Crowdsourcing’s Impact on Small Business Branding


Despite the cons, which usually come from established designers or other creative professionals who don’t like to work on spec, crowdsourcing is gaining popularity, mainly for the benefits it brings to small business owners, whose limited budgets don’t allow contracts with agencies.

These benefits usually include, depending on the crowdsourcing service provider:

  • No fear of going “over budget” since the price is set up by the customer at the beginning of the contest
  • No fear that the designer will get the money and then leave the job undone. The payment only follows if a winner is selected
  • Clients can provide feedback, request revisions and send messages to designers
  • Guaranteed satisfaction – the client doesn’t have to select a winner, if none of the designs don’t meet his/her expectations
  • All rights which subsist in copyright, patent rights, trademark rights, designs and etc, are transferred to the customer

When done right, crowdsourcing has other benefits, which are usually not discussed much. For example,, a San Diego based crowdsourcing ad agency, has recently hosted a design contest launched by Noodle Education,   a non-profit, open platform dedicated to connecting people to educational opportunity.

The contest called for photographs and associated captions from ad designers and copywriters, to be used in Noodle’s online and offline marketing campaigns. At the time of the launch of the contest, Noodle’s website was still under construction, and no one had ever heard of the organization. Basically, Noodle launched online through this contest, and although the press around the event was weak, and the participation less than expected, the branding value is undeniable.

Another example of crowdsourcing comes from Pepsi’s Refresh Project started before this year’s Super Bowl as an online cause marketing campaign that asked readers how the company should give away its grant money. This type of crow engagement is called crowdsourced philanthropy, and it’s been used by many other companies in the past. With this type of crowdsourcing, the brand benefits are stronger than organizing a design contest for example, because it makes people get involved in humanitarian causes.

Last, but not least, the crowdsourcing strategies with the highest brand benefits, are those where brands invite users to customize their products. The best known example is NikeID, a service provided by Nike allowing customers to personalize and design their own Nike merchandise.

These examples could be integrated successfully in the branding strategy of numerous small businesses, from mom and pop shops, to online businesses of all kinds. Customers like to be heard, and getting their feedback, in any form, is the smartest marketing move a brand can make.

[image by onedegree via Kiev apartments]