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Designing For Good – Ben’s Story

As part of our Design For Good initiative, we aim to seek out and promote those that are designing for good. To shine a light on how creative innovation can be a driver for positive change and to raise awareness of the people and teams making it happen.

Next up, we’d like to feature somebody that switched up their career in the search of something more meaningful. Please meet Ben Akers, Founder at MADE WITH +; a problem solving collective of Writers, Directors, Designers, Producers and Artists.

ADLIB: For some background, what has been your career journey, leading you to where you are right now?

Ben: Well my career journey began when I studied Advertising at Bucks Uni. I then started the London ad placement merry go round.

My first ad was one of Silk Cut’s last (at M&C Saatchi’s) and although I loved the accolade, I hated that I sold out to something that I didn’t agree with – smoking. I got my first job at a small agency called Spirit, learnt a lot, how to push, how to not take no as an answer, how to make things happen. From here I spent time at HHCL, Mother, then BBH. I loved BBH but I wanted more from life to live in another country. So I joined Droga 5 in Sydney which was amazing. 6 years in Sydney. And it was while I was at GPYR that I started to fall out of love with Advertising. I couldn’t see the point. I needed to do more. I needed to be stretched again, there had to be more to being a creative than getting more money and winning more awards. I’d been lucky but I needed purpose, so that’s when I joined Republic of Everyone.

A sustainability comms agency in Sydney who introduced me to Ideas for Good. It was amazing. I wasn’t just being challenged creatively I was solving real-world problems that could just maybe change lives. Here (by the founder Ben Peacock) I discovered the phrase “Using my evil powers for good” So that’s what I did/loved.

My wife and I had our first child in Sydney, and we wanted more, but being away from the UK was hard so we returned home and went up North. We had our second child up there. Where I was the Creative Director of a production company called Chief. This is where I added Directing to my skill set of problem-solving. After a stint at Futerra in London, we settled in Bristol and My (Producer) wife and I Claire founded Made With +.

ADLIB: Let’s talk about Made With +. What influenced you to start?

Ben: Well it’s a collective of Good. RoE, Futerra and other great agencies had shown me the need for good people doing great work for good causes or companies. So that’s why I started it. To give me a space, a platform a way to work with people I loved (both clients and talented people). So Made With + was born.

It’s an unfinished sentence, it’s an approach of collaboration. I don’t have the answers, but together we can solve the problems. And I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the worlds most talented people so Made With is a way to bring all that together. People ask me what is it, well it’s a production company (SteveDocumentary.com) it’s a place to create projects like GoodfestCornwall.com or www.WeTalkClub.com or it’s away to work with amazing clients like Triodos, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust or Surfers Against Sewage (to name a few).

ADLIB: What has been the key thing that you’ve learned from designing for good specifically?

Ben: As creative people, we have a power. We don’t all realise it, but that power can change the world. So if you use it well, you can be the change you want to see in the world.

ADLIB: When it comes to designing with real (and life-saving) purpose, do you have a thought process or specific strategy?

Ben: It’s a good question that. To me, I look at my motivation. Why am I doing this? Before my motivation might be money, ego or Awards. With Purpose work it’s all about “is the juice worth the squeeze?” Is the time and energy I will need to put into this project succeed worth the sacrifice it will take. Because there will rarely be the money you need. It will be hard to do. But if you get it right, it will be worth it.

ADLIB: And finally, do you have one piece of wisdom for those that would like to use their talents to design for good specifically?

Ben: Before you begin any project, ask yourself: What does success look like? This will help you manage yours and others expectations. And focus your energy and time. A major problem with Creativity for Good.

As part of our Design For Good initiative, we hope to make a real impact. If ‘designing for good’ is also something you are involved in please do get in touch – we’d love to chat through how we could work together and lead by example.