Respect Your Fans. Protect Your Brand.

A few weeks ago, Moleskine announced a crowdsourcing contest to find the next logo for its blog, Moleskinerie. While Moleskine is certainly not the first company to use crowdsourcing as a brand-growing initiative, it does seem to be one of most tactless.

The contest resulted in an outcry from Moleskine’s primary consumer base.  Designers reacted furiously to see a brand they’d strongly supported asking for spec work and expecting them to put their time and energy into designing a logo option for free.

In only a few short days, the Moleskine Facebook page became a forum for brand-trashing and a venue for sharing alternative notebook options. One of the most dynamic posts is a quote from

Let’s break this down. A logo done right will take many solid days to research the company, sketch ideas (possibly in a Moleskine product) before even opening up Illustrator. I’m going to be real conservative here and say 8 hours. Real conservative. 3,500 participating designers who spend 8 hours each equates to over 28,000 hours.

Moleskine will pay the winner €5,000 ($7,000). For this fee Moleskine will receive a staggering amount of artwork to choose from; the equivalent of 3 solid years from a single designer working 24/7. This equates to just €1.40 ($2) per design.

1 designer wins. 3,499 designers lose. Moleskine is the real winner here. If Moleskine redeems themselves by dropping this dreadful spec work competition I will continue to buy their products. Otherwise I’ll boycott. It’s that simple.

To make matters worse, Moleskine responded to customer criticism not with concern, but with a Facebook post expressing an unwavering commitment to their contest. Designers reacted even more aggressively, causing Moleskine to backtrack with another Facebook post apologizing for accepting standard contest terms that allow them to retain the rights to all entries.

Unfortunately, for many fans this was too little to late. Many others expressed frustration that Moleskine’s apology didn’t address their real issue with the contest. As one fan commented, “I don’t ask 5, 10, 15 contractors to build me a house and then I pay for the one I like best.”

Moleskine didn’t protect their brand. Every branding decision you make requires you to consider the effect it will have on your consumer base. Will they feel inspired? Indifferent? Important? Defensive? Excited?

You should already know the ins and outs of your consumers. If you don’t, start listening. Set aside time each day to engage them in conversation, read their Twitter posts, visit their websites. Whether you like it or not, the success of your brand depends on how well you listen.

Respect your fans and protect your brand.

(Photo credit)

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