, who has since turned his small shop into a full-services operation with thousands of employees all over the world. Shapiro jumped into the hot seat to discuss how you measure the ROI of design, the biggest change in advertising over the past 12 years, and his favorite font.

Check out the clip below, which was created as part of our Accountable Innovation Series in partnership with Magnet Media, an industry-leading global strategic studio.


Joe Lazauskas: Hi and welcome to Accountable Innovation at Cannes. I’m Joe Lazauskas, editor-in-chief of Contently, and I’m here with Aaron Shapiro, the infamous CEO and founder of Huge. Aaron, thanks for being here.

Aaron Shapiro: Thanks for having me.

Joe: We got you in the hot seat, five rapid-fire questions. Are you ready to go?

Aaron: I’m ready to go, fire away.

Joe: Alright. So you’ve been the CEO of Huge for 12 years now. What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the way that brands tell their story?

Aaron: The biggest change is digital, right? 12 years ago people barely used the internet. A website was the one thing people did on internet. Now, you look at the Cannes entry, there’s not single thing that doesn’t have a big digital component.

Joe: What’s your favorite metric for measuring the ROI of design?

Aaron: Perhaps the best statistic that I can think of is they’ve done a study of all the S&P 500 companies, and they’ve shown that design-centric businesses have a 211 percent better return of their share price over time compared to companies that aren’t focused on design.

Joe: Favorite font?

Aaron: Huge avant garde. It’s the custom font we made for our logo on all our branding materials.

Joe: Nice plug. What’s one thing we’re going to be talking about here next year that we’re not talking about right now?

Aaron: To me the big thing is about the value of users. A lot of the stuff here are good communications ideas, but they don’t necessarily have value to the people for using it. To me, 12 years from now, people will realize how important utility is for marketing.

Joe: How long is it going to till you have another glass of rosé after this thing?

Aaron: 30 seconds. I saw it right past this camera.

Joe: Alright, fantastic. Aaron, thanks so much for being here. Enjoy the rest of your Cannes.

Image by Unsplash / CC Zero

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