Can you crowdsource a new logo? Coke thinks so

It is a logo that is plastered worldwide on cans, on drinks machines, and around major sporting events, but Coca Cola want someone to re-imagine their iconic logo.

What is more, they are throwing it to the masses and are going to crowd source the process.

The competition is going to be run in association with design agency Blank You Very Much, and is open to US residents only. It is a good choice of partner for Coke, as Blank You Very Much focus on reinventing iconic brands and symbols that we already know.

As the competition is focused on crowdsourcing the BYVM community, not Coke execs ,will choose the winning design. The person behind it will win $5000 and have the design put on a limited edition t-shirt. The idea for Coke is obviously to inspire their community to think about what they love about the brand and engage with it more, and perhaps make the monolithic brand feel a bit more personal for people.

Even though the new logo is going to be crowdsourced, the brief given is quite strict. Rules include banning the use of the colour blue and international flags, keeping the ribbon running  horizontally and keeping the bottle pristine. Coke also want to ensure that  the design reflects a balanced, healthy lifestyle and is targeted at a demographic of 12 years and older. Such tight rules do beg the question what is the point of crowdsourcing, but I suppose every design needs a brief and this method may get some more interesting responses.

Crowdsourcing pitfalls

This process can be a tricky one. Major brands have in the past hit problems when making dramatic changes to their image without working with the community of fans and customers.

Back in 2010 Gap ran into trouble when it changed its traditional logo. A new one never made it to the UK after an online backlash from fans. In response Gap tried to get people to post more ideas and suggestions about their imaging.

This just goes to shows what a powerful tool crowdsourcing can be. It can help get new and original ideas to emerge that a corporate brand just could not think of. As I said, it can also help fans of a huge brand feel more engaged with something that is otherwise distant and withdrawn. In an age of sharing, big brands have to include their customers, or have their customers jump ship.

However, there are surely limits to the wisdom of crowds, and some brands could get watered down if they follow this route. We expect brands to produce something we connect, not to have do it ourselves.

This will work well for a competition like the one Coke is running, but its fair to assume that Jonny Ive will not be crowdsourcing the design of the next iPhone or Mac Book Pro…