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Nine of the world’s top 10 brands are crowdsourcing. So umm… what are you waiting for?

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At Interbrand, there are 3 factors considered in assessing brand value. The first is the brand’s financial performance. The second is its influence on customer choice and lastly, the strength of the brand relative to competition.

With this in mind, the world’s top 10 brands should come as no surprise – Coca Cola, Apple, IBM, Google, Microsoft, GE, McDonald’s, Intel, Samsung, Toyota. Each iconic brand has carved its own distinctive path to brand differentiation.

But did you know that 9 out of these top 10 have used crowdsourcing to get there?

This age of digital technology keeps us connected to friends, families, work, and even our favourite brands 24/7. It is an age where businesses that do not actively engage with customers are quickly forgotten.

Crowdsourcing has become one of the most effective means of cultivating this connection between individuals and brands. It not only enables individuals to actively engage with a brand, but also provides businesses with an opportunity to tap into the knowledge, skills and creativity of a massive network of potential brand advocates.

The world’s top brands use crowdsourcing to collect feedback which improves their existing products and services.

How do brands collect feedback with crowdsourcing?

Microsoft has used crowdsourcing to gather feedback and A/B test changes to its Bing search product for years. Using Lionbridge, crowdsourcing has become a critical way that Microsoft collects user input for product development in a broad and scalable fashion.

Google uses crowdsourcing to help fill in the gaps left by conventional approaches in Google Maps. Currently, Google is collecting data from citizens of North Korea to increase the accuracy and completeness of its local maps.

Crowdsourcing also generates new ideas. In addition to capturing feedback on existing offers, crowdsourcing has helped the world’s leading brands drive product innovation.

How do brands use crowdsourcing in product innovation?

IBM has been using idea “Jams” since 2001 to crowdsource potential product innovations. The Innovation Jam in 2006 involved over 150,000 people from around the world. These Innovation Jams ultimately led to 10 new IBM businesses being created, for which, roughly $100 million in seed funding was raised.

Last year, McDonald’s tapped their German customers to create new product ideas using an online burger creator. Roughly 300,000 new recipes were created and over 5 million people voted for their favourite, culminating in the launch of the Pretzelnator.

In 2010, Toyota asked the public for ideas on using Toyota auto technology to benefit society. Only this month GE announced a partnership with Quirky to crowdsource ideas for new consumer products. The deal will see GE share the revenue of any new products directly with the inventors themselves.

Crowdsourcing can turbo-charge marketing efforts, providing companies with the ability to tap the skills and creativity of people that the business might not normally reach out to.

How do brands use crowdsourcing in marketing?

When Coca-Cola wanted some fresh ways to market their products last year they turned Eyeka, a co-creation platform, to generate new advertising creative. The project yielded over 3,600 film, print and animated creatives, with the winning entry used to advertise the product throughout Asia.

Earlier this year, Samsung teamed up with top fashion designer Alexander Wang on a unique marketing collaboration. Wang produced a new handbag design from crowdsourced images taken on Samsung’s new Galaxy Smartphone.

Similarly, Intel recently crowdsourced videos to promote their new ULV processors. Contributors created brief 30-60 second videos posted to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Two winning videos were awarded $5000 each – a fraction of the cost of typical product launch advertising.

Crowdsourcing works. You don’t need any further proof than this.

Chris McNamara is the Chief Operating Officer of DesignCrowd, an online crowdsourcing marketplace for graphic design services (www.designcrowd.com). DesignCrowd has over 100,000 registered graphic designers from around the world.

PS: This article has appeared here before.

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