Really. I mean it.
After being prodded by a few of my peers I’ve got to make a quick appeal – if only just to see what happens.
crowdSPRING is pretty awesome, but isn’t quite right for the level of brand development that professional organizations need. That’s one of the reasons why Stokefire stepped in and has begun utilizing crowdSPRING’s service and offering to manage the crowd sourcing process. We’re getting great feedback… but the solution doesn’t scale well, and the technical tools needed to manage the process efficiently aren’t there yet.
Among many concerns, the current implementation of crowdsourcing balances on the fact that the client knows what they’re looking for and how to communicate and interact with the designers. The creative brief is written by the client, and the creative community either has to follow it or risk being thrown out of the process by breaking the rules.
The unfortunate truth is that the vast majority of clients don’t know what they’re looking for, what they need, or how to communicate it. Any creative brief based on the client’s understanding of what can be done with their own brand is likely to be dangerously inaccurate, short-sighted, or at least one-sided. Crowdsourcing as practiced today can’t rectify this.
To compare… We hire a plumber to stop a leak. Rarely do we suggest that he might be able to save money if he used chewing gum instead of putty… yet when it comes to creative tasks via crowdsourcing the client is effectively doing just that – demanding things that no experienced professional would ever agree to provide. Creatives that don’t know any better will submit ideas that meet the client’s stated need (thus not serving him well) and creatives that submit ideas that actually serve him well will be ignored because they miss the stated objective. How is that helpful to anyone?
Here are a few reasons you might want to jump in and help fund the project…
We intend to work with groups like the AIGA and other organizations representing the creative community to understand their concerns and ensure that options are available that honor their key concerns. People shouldn’t have to work on spec – and our system will afford both designers and clients the flexibility to accomodate that.
As creatives ourselves we understand how creative projects flow, and will build the system to allow for iterative design rather than the current “my idea, my design, my money” model that everyone is using. The power of crowds isn’t in the sheer number of submissions, it’s in the crowd’s ability to produce a promising concept, and have it recognized and refined by countless other creatives.
Recent high-profile crowdsourcing projects have shown the current model doesn’t scale well. A $300 project may be fairly easy to manage, but when you get into more attractive design budgets over about $5,000 the sheer volume of submissions becomes unmanageable. We’ve cracked this nut in a way that not only solves the problem, but gives valuable guidance to those producing the work. (Today when there are many designs submitted most never get more than a low resolution peek from the client. Our system gets every design analyzed without making the client go crazy or blind.)
We also resolve the client education issue mentioned at the beginning of this post, we help art directors to refine their craft (and get paid for doing so), we have ways to attract A-list designers to participate, we can make outright copying of published work seriously difficult and unappealing, we match up the job with people qualified to do it, we help designers to improve the quality of their work over time, and even give real-world agencies a way to participate as both client and creative, making the whole solution much less threatening to old-school players.
With funding we could make it happen – or we could partner with an existing provider that really wants to get it right. Without funding? Well… that’s where we are today. With a crowdsourcing solution that’s busted.
If you’re a VC or angel with connections in the cloud computing or web services space and you’re interested… drop us a note.
In the meantime… I gotta go brand stuff, sans crowd.
And thanks to JD (most recently) and the rest of you for needling me enough to actually write this. Let’s see what happens…