In the wake of Gap’s recent misstep in crowdsourcing its logo, brands should be advised to tread lightly when crowdsourcing. Truth be told, there are some things that a brand should never crowdsource – like its name, culture, or point of view. But brands can incorporate the fresh perspective of the public without sacrificing its brand quality.
Here are five ways brands can effectively crowdsource:
1) Poll the crowd first to identify brand affinity. If you are considering a major brand overhaul, it would be fatal to do so without first gauging your audience. But try and do so early on, and determine if you need a total brand overhaul, or just some minor improvements. The age-old adage, “If it ain’t broken…” is totally applicable here.
When Time Warner Cable split from parent company Time Warner Inc., it embarked on a journey to find a distinct identity. [Full disclosure: Time Warner Cable is a client]. But after 18 months of research, the company decided against a total identity overhaul, opting instead for an update.
“We are giving ourselves a brand identity refresh… so you’ll see a new logo, new colors, new photography, new graphics, and a new ad campaign,” said Marissa Freeman, Time Warner SVP of MarketingCommunications in a video posted on the company’s blog, twcableuntangled.com.
“Most importantly, we are keeping and celebrating our eye and ear symbol,” said Freeman.
Why didÂ the companyÂ shy away from the overhaul? Through the extensive research, Time Warner Cable learned that there was a strong brand affinity among its consumers.
2) Involve actual designers. Crowdsourcing DIY-style to anyone with access to a font kit and Photoshop undermines the work of designers – and frankly, it’s not a smart way to approach your business. Ogilvy 360 Art Director Aaron Thornburgh, says:
“Crowdsourcing the effort to create a new logo devalues the design process. If you’re a multi-billion dollar, publicly traded company with stores all over the globe, why on earth would you trust your new identity to DIY designers who don’t understand your brand, business strategy or core values? The reason companies spend so much time and effort to create a unique brand is because it’s vital to the longevity of business.”
Even if you do not have the resources to hire a design firm or freelancer, you can still enlist real designers to preserve your brand’s integrity. Try using a resource like Crowdspring.com, which tends to attract professional-scale designers and artists.
3) GiveÂ your audience a voice without giving up design. DC-based blog and creative collective, ReadysetDC found a way to both highlight real designers and effectively crowdsource. Founder Justin Young and Editor Brandon Bloch recently ran a contest to re-design the tourist t-shirt, mostly because Bloch felt the current “I Love DC” design is just a hack of the “I Love NY” t-shirt.
Rather than crowdsource directly to the public, the Readyset DC editors asked a group of local designers to reinterpret the DC tourist t-shirt, featured the designs on ReadysetDC.com, and finally “crowdsourced” the selection of the winning design through an online vote. The blog posted a follow-up feature of the winning designer, Alex Slater, which soon after helped Slater get “discovered” by the design firm where he is currently employed. Win-Win.
If your target audience is involved in the process, they are more likely to be invested in the result. After realizing its mistake in leaving its target audience out of the decision, Gap very smartly hosted a new call for design submissions on its Facebook page, which landed them a post on Mashable.
4) Proactively seek design feedback. Instead of crowdsourcing your brand identity, consider incorporating product design suggestions from your target audience. Lululemon Athletica does a fantastic job of incorporating feedback from their customers, or “guests”as the athletic retailer refers to them.
Since the company was founded in 1998, it has posted in-store design feedback walls that invite its guests to share what they love or hate about the products. Store employees then email the responses to the corporate design team, who incorporates it into the design process. When the company refreshed its website in 2009, it announced an online feedback option:
“[F]eedback is so important to lululemon that we decided to add the option for our guests to add their thoughts on every product on lululemon.com.”
Just like voting on a design, inviting feedack helps your target audience feel more invested in your product, and ultimately, loyalty towards your business.
5) Allow your target audience to personalize products. Finally, there is no need to crowdsource your entire brand identity when you can give consumers an outlet for their creativity – and a stronger feeling of connectedness to your product- by having them personalize a product design. Nike ID is a great example of a brand that empowers its target audience to create by customizing their own shoe design online, which users can vote on, and even order.
Can you think of other examples of effective crowdsourcing? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Image/Photo Credits: 1. makeyourowngaplogo.com 2. Time Warner Cable 3. ReadysetDC.com 4. lululemon.com 5. nikeid.com