Harnessing Crowds to Build Your Company’s Brand

Customers are more than happy to tell you what they want. Leverage "crowdsourcing" to build your company’s brand.
Latest posts by Ross Kimbarovsky (see all)

By now it’s fair to say most of us have heard the term “crowdsourcing.” Wikipedia defines crowdsourcing as: “the act of taking a task traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people, in the form of an open call.”   

One of the ways small and large businesses alike have been harnessing the power of the crowd is in the area of branding and marketing. Companies are now realizing that customers are often more than happy to tell them exactly what customers want and, at times, even willing to build it for them, too!

Crowdsourcing – Everybody’s Doing It

Companies large and small are turning to the crowdsourcing process to help shape their brand, position their services and even to design their products. Popdeck is a company that lets its customers design, and then buy, their own custom skateboards. Redesignme lets companies post projects so they can ask their customers to help design and refine their products. In fact, even large companies like Starbucks and Dell have started crowdsourcing projects to throw open the doors of innovation by letting customers have input on everything from store and product design to marketing messages.

Hundreds of Heads Are Better Than One

The reason this method is building steam is the simple premise that two heads (or hundreds, as the case may be) are better than one. While traditional freelance marketplaces have given small businesses access to thousands of providers around the world, all businesses get in return are bids and proposals.

But now there are a number of online services popping up that let small businesses tap into the collective power of crowdsourcing to build their brand. These sites aren’t simply freelance marketplaces. Rather, they allow businesses to post projects and view an assortment of ideas, as opposed to a variety of bids.

Two of the leaders in this space are crowdSPRING and 99designs. These sites give entrepreneurs and small businesses the chance to post design projects for everything from logos and business cards to websites and t-shirts. Once posted, designers from all around the world get to work and submit actual ideas for the buyer to choose from.

Take It on a Test Drive

When downloading songs onto your iPod, you always listen to a little of the song before you buy it. And when shopping for a car, you definitely want to drive it around, honk the horn and roll the windows up and down before you purchase it, right?

Well, why wouldn’t you do that with something that’s even more precious to you—your brand! Harnessing a crowd, or crowdsourcing, lets you specify what you want, name your own price, and decide the length of your project. Instead of sifting through bids and proposals and choosing a designer, you’re able to choose from actual designs that are created to meet your specification.

What Really Matters

Crowdsourcing allows small businesses, entrepreneurs and even large corporations whose creative budgets have been severely slashed due to the economy an alternative method to leverage talented people around the world to create and shape their brands. Not to mention, it’s opened incredible opportunities to creatives around the world who previously had few opportunities to compete in the traditional creative industries.

It no longer matters where a designer was educated, how fat their portfolio is, what their client list looks like, or how fancy their office is. All that matters is their idea and how well it meets your objectives in building your brand.

And for buyers of creative services, it is the idea that matters.

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