BY Clay DillowThu Sep 10, 2009 at 12:12 PM
When it comes to game-changing ideas, is there really wisdom in crowds? Given several efforts at crowdsourcing creative content and product development in recent years, more than a few companies seem to think so. What’s less clear is why some crowdsourcing efforts are wildly successful while others fall flat. Vitaminwater raised the question again this week when it released a new „flavor creator“ app for Facebook, inviting users to vote for a new flavor and vitamin formula for a new product release, even offering $5,000 to the fan who creates a winning packaging design. The crowd gets a product of its own creation, and Vitaminwater gets a pre-approved-by-the-crowd product for release in March. Everybody wins, right?
Letting history be the judge, the answer is at best a „maybe.“ Doritos has enjoyed measurable success crowdsourcing Super Bowl ads with its „Crash the Bowl“ contest, notching the No. 1 most watched Super Bowl ad on YouTube in 2006. But a nearly identical marketing initiative by Chevrolet asking users to create their own Tahoe ads online turned into a forum for the anti-SUV set to bash the product on Chevy’s own Web site. More recently, advertising powerhouse Crispin, Porter + Bogusky learned the hard way that crowdsourcing can go seriously awry, drawing fire from its own creative community after issuing an open call to designers to create a logo for one of its clients, essentially soliciting free design work. So how will Vitaminwater avoid Crispin’s crash and burn and turn its crowdsourcing experiment into a success?
The greatest advantage of crowdsourcing is that it costs relatively nothing. While Crispin failed to recognize that crowdsourcing from a professional group–that is, asking people to do something they do for a living for free–would be taken as an insult, it did garner hundreds of submissions for a logo design, gratis (the winning design scored $1,000, a pittance for graphic work). In that sense, Crispin succeeded, but at the expense of its reputation (and that of its client, a major faux pas in for a company hired to build up brands). Companies like Doritos or Vitaminwater, appealing to non-professionals who are nonetheless experts on the topic (ask a child why she like Doritos and you’ll likely get a reasoned answer) for creative ideas holds far less potential downside as long as the anti-vitamin lobby doesn’t sabotage the project.
But the real difference between Crispin’s backfire and Vitaminwater’s likely success is what the companies are really getting from the crowd. The biggest thing Vitaminwater has to fear from its initiative is that the crowd won’t produce a winning product. When Crispin’s logo experiment flopped, it flopped hard. But even if its product fails, Vitaminwater has a catalog of other popular flavors to fall back on, as well as tons of priceless, free market data gleaned from the „flavor creator“ app that can be rolled into several future products (keep in mind, downloading the app gives Vitaminwater access to all sorts of data on your page). Couple that with the heightened brand visibility the app will create as its nearly 600,000 fans access the app and invite their friends to participate, and even a complete bust on the product development side becomes a coup for Vitaminwater’s marketing team, as well as for its product development crew.
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BY Joe DuffyMon Oct 26, 2009 at 10:01 AM
published at fastcompany.com
We are living in interesting times. Never before have we been so connected. Our ability to interact is nearly unlimited. Technology is a most formidable tool, the driver, a catalyst in the laboratory of life.
Designers thrive on the information available to us through this newly heightened era of connectivity. That said, information is not enough. We need inspiration to continue to stretch and truly reach our creative potential. I don’t believe that inspiration is sufficiently served up in even the most compelling office environments, nor among the most creative cultures. So we need to get out of the office. Design how you’re going to work. Dial it into the rest of your life and vice versa. Be purposeful about what you do, where you are, where you really need to be in order to be happy and productive.
What makes you happy? When do you feel most inspired? What is it that generates new ideas and fruitful energy in your life? Find those things. Nurture them. Respect them. Being someplace, like in the office, for appearances sake is futile.
When I am happy, I am more creative and more productive.
When I am productive, I feel accomplished and happy. When I’m happy, I am most creative. It’s a good, not a vicious, cycle.
Fresh ideas come from fresh minds. Fresh minds need constant and new stimulus. Sometimes it’s about escape–seeing a performance or experiencing fine art. We’re lucky in Minneapolis, I can walk down the street and take in live theater at The Guthrie or hike over to The Walker and view their latest show of contemporary art.
It could be about forcing yourself to see anew, with an open mind, like spending time with kids and remembering how to look at creative problem-solving from a more innocent perspective (my granddaughter Mia taught me how to loosen up the grip on my paintbrush).
It may be about finding the beauty and design inspiration in the constantly changing and renewing cycles of nature–get out and ride a bike.
We live in a world where burnout is rampant. No wonder why, when we now have the ability to be connected, 24/7. We have to ask ourselves what we want to be connected to. There have always been workaholics but today we see many of those behaviors shunned by a new generation of people seeking greater balance in their lives. We now have the ability to blend what we do for a living, what we’re passionate about and every other facet of our lives into a much healthier/happier life, a designed life. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had a bright new idea while sitting at a desk.
Now that we have the ability to dial up, to log in, to upload notes, and download drafts from almost anywhere, we also need to learn the power of powering off and shutting down to charge up, sometimes for a few hours, sometimes for a few weeks.
The business of design is about collaboration at its core. At times this is best accomplished face to face in an office setting. At times it will require working outside of normal office hours as we cross time zones and latitudes. It also will require the occasional all-nighter or the work-thru-weekend–it’s the rollercoaster way the business of design works. But these are all more palatable and have the potential to even be energizing if we realize the opportunities that being connected really affords us as creative business people. You shouldn’t try to achieve the normal 9-to-5 routine in an endeavor that is not conducive to it.
I look forward to going to the office now that I don’t consider it „going to work.“ For me it’s actually the more social aspect of creating design. Because I’m not going there out of habit or for the sake of appearances, it’s just another interesting facet of everyday life and it helps keep things in balance.
Balance = happy = creative = productive. Repeat.
[Feel the Music and Go Outside by Erin Hanson]
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Principal and chairman of Duffy & Partners, Joe Duffy is one of the most respected and sought after creative directors and thought leaders on branding and design in the world. Joe’s work includes brand and corporate identity development for some of the world’s most admired brands, from Aveda to Coca-Cola to Sony to Jack in the Box to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. His work is regularly featured in leading marketing and design publications and exhibited around the world. In 2004 he founded Duffy & Partners as a new kind of branding and creativity company, partnering with clients and other firms in all communication disciplines. Also in 2004, he received the Medal from the AIGA for a lifetime of achievement in the field of visual communications. His first book–Brand Apart–was released in July 2005 and in 2006, he was recognized as one of the „Fast 50“ most influential people in the future of business by Fast Company.
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