“Crowdsourcing” design is the process of enlisting a pool of volunteers to come up with solutions to a specific design and marketing problem. The buyer writes a brief, submits it to everyone in the pool, then takes a look at what they come up with. They choose the solution they like best and pay the volunteer who provided it—one contributor is rewarded, the rest go away empty-handed.
Please note that I did not call the volunteers “designers.” they are not. If they were they’d understand that crowdsourcing ignores the very core practices necessary to produce real, practical, professional design and marketing solutions (there is no such thing as commercial design without a marketing component—at least there shouldn’t be). Occasionally, someone might stumble on a reasonable solution, but even then, the client never learns how a professionally executed, researched solution might have performed (or what it might have looked like).
Don’t let anyone tell you different—graphic design and marketing are complex disciplines. You’ve got to learn about your clients business, distinguish it from its competition, and do it within the context of a specific market, at a particular place and time, and within the bounds of the client’s resources and its ability to perform. If you think you can do that responsibly under the flimsy framework of crowdsourcing, you’re delusional—I do not use that word lightly, I mean you are delusional—meaning you are literally acting under a false belief.
The excuse is often, of course, “I can’t afford it” or “I don’t have the time,” to which I respond: Creating a great product or service is half the battle. Without a plan for finding customers, telling your story, and making a compelling offer, you’re dead in the water.
Crowdsourcing is for those who believe marketing is an afterthought and branding is merely aesthetics. For that reason, those who participate in it—designer or client— are amateurs.
I welcome your thoughts.