Controversial crowdsourcing enters the design domain with new Kiwi-orientated service

The online domain has created a whole new portal when it comes to the dissemination of ideas and creativity. Crowdsourcing is one of the trends to ride on the back of web-induced capabilities, but in the design domain, it has proved controversial. With companies using it as a way to source, among other things, new logos, some designers complain that it undermines the expertise of qualified designers and design companies. But, like it or hate it, it looks set to stay and in New Zealand, it’s just received a boost with DesignCrowd launching a New Zealand crowdsourcing site, DesignCrowd.co.nz. 

The service has been created to help New Zealand small businesses crowdsource graphic, logo and website design projects to designers around the world and help New Zealand designers find work from businesses in Australia, the UK and the US. And with the increased economic activity surrounding that little ‘ole thing called the Rugby World Cup, DesignCrowd chief executive Alec Lynch said in a press release “now’s the right time to do business in New Zealand”.

“The Rugby World Cup is going to inject half a billion dollars into the economy and, normally, where there’s economic activity there are new businesses that need logos and websites.” He added that there’s been a “bonus” by way of an increased demand for logo design in Christchurch.

The New Zealand branch of the service will enable businesses to post design contests on the DesignCrowd site, inviting designers from around the world to submit designs and ideas. DesignCrowd said a typical logo design contest receives 50 to 100 different designs. With the designs submitted, customers are free to select the best design. The designer is then paid the lion’s share while other designers can get participation payments. If you don’t fancy any of the designs submitted, your budget is refunded.

New Zealand is one of the first markets the service is expanding to, as it seeks to increase its share of the NZ$2.5 billion global design market. Having originally launched in Australia, the company seems pretty confident about its growth prospects, saying the DesignCrowd.com site has grown 336 percent in the last 12 months and has paid out close to NZ$3 million to designers from Australia and the world.

According to the DesignCrowd website, to date 41,727 “top” graphic designers have participated, raking in NZ2,724,932 for design projects and contests. 72 countries have been represented and the average project features 61.3 designs.

We gave DesignCrowd a call to find out how the New Zealand operation is doing so far, and the potential impact it would have on design-specific agencies here, but we’re yet to hear back.

It may be controversial, but it ain’t new

If you think enlisting the greater public in the design process is something new, think again. The web may have altered its structure, but garnering public input in design is a concept that’s been in practice for a long time.

In 1936 Toyota held a worldwide design competition to hunt for its first logo – the same logo the company uses today.  A whopping 27,000 entries were received for that contest.

The Volkswagen’s logo was created as part of an internal office competition in the 1930s and Google’s favicon design was arrived at following a 2009 logo design contest. The winner was undergraduate Brazilian student André Resende.

Of course it can work the other way too. When Gap unveiled its new logo last year (bottom right), which was created by New York agency Laird & Partners, it was ripped to shreds by seemingly everyone and died a very quick death and Gap quickly reverted to its old logo. It was so bad, Ogilvy partner Diego Zambrano sent a tweet to Gap offering to do a new logo for free.

Having not found satisfaction from its agency-sourced logo, Gap turned to the public through tis Facebook page, saying:

Thanks for everyone’s input on the new logo! We’ve had the same logo for 20+ years, and this is just one of the things we’re changing. We know this logo created a lot of buzz and we’re thrilled to see passionate debates unfolding! So much so we’re asking you to share your designs. We love our version, but we’d like to see other ideas. Stay tuned for details in the next few days on this crowd sourcing project.

That comment prompted over 1000 responses from Facebook fans.

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