How PB Creative’s Core Values Paved The Road To Their Success

Branding Design

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Most people wouldn’t consider opening a new business during a recession. But for Ben Lambert and Pete Hayes, longtime friends and co-workers, they could see an opportunity.

“The climate was very challenging, but starting the agency at that point really did pay dividends,” says Ben, Co-Founder and Creative Partner of PB Creative. He and Pete, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, started the agency in April of 2010. “Our combined experience and intuitive partnership meant that we were able to establish long term relationships with clients quickly and work in a very nimble way. A lot of people advised caution, as the world was looking like an uncertain place at that time, but we actually felt that the time was right, and our hunch has paid off.”

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Ben and Pete felt that there was an opportunity to take a different path after their stints at larger agencies. While those organizations had incredible reach, they often worked in a rigid way that felt slow and unresponsive. They both wanted to approach each challenge differently, championing flexibility, and understanding that each brief and client is unique.

"Our skillsets are a perfect match, in that we are both product designers by training," Ben says. "During my career, my eyes had been opened to the power of seamlessly combining graphics and structural design, a truly holistic marriage. So, with Pete’s technical background and my graphic sensibility, we had a really compelling offer. We could do everything from strategy to finalization and everything in between."

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Although the size of the team has increased significantly (they’re now up to 28), their ethos has not changed since they first opened their doors a decade ago, something Ben admits he loves about the agency. Their core values have remained-to build a team with a rounded skillset, the ability to work efficiently, and the desire to develop long-lasting relationships with clients. So, although they’ve scaled up and can work globally with world-class brands, the heart of what they do has stayed the same.

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“We create a bespoke process for every project,” Ben says, explaining the design approach at PB Creative. They work with brands as big as AXE and as small as UK small-batch, handcrafted Rum brand Rumbustian. “Every brand and every project challenge is different. We set out to look for a unique approach to everything we do.”

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And that doesn’t leave room for laziness. A proven method and relied-upon structure make it easy to plug a project in and get something in return, but it doesn’t allow for flexibility. Instead, PB Creative aims to challenge every project they take on. They don’t mind the added complexity, though, because Ben believes that it produces their best work.

Ultimately, they say that they deliver “Beauty with Clarity.”  Nothing they design is pretty for pretty’s sake.

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“We live in an FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) world, and brands need to stand out in the space that they communicate in,” Ben explains. “So how can we succeed in looking beautiful while still communicating clearly with the consumer and not losing them on the journey? We coined the phrase 'Beauty with Clarity.' It’s how we win the consumer’s heart and mind. Beauty to seduce, clarity to understand.”

Consumers typically make decisions in a matter of seconds. A brand that looks ‘nice’ doesn’t cut it anymore. You have to know what to add, but more importantly, what to take away. “It’s almost a reduction,” Ben adds. “How much can you add before you lose the beauty? And how much can you take away before you lose the clarity? It’s a discipline we use in every project.”

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The solution for their work on anti-bacterial hand gel Carex, for example, may seem straightforward—turn it from a bottle shape into an ovular form inspired by its brand mark—but it serves the product and consumers in more ways than one. By delivering a holistic 2D and 3D design, PB Creative has taken the reins over the whole concept and achieved a potent branded solution. While the pack volume has remained the same (thanks to an innovative label area that extends over the cap), the branding area increased by 50% and is now positioned proudly at the heart of the packaging delivering a prominent consistency across the range.

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“It feels human,” Ben says. “It’s ergonomically satisfying, functionally superior, and has genuine consumer appeal while stretching the boundaries of what’s possible on such a small canvas.”

“Our strategic and innovative response to the brief cemented Carex's position as the premier sanitizer in the market by setting it apart from its commoditized competitors, while substantially improving the look, feel and functionality to achieve an almost jewel-like ‘covetability’ and hang bag friendliness.”

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As Ben looks to the future of PB Creative, he can't help but consider the current situation as the world grapples with a pandemic, but they've navigated uncertain times before, relying on their ability to adapt. That nimble quality that both Ben and Pete prioritized when they founded PB Creative back in 2010 allows them to pivot, ensuring that they work well as a team even when they’re not all in the studio together.

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“We’ve got a diverse team in a range of different life circumstances. I think that making sure that everyone gets heard, or their situation is understood is important,” he says. “It’s about listening to the human side of the people that work for you. We need to listen and make sure that we keep everyone fulfilled and keep that feeling of team togetherness.”

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Being flexible is an external and internal priority, Ben emphasizes. “It translates from the way we work with brands to create signature stories to decode their meaning and purpose into clear and engaging narratives, to how we work with each other during a lockdown.” While Ben can tell that everyone misses their studio life in London, their cohesiveness is propelling them forward into whatever the next few months and years may bring.

"If ever there was a time to be nimble and steer clear of laziness,” he adds, “this is it."

Go here to learn more about PB Creative.

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