How Crowdsourcing is Sabotaging Your Brand
I see it all the time.
Well-meaning business owners asking for the opinions of the masses on their logo, brand colors, website, or some other part of their visual branding. It happens in many places, but especially in Facebook groups. I want to share with you why this is the very worst way to get valuable feedback on these critical components of your business and what you should be doing instead.
Why am I so against crowdsourcing?
Because the opinions of those lovely people don’t matter one hoot!
Because they’re not your ideal clients. (If you're thinking, “No, Michelle, that group is full of my ideal clients,” I love ya but please keep reading!)
Remember, your brand has two purposes: to speak authentically from your heart and to attract the attention of your ideal audience. If you’ve been here a while, you’ve heard me say this before: a noteworthy brand (the kind worth paying attention to and purchasing from) must first be INTENTIONAL.
Crowdsourcing feedback indicates one (or more) of these deeper problems:
1 | You aren’t clear on the vision and values of your business.
2 | You thought you were clear but are insecure in your conclusions. Trust me, if you aren’t secure in your own values, crowdsourcing the opinions of others will only further confuse you. I promise!
3 | You aren’t clear on who your ideal clients are and what is most appealing to them.
So how does crowdsourcing sabotage you?
1 | It's a waste of your time and energy, and I’m guessing that you may be running short on both of these already. The masses are fickle, though they really don’t mean to be. They usually have good intentions and are genuinely trying to help, but they aren’t capable of giving you useful feedback because they’re approaching it from the wrong perspective. They are outside influencers, not your ideal clients.
If you think that a particular group is your ideal audience, crowdsourcing is still a bad idea, and here’s why. By nature, we are all prone to “herd mentality” — that tendency to mimic the opinions and behaviors of those around us, whether we want to or not. Additionally, giving an opinion in front of an audience (even if it’s virtual like a Facebook group) inevitably clouds our perspective because we usually want to be seen as either a.) an expert (or at least someone worth listening to which can make us overly critical) or b.) your biggest fan (which makes us overly nicy-nice). You don’t need a critic and you don’t need a cheerleader. You need clarity.
2 | It means you’re trying to appeal to everyone, and you already know that trying to appeal to everyone will appeal to no one! The best thing you can do for your brand is to be specific and clear on who you are and who you’re reaching. Those are the only opinions that matter.
This means don’t ask your husband or your best friend, unless you can honestly say they would be the perfect client for you. Or ask to be polite, if you must, and then confidently go make the best decision based on what you know.
3 | It’s downright confusing and overwhelming, and those voices will almost always make you second-guess yourself. As a business owner, I know the last thing I need is more confusion. Can I get an “amen"? It’s like trying to cook a meal for your family that everyone absolutely loves. I may have two or three recipes that make everyone (mostly) happy, but usually I have to accept that someone will be disappointed. And that’s ok.
4 | It causes you to base important decisions on inaccurate information. Enough said.
So what can you do instead?
1 | Start with you! Be sure you take time to define the vision and values of your business.
2 | Define who you want to reach, and then shape your brand to attract her.
3 | In a very few instances, it may be helpful to test your ideas with a very narrow focus group. If you have a small handful of ideal clients (I’m talking about 2-4 trusted people) who you’ve worked with in the past or who fit the profile of someone you’d like to work with in the future, it may be helpful to get one-on-one feedback from them. Even then, don’t ask in a group situation because of that pesky herd mentality. Talk to each one individually and face-to-face to get the most complete and helpful feedback.
4 | Trust your gut! If you’ve done the work on #1 and #2, you’ll have a very clear idea of what your brand should look and feel like. If figuring it out by yourself is frustrating, confusing, or wearing you down, work with a designer you trust who can strategically help you through the process.
Facebook and other groups can be a valuable tool for conducting research, learning about people’s frustrations, and discovering how you can help. It’s also a great place to connect with and be of service to others. I've made some of the most wonderful friends and business connections through social media. Just be sure you’re using the right tool for the right job!