Moleskine misstep miffs most-loyals ~ Brand Mix

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Moleskine misstep miffs most-loyals

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.)



denise lee yohn said...

agree -- major misstep -- for the reason you outlined as well as because of what it says about moleskin's design leadership and authority -- shouldn't a company with such exquisitely designed products relish the opportunity to design its own logo?! -- denise lee yohn

Nick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nick Gilham said...

This is an interesting post, Martin. I am a recent convert to Moleskine and love their products.

In general, I'm not a huge fan of crowdsourcing because it feels lazy to me. If a company wanted to design 3 logos and ask their customers to pick their favorite, that's one thing, but to ask them to do all of the work is another. It is interesting to see how this has backfired on them since Moleskine customers seem to be some of the most loyal of any brand.

Cool Insider said...

Thanks for highlighting an issue that has people at both ends of the spectrum disagreeing with each other. Purveyors of crowdsourcing, democratised design and the whole wikinomics thing feel that you should let the audience decide. On the other end are those who feel that design, like any other profession, is best done in an involved, engaged and thorough process.

In this case, the users and fans of moleskin have made their choices clear: "we're professionals who do not take the idea of cheapening and commodotising our expertise lightly". More power to them!

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