Thursday, June 4, 2009

Three's a Crowd?


We all know three's a crowd, but can crowds be the new answer to innovation?

Yesterday I published a post on the right timing for creating, evaluating, and killing (if need be) new ideas.

Thanks to one reader, Sara, I learned about Quirky a community from the creator of Mophie and Kluster set up as a way for people to expose their ideas to a larger groups and get feedback (all for $99 bucks).

I think it's worth checking out.

My own experience with Crowd sourcing has been pretty positive to date. I used the website 99 Designs to create my Brand Twist Logo.

99 Designs let's you launch contests to create branding elements (websites, logos, etc). You write a brief, pick a prize amount, and for 7 days designers from around the world bid on your contest by submitting designs.

You have to keep giving feedback in order for your contest to stay healthy and attract the best talent. At the end of 7 days (some extensions allowed) you pick a winning design, release the money, and go through a file transfer to get the artwork.

While I know this site is not without some controversy in the design community...particularly because the prices are very low (the average for a logo is $300) my experience was very positive. I felt it to be in many ways very similar to the traditional agency design process.

Many of the submissions weren't very good, but a lot were. And the journey of seeing what I liked and what I rejected helped me hone in on what Brand Twist means to me as a brand. The tag line I use "a fresh approach to new ideas" was also an added bonus, it was suggested by a designer- unsolicited.

As in any design process, your output is only as good as your input so it was critical that I had a well thought out and well-written brief and that I gave continual, specific and constructive feedback to my designers.

I ended up choosing a design and a designer that I created a bond with (albeit virtually). Like most great designers he brought me ideas that went beyond the original brief and that I really liked. He also made some strategic suggestions that helped me in deciding which way I wanted to go.

The main difference, I guess, is that he was an anonymous face in the crowd and our whole relationship was virtual.

Only after I awarded the job did I learn his name and that he live in Greece.

Love it or hate it, I think crowd-sourcing for both evaluation (like Quirky) and creation (like 99 Designs) is here to stay.

The question for me is not whether it's good or evil, but how do we get the most value from it. Not in a monetary sense, but how can it best be leveraged to fruitfully further ideas.

That's my point of view. What's your twist?

How are you using crowd-sourcing?

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