Design By the Masses

As the creative director, I probably shouldn’t even be uttering the words "crowdsourcing" and "design" together. But at the core of any designer is the mindset that every pixel has a deeper meaning that perfectly defines the brand.

This sometimes painstaking process is always worth the extra effort once you've reached the finish line. But how can a mass cattle call for design produce the meaningful creative that's going to get results?

I’m very suspicious of this process, however, I cannot ignore the power of crowdsourcing either. In this digital age where peer discussions, reviews and blogs drive purchase decisions every day, I think there's a huge opportunity to use the masses for good, not evil.

Recently, I read a story in Metropolis where big box stores used sites such as to test public interest in new products. I think the overall concept is great. Quirky allows any wanna-be inventor an avenue to pitch a product idea. Once the submission goes into the queue, the community members get to vote on their favorite products with the winner going into production.

This type of social co-creation is a valuable approach to understand the unmet needs of the customer. It helps develop a deeper engagement and inclusion that's nearly impossible with traditional marketing.

Sites such as Quirky are picking up steam as they launch successful products. It currently has 352K inventors, 188 retail partners and developed 298 products in just three years.

For me, there is definitely a line in the sand for crowdsourcing idea validation vs. idea generation. I’m not saying ideas can’t be generated out of the blue. I do feel, however, sites that advertise 100 logos, in two days for $250 simply trivialize the creative process as a whole.

Truly understanding the strategy, profit opportunity and audiences is crucial in producing work that gets results.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw an article, "Crowdsourcing is Great – Except When It Fails." When crowdsourcing is done correctly, it provides an incredible opportunity that deeply engages the customer. When you fail to connect with your audience, you end up with an angry mob and a big PR initiative that probably wasn't in the budget.

Regardless of how you use crowdsourcing, putting yourself out there for the world to judge can be scary. My advice is to stand strong and not be intimidated by the crowds — embrace them. As long as your creative aligns with your overall strategic roadmap, any additional feedback will just make the work better.

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