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Avoid the Crowd

In: Business and Management

Submitted By ywjang
Words 1534
Pages 7
Avoid the crowd.
One of the myriad job requirements incumbent upon creatives is staying atop the latest trends and newest technologies. The longer I’ve been around and designing/writing – I’m a fresh-faced 32, full disclosure – the more I’ve realized that this requirement also comes with a corollary: Just because you can do something, it doesn’t mean you should do something. In other words, not every tactic that’s out there is either worth it or right for everyone (or anyone). Today’s tactic du jour that I hope to never hear about again: Crowdsourcing.
Before we go any further, I want to say what crowdsourcing is not. Crowdsourcing is not a blanket term used to define the many ways companies are able to actively and appropriately engage with their customers. Asking folks who own your product to submit videos about the unique ways in which they use it is not crowdsourcing. Nor is asking them to take “action shots” of your product in use that they would, in turn, post on their company blog. Just two of the many healthy ways companies interact with their customers, to say nothing of using social media outlets like Facebook or Twitter to start a conversation. For our purposes, I’ll narrow down what crowdsourcing is to this: Asking people to compete against each other to produce significant branding collateral for only the promise of pay to the ultimate winner.
Here’s how it works: Let’s say, for instance, a company needs a new logo. That company turns to the “crowd” – you, me and everyone else out there who wants to participate with the promise that, if chosen, there’s money waiting at the finish line. We submit our designs, the company picks a “winner” and they get the money. The company gets what they want, most likely at a very nominal cost. Sounds good, right? Some lucky designer might get a really prominent piece for his or her portfolio. The company gets new creative for a small price that also comes with the feeling that they’ve grown their brand by involving potential customers and, perhaps, fostered a grassroots vibe.
It’s fool’s gold. Crowdsourcing amounts to putting lipstick on the pig that is spec work. The AIGA, design’s professional association, defines spec (speculative) work as “work done without compensation in the hope of being compensated, for the client’s speculation.” In other words, not being paid for the job you do. Or, in the rare case that your work does make the grade, often being paid very little for it. What’s $1,000 to a company worth millions or billions for a logo when it would normally cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars if not more? There’s usually the promise of “exposure” attached to some crowdsourced projects (bigger companies) or “more work in the future” (smaller companies). But, last I checked, exposure doesn’t pay the mortgage and “maybe” is often just a delayed “no.”
Apart from hurting yourself by taking part in such a charade, there’s the reality that you’re hurting other creatives, too. Your participation in a system that so poorly values the creative process represents your vote for that system to continue in the future. Every logo or tagline you give away for free or cheap ensures that, in the future, creatives will continue to be expected to undervalue their work. And it also guarantees that companies will have a diminishing sense of what good creative work costs. One of the reasons that crowdsourcing works is that creatives allow it to work. We allow the mirage of a tidy payday to distract us from the fact we’re being taken advantage of. And if we as creatives aren’t more vocal about respecting our craft, how can we expect others to respect it? Or us?
Crowdsourcing is just as harmful to clients. One of the reasons companies work one-on-one with creatives/agencies is that not only are they getting a well-crafted final product, but also that they are benefitting from the in-depth research that led to that final product. Crowdsourcing doesn’t provide those opportunities, nor does it recognize the symbiotic relationship that exists between creative/agency and client. Our value isn’t solely in delivering amazing final products; it also comes in our years and sometimes decades of institutional knowledge about the client. We’re paid to know everything about our clients and to produce work that reflects this knowledge. You get what you pay for. And when you don’t put a proper value on creativity, don’t be surprised when the results aren’t worth it. Nor should you be surprised when the goodwill you think your decision will engender looks more like anger from those who recognize a raw deal when they see it.
Consider what happened to The Gap. When the company announced a new logo that was universally panned – often in terms unfit for polite company – they responded by abruptly announcing that they’d throw the design open to everyone, crowdsourcing their identity. The seemingly impromptu move, which they later reversed by going back to the original logo, smacked of desperation and was met with as much acrimony as was their initial redesign. In fact, when Mike Monteiro from Mule Design Studio penned an eloquent defense of good design in opposition to crowdsourcing and spec work, the link flew across the internet faster than the latest YouTube video of a kitten falling asleep. The Gap looked bad not once, but twice; turning to a tactic they didn’t understand only made matters worse.
The path forward is clear. Creatives, remember that your work has value. Don’t sell it – and your colleagues – short. And companies, don’t confuse active customer engagement with using your clientele as slave labor. Let’s agree to leave the crowd behind and do the kind of standout work that makes us all proud.

Final Examination Assignment: 2 page response maximum
The article above appeared as part of a blog written by a professional designer and is a critique of Crowdsourcing. Review and analyze the article and provide your own assessments of the author’s arguments.
In grading it is less important whether you agree or disagree with the author. What will be graded is the quality of your analysis.

Final Exam [Case: Avoid the crowd]
Joseph Jang
Crowdsourcing is a form of outsourcing not directed to other companies but to the crowd by means of an open tender (open call) via an Internet platform. That is, Crowdsourcing is the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from the crowd, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers. It is important to emphasize that the call should not be limited to experts or preselected candidates. In general, Crowdsourcing seeks to mobilize competence and expertise which are distributed among the crowd.

According to the case of “Avoid the crowd”, Crowdsourcing is related to “Asking people to compete against each other to produce significant branding collateral for only the promise of pay to the ultimate winner.” The author, however, claims that Crowdsourcing is not necessary and companies don’t confuse active customer engagement with using your clientele as slave labor. The reasons are as follows: first, a company gets new creative for a small price that also comes with the feeling that they’ve grown their brand by involving potential customers. Secondly, spec (speculative) work is “work done without compensation in the hope of being compensated, for the client’s speculation.” This means not being paid for the job you do, or often being paid very little for it. Third, there is the reality that you’re hurting other creatives and creatives will continue to be expected to undervalue their work. Lastly, Crowdsourcing is just as harmful to clients. That is, Crowdsourcing doesn’t provide those opportunities, nor does it recognize the symbiotic relationship that exists between creative/agency and client.

Even though Crowdsourcing has some few drawbacks, I think that it has many kinds of merits in fulfilling Crowdsourcing as it can cover its demerits. Above all, Crowdsourcing is very cheaper that other sourcing and it can get diverse ideas and solutions from the crowd. From a company’s perspective or stance, the company can save time and costs, and retain the potential customer through the participation of the crowd with obtaining diverse ideas. Also, from the consumer’s perspective, they can get a reward with money sometimes, show themselves in the market, and take pride in participating in the community. Like such merits, the concept of Crowdsourcing would be popular and diverse business model has been appeared at the same time. However, such Crowdsourcing has a few drawbacks. There are some reasons for these. First, we have difficulties Crowdsourcing in applying all kinds of business. Secondly, the crowd is not a expert, so it can be easily sued in group accidents. Finally, it is hard to be managed and sustain the relationship between the company and the crowd. For these reasons, some problems has been occurred in reality.

Crowdsourcing gets over the limit of creativity through the public’s participation and decrease the cost through open competitiveness. From a company’s perspective or stance, I think that it is optimal solution of the company.
As the author mentioned above,…...

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