Thursday, November 4, 2010

Holding Off on the Design Firm Deathwatch

After carefully studying the business case for and value proposition of crowdsourcing for corporate design requirements, my initial reaction was this might be the end for creative services and graphics firms.

Six weeks later I'm now through an initial project with Chicago-based Crowdspring and pleased with the result.  The creative option we selected is professional, of the highest quality and right in step with the stated objectives of the project.

However, I am not quite ready to sign a death certificate for design shops.

That's because the crowdsourcing process has inherent flaws that limit its appropriateness for complex creative and design assignments, such as brand advertising campaigns and product packaging.

Here are a couple of observations:

1.  Make the creative brief as clear and concise as possible.  I've spent the better part of 15 years providing direction to creatives, so I felt confident in my ability to define our expectations for the assignment.

I missed the mark as nearly half of the submitted design options failed to follow the basic parameters of the project.  Was my brief unclear?  Or did a fair number of the creatives simply neglect to review it?

2.  Even with clarity in project direction, expect only a third of the proposed creative designs to be viable options.  For this reason, it's imperative that a high number of creatives sign on to participate in the project.  For our effort, we had 72 designs formally submitted for our review.

3.  Be prepared to provide feedback to submitted creative.  Sounds basic enough and it's important part of the crowdsourcing process as it leads to a more polished finished product.  It helps motivate the designers to deliver their best work. 

Yet, when there are more than 70 design options to review it can be overwhelming.  Plus, Crowdspring was quick to fire off a reminder note whenever a day passed without messaging provided to the creatives.

Ultimately, I do believe crowdsourcing will steal away a significant number of assignments that have historically been earmarked for creative shops.

When the stakes with a project are high because of budget invested and/or desired outcome, an ad agency, creative firm or graphic designer remains the way to go.  Crowdsourcing fails to deliver that all important face-to-face interaction and collaboration.


Anonymous said...

What was the design and how much did it cost? What do you think you would have paid a big firm?

Marc Hausman said...

Our budget for the crowdsourcing project was less than $2,000.

Two years ago, a comparable scope of work with a design firm cost us $21,000.

Quite a cost savings with crowdsourcing, eh?

Matt Kelly said...

Very interesting read. Having a set of expectations people can work for in the future such as you have outlined will go very far in improving the process for all parties.