Committing social media suicide by upsetting your most loyal fans is something of a trend. Netflix blazed a trail. And now it's Moleskine, maker of the "legendary" notebooks so beloved by the designers, following along.
With apparently no sense of a design community hot button issue, Moleskine thought it might be kind of cool to organize a competition to design a new logo. In other words, to crowdsource it. That's, to say the least, not going down too well with one-time Moleskine lovers, now turning into Moleskine haters. Here's a comment posted on Moleskine's Facebook page by Seth Johnson which is representative of the aggrieved point of view:
"Count me as another designer who has purchased and loved your products for years but feels slapped in the face by your shortsighted attempt to crowdsource a logo. No more will I be purchasing or using your products; no longer will I advocate for your brand."
Maria Raudva, in another post, points out that the inserts in each notebook say: "Moleskine notebooks are partners for the creative and imaginative professions of our time." She thinks the competition is more about plundering than partnering.
One way to measure your level of engagement with your customers is to see how much of their free time they spend with you on social media. Brands with strong customer relationships benefit from a steady stream of user-generated content that might be comments or videos or statements of their love and affection. That's probably what Moleskine hoped to tap into with its competition. But there's a big difference between giving up some of your free time and giving up some of your professional time for free.
Crowdsourcing has worked for some brands. It's worked well for Doritos who've used competitions to generate Super Bowl ads. I'm sure the professional community doesn't really like that competition either but they represent a miniscule part of the Doritos customer base. Not so with Moleskine, as it's finding out to its cost.
(If you are interested in a comprehensive perspective on rights of authorship in new media and how free contributions are leading to our collective impoverished future, read this interview with Jaron Lanier, published at Edge.)