The media explosion has created a new borderless world, that of boundless information and unlimited choices, and has fuelled our need to create a distinct identity through self-expression. This new information economy has empowered us with the means to express our every thought, every idea and every point of view unabashedly to the world. If you can think it, it can be done.
This unprecedented access coupled with this growing desire to express has opened up newer and newer avenues to create. People are now creating their own content and are transmitting it, seeking to be active participants in creating the new. In doing so, they are coming together and forming new micro-communities solely based on common interests and passions. Companies, on the other hand, are largely operating in the old paradigm, wherein they still believe that they have absolute control of their brand and how it shall be perceived.
But the truth is that these New Age consumers no longer want to be passive recipients of the brand; they are seeking to be a part of something bigger, something new and something built for mutual benefit. They no longer want to simply consume their brands; they want to create them.
Fortunately, there are a few brands that have managed to tap into this new mindset and are leading the way for the others. That Barack Obama is a truly co-created brand is well documented. Likewise, idea sourcing has now become an integral part of this co-creation process, wherein companies are increasingly tapping into this “new global brain”. The Lego Group, for instance, has launched an online Lego Factory system where consumers can design and order their own products using a downloaded virtual design environment. Consumers can also browse and buy products created by other customers.
Danish Vores Øl (Our Beer) claims to be the world’s first open-source beer. The recipe and the entire brand is published under a Creative Commons licence—anyone can use Vores Øl’s recipe to brew the beer or to create a derivative. As long as home brewers publish the recipe under the same licence, they’re free to make money from their effort, which includes free access to Vores Øl’s design and branding elements.
From Nokia Oyj’s Concept Lounge (which gathers design ideas from the Internet community) and AB Electrolux’s Design Lab (an annual design competition) to Volvo Car Corp.’ Concept Lab (a computer-based design experience that features five concept cars), companies are now looking towards consumers for new ideas and fresh thinking and rewarding them accordingly. Welcome to this new era of co-creation.
Aniruddha Banerjee is president and chief operating officer, Publicis Ambience Pvt. Ltd
As told to Anushree Chandran.