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10 years of Thirst Creative

by Emily Thorpe
on 28 Feb, 2018 15 min read

“Every success story is a tale of constant adaptation, revision and change. A company that stands still will soon be forgotten.” – Richard Branson

This year, Thirst Creative celebrates its 10th birthday. A massive milestone for any business, but for us, it’s more than just a birthday. The last decade represents our journey of success, growth, triumphs and bumps along the way.

Born from a passion for meaningful design and clear communication, Thirst Creative was established as a one-man design agency back in 2008, by our Creative Director, Ben Harbinson. Two years later, his wife Angela joined and since then, due to their dedication, perseverance and professionalism, Thirst Creative has evolved into a full-service agency that offers inspiring marketing, branding, digital and design solutions to a variety of clients and businesses.

Read on to explore the ups and downs that brought Thirst Creative to where it is today.


A new venture

Ben Harbinson first paved the path for Thirst Creative in 2008, when he took the opportunity to venture out on his own after being convinced by two of his friends (both of whom were also named Ben) who had recently enlisted him to help brand their new businesses.

“They both encouraged me to go out on my own, so I figured it was a great opportunity to try working for myself with two clients from day one. Design has always been a field that I am passionate about as I get to apply both logic and creativity to come up with solutions.” – Ben Harbinson, Creative Director

Working from his apartment in Fitzroy North, Ben set out with two main goals; create great design and work with good people. From day one, Ben had two clients, one of which was Cube Group, a company (and a team of close friends) that Thirst Creative still work for and collaborate with today.



Two heads are better than one (pardon the Tassie pun)

Shortly after the establishment of Thirst Creative, the journey continued with the arrival of Ben and Angela’s first daughter Ella in February of 2009. They moved to a bigger, 3 level townhouse in Fitzroy North with a dedicated ground floor office. Ben spent the next 12 months juggling a new business and life as a dad, before Angela officially joined the team in 2010.

Ange’s main goal when she joined Ben, was to set Thirst Creative up for future growth by applying some big business work practices to a small business. She set about streamlining processes, creating marketing material and preparing for scalability. By combining their skills in design and marketing communications, they were able to position their business in a way that would allow for more diverse projects to come their way. It was during this time that Thirst Creative started attracting the attention of larger organisations, such as the Hawthorn Football Club, Newcrest Mining and Grant Thornton.



And then there was Cate

Having Ange on board as the natural networker, meant that the workload could no longer be managed between just the two of them. Ben and Ange put a call out for a full time graphic designer to join their small team and soon after, Cate Hibbins came to their rescue, joining the duo as their first external staff member.

2011 was also the year that Ben and Ange welcomed their second daughter, Isobel, into the world. This meant that Cate experienced a unique home office setup complete with two toddlers doing the milk dance while she made her morning latte. Thankfully Cate likes kids and we are incredibly lucky to still have her onboard 7 years on!


Spotlight interview with Cate Hibbins

Cate has spent 7 years with Thirst Creative

Cate is a natural creative making her an exceptional designer. She is our expert in print design, digital design, branding, publications design, stationary and infographics. Cate is skilled in creating highly conceptual solutions for our clients and has the unique ability to deliver lateral and appropriate work with fine-tuned attention to detail. Here at Thirst Creative, Cate has earned herself a reputation as the long doc queen who loves a mini-mock and bakes a killer banana bread! We are so glad that she is still here with us today.

Recently, I sat down with Cate over coffee to find out more about why she chose Thirst Creative, what she thinks of our full-service agency, how the industry has changed over the last 7 years and what she has gained from working here.


How did you first hear about Thirst Creative and what compelled you to work here?

Cate: I saw the job post online and really liked the look of Thirst Creative’s original website which had a lovely woodgrain background and some branded soft drink. The tag was something to do with ‘Creative Juices’! Meeting Ben, Ange and their adorable daughter Ella sealed the deal.


What have you gained from working here over the last 7 years?

Cate: Working at Thirst Creative has provided me with a very diverse experience. We have had all kinds of jobs and clients through our door, so the experience has been amazing. When I first started I had very limited real work experience but Ben was very patient with me and I am so thankful for that!


What are three words you would use to describe our team at Thirst Creative?

Cate: Our team is ambitious, versatile and imaginative!


Emily: How much has the industry changed whilst you have been at Thirst Creative and how has this affected the way that you work (then and now)?

Cate: Our industry has changed quite a bit. Work that involves design concepts for brochures, newsletters and other printed material is becoming less frequent and we are seeing a huge rise in digital work such as websites and social media. It is essential that I keep up with the latest digital and design trends to ensure I provide our clients with the right creative concept and solution.



Thirst Creative goes digital

In June of 2012, Ange and Ben knew that it was time for their growing family and team to move to Carlton North, finding a home office set up for a few more people.

2012 was when we welcomed our first Emily and our first full time internal Web Developer! While digital projects had always been a service offered by Thirst Creative, the development work had always been outsourced. To have an internal staff member for this purpose was a huge leap for Thirst Creative. A third designer was also hired in the same year, on a part-time basis, to help our small team keep on top of the steady flow of project work.



New opportunities

Early in 2014, Thirst Creative hit a digital peak! Receiving more digital projects than ever before, such as the design and development of apps which focused on improving user experience (UX) and creating a really well designed user interface (UI). This type of work required a lot more marketing research, campaign development and testing. These types of projects saw the scope of our work expand.

One of the most notable app projects that Thirst Creative worked on in 2014, was for Mobilyser. Mobilyser were offering a mobile expenses tracking app (for recording and taxation purposes). Our team worked with the client to produce a range of digital and print marketing materials to market their app which saw them go to many global events which included renown tech conference Gartner and The Summit in Dublin – for emerging technologies. Working alongside Honi Rosenwax, PR expert and communications guru, Thirst Creative were also able to get Mobilyser onto Channel 10’s Shark Tank!

Later in 2014 Trim for Life approached Thirst Creative help with their brand for their new innovative health app. This opportunity then morphed into a full project management and digital marketing effort with a full-time team of 8 staff to launch under their ambitious timeframes across Australia, UK and US. This project, involved coordinating with a PR team, developing two different websites and contributing to their social content. Exciting things were happening!

The same year, to keep up with the influx of digital projects being thrown our way, Thirst Creative saw significant growth with the recruitment of a Marketing Assistant, Administration & Accounts Assistant, Freelance Designer, Head of Digital, Social Media Manager, Business Manager and Digital Marketing Manager. Our fabulous Admin and Accounts Assistant, Heather Fox, is still with us today. To assist with the growth of the studio, our Freelance Designer at the time was recruited as a full time Junior Graphic Designer within a matter of months of working with us due to our busy project line-up!



Highs, lows and bumpy roads

2015 brought even more exciting projects as well as the arrival of the third Thirst Creative baby! Cate and her partner, Vince, welcomed the arrival of their first daughter, Joni.

Thirst Creative was fortunate to work on a project for Universal Studios this year, which involved the development of an online platform for auditions as part of their talent acquisition process. Universal Studios were touring the world looking for talent and needed a platform that would streamline their online application process and provide the technology to receive, review and accept audition applications from around the globe. Thirst Creative developed a custom Podio space and mapped a full email automation system to their bespoke audition process.

With bigger and bigger projects headed our way and one particularly large project for a specific client, Thirst Creative experienced massive growth. The expansion of the team involved the recruitment of a Head of Digital, another Web Developer, an additional Graphic Designer, a Social Media Manager, a Content Manager, plus a Copywriter and a Business Manager! Wow!

But, as does every business, Thirst Creative also experienced one of its most significant bumps in the road this year. After rapidly expanding the team, Thirst Creative took a blow when one of our ongoing clients entered administration. This meant that one of our largest projects was about to be terminated just as the new lease was signed by Ben and Ange on our current office at 196 Faraday Street, Carlton.

But onwards and upwards it was from there. Ange and Ben were quick to bounce back, keeping their team positive and enthusiastic about what was yet to come. The termination of one project opened the door for Thirst Creative as it meant there was now the resources to take on even more exciting projects and time to focus on our own strategy for growth, develop our new website and reinvent our marketing material.

It was a time where our team came together, sucked it up and pulled out some awesome work focussed on educating our existing audience on our new capability through our planned content strategy. Thirst Creative was absolutely thriving in the new office space.



Reinventing the wheel

With more digital projects flying through the door every day, this led to the recruitment of one of our current web developers, Brett Horan. We also welcomed two more new team members in 2016, Victoria Marsh and Emily Jones. Victoria originally joined our team as a Marketing Campaign Manager but soon progressed to Marketing and Digital Manager with her extensive skill-set. Emily Jones (the second Emily) was recruited as our Marketing Assistant and has since moved into an Account Executive role.

This was an exciting year for Thirst Creative as we began to re-focus on our own strategy. We knew that it was time to look at our existing service offerings and start to condense our lengthy list. Our team sought clarity by coming together to redefine our services and categorise them into Marketing, Brand, Design and Digital.

While it was easy to identify what we did well, we also recognised the need to identify services that we didn’t have the resources to deliver to the high standards that our clients deserved. These discussions inspired us to start forming strategic partnerships and alliances with suppliers such as videographers, photographers, public relations agencies, digital advertisers and sales consultants.

After redefining our service categories, Thirst Creative introduced a new service offering. Our strategy workshops were established in response to agile business and as a means of assisting our team in developing solutions quickly and efficiently for our clients. We also wanted to ensure that we aligned each of our clients projects with their strategic business goals and project objectives.

With a strategy first approach, we ventured into exciting new territory! With our strategy workshops providing a strong foundation for client projects, we were successful at winning some exciting projects with Mountain Goat, Carrington Health, MAC Energy Efficiency Group, Mailguard and Cica Group, supplying a nice a mix of marketing, brand, design and digital work.

Providing seamless mobile responsiveness, integrating social networks, improving and expanding upon the existing functions of our clients’ existing sites, our team produced some amazing digital products. We also worked on our first web app software project during this year with MAC Energy Efficiency Group – designing and developing a learning management system for the energy sector.



Are you ready for more?

2017 was a MASSIVE year for Thirst Creative with the recruitment of 8 new staff!

In March, our third Emily (me!) was recruited as Studio Manager and Daniel Adarve came on board as a Web Developer. In June, we welcomed Anthony Dillon to our team as a Graphic Designer. Simultaneously, Lucy Campbell joined our team temporarily as our very first Marketing Intern while Emily Jones travelled overseas for 6 weeks. After completing her internship, Lucy stayed on with us and is now our Marketing Assistant.

In September we had two new starts with Michelle Alexander joining our team as our first Account Manager and Kristina Dinihari joining the team as a Graphic Designer. In October our digital team grew with Jess Gunawardana joining us as our Digital Designer… and the team kept growing right up until the end of the year, when Carmelle Pavan also joined late November 2017 as our very first Business Development Manager!

We were also very fortunate to welcome our friend Anne Miles onboard for a month in September 2017. Anne has a wealth of experience in marketing and advertising and we were incredibly fortunate that she was able to spare the time to collaborate with us. Anne worked closely with our team on a number of different projects, mentoring our staff and working alongside the team on key operation tools.

It was also during this time that our strategy workshops led to the development of a more tailored framework for establishing core brand ideas for organisations. To test our own creation, our team dived into our own strategy workshop day where we established our own internal core brand idea. This led to the birth of our “more” concept (which you may have recently seen on our brand new website). This concept now defines everything that we do – from our relationships with our clients, the work we produce to our attitude towards new projects. We are a team that strive for more.

Our branding spree didn’t stop there! We also introduced our retainer service this year – to give organisations the opportunity to partner with Thirst Creative as an outsourced marketing team. Managing everything from strategy reports, social media management, website development and branding, our team now manage a range of ongoing marketing activities in collaboration with our clients.

Thirst Creative was also instrumental in bringing together our extensive network of partners to provide our clients with an event titled “If you build it will they come”. With a panel of guest speakers including Victoria Marsh, Honi Rosenwax, Tom Green, Matt Cummings and Chak Ng, the event focused on knowledge sharing and communicating the need to market your business for sustainability.

We also had some exciting client work this year with clients including Planum PartnersBrookfarm, APEX steel, Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, Tyson Stelzer, Trotters Bistro, Creative Victoria, Comdain and ASRC. From product packaging design, core brand ideas, annual reports to website development and design, our team had a variety of exciting projects on their plates.



10 years of Thirst Creative

While I realise that we are only 2 months into 2018, we have already hit the ground running. In just a short period of time, we have had a Digital Strategist join our team (welcome Emily Prust – our fourth Emily!), our new website went live (check it out), our brand new company profile went to print and we celebrated 10 years of Thirst Creative with a kick-ass party!

We were incredibly lucky to have some of our clients, Melbourne Paella Company and Mountain Goat beer sponsor our 10 year event, providing us with a delicious feast on the night!

Birthday celebration at Thirst Creative studio

Managing Director Angela at Thirst Creative presenting


And now… we’re here

What the future holds for Thirst Creative

Wow! Looking back and reflecting upon everything that has happened in the last 10 years, Thirst Creative has been on quite a journey.

We have witnessed some pretty drastic, yet exciting, changes in our industry – with a huge shift towards digital marketing. But with those changes, brought the opportunity for our team to think even bigger and outside what was design convention, giving us the opportunity to deliver exceptional digital work and overcome new obstacles. We have learnt to be adaptive and responsive to the world around us, keeping up with the latest digital trends and advancements to provide our clients with the best solutions.

The team has grown exponentially over 10 years into a multi-disciplinary team of designers, strategists and developers. Since the very beginning, we have always been a team that strives for more. Expecting more of ourselves and delivering more to our clients. We are a team that loves what we do and enjoys building personal and long-lasting relationships with all of our clients and suppliers. We now stand as a team of sixteen – an amazingly tight knit and collaborative group of professionals that share a passion for helping businesses grow and realise their creative dreams.

Our positive team attitude has, of course, been instilled upon us by our directors Ben and Angela Harbinson. Together over the last 10 years, Ben and Ange have built Thirst Creative from the ground up, a truly incredible achievement.

Angela and Ben Harbinson - directors at Thirst Creative

So here’s to the future! Another exciting journey lies ahead and I look forward to seeing where the next decade takes Thirst Creative.



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