Maybe I’m a bit slow, but I just came across the term “crowdsourcing” – the process of solving business problems using social media (not to be confused with another term I recently picked up: “FLASHMOB” – the process of creating absurd but strangely compelling YouTube videos with your friends).
The image above is from my experiment with one of the early commercial applications of the concept. 99Designs.com allows businesses to design their logo / business card / Web site by posting a prize, a creative brief, and holding an online contest.
In this case, I’ve challenged designers to tackle a logo for the BEGtoDIFFER brand. The results are mixed, but while there are no obvious winners in the pack yet, the results are really creative and certainly better than a lot of professional designers I’ve worked with for a lot more money. But is it an ethical way to secure creative content? I have two minds about it: 1) the client mind: great! Bring it on, and 2) the agency / freelancer mind: whoa, that’s undercutting and devaluing the industry!
As if to underline the difficulty of the issue, one interesting sideline came up in the process that illustrates both the risks and some of the issues involved in this process. One entry, quite a strong one, which contained a sheep similar to the one in the graphic on this page, struck me as oddly familiar, and upon some reading, sure enough, it is very similar to the sheep icon used by a 1.5 Billion dollar British ad agency: http://www.bartleboglehegarty.com. That’s not to say there was any plagiarism involved – far from it. It’s just to say that the onus is still on the owner of the “marque” to ensure that the final product isn’t going to get you into any trouble.
As a further cross-current, I found to my surprise – that the “research” arm of BBH, called BBH Labs recently commissioned its own crowdsourced logo from another site called crowdspring.com. Well, can you imagine the indignation from the “serious” design community when a big firm offers *only* $1500 for a logo…
Some industry commentary:
Reflection from BBH Labs on their own blog:
So how about you? What do you think?
I’m looking for comments on both the ethics of crowdsourcing professional services and on the logo options I’ve got in the hopper right now.