The story behind our crowd-sourced RAAK logo
So. That RAAK ‘logo’. Or all 12,288 of them.
We had a challenge, you see.
We needed to get RAAK up and running as soon as possible. After we finished our inaugural CanEUhearme project, we had new jobs coming in. And jobs require setting up a proper company. And proper companies require a proper logo.
But we couldn’t wait a few weeks/months on developing a full brand identity and spend lots of time (and money) on a full website design. We needed to get going now. So we decided to get a little creative.
Rather than tap into our network of designers or crowd-source amongst the design community (like BBH Labs did when they started up), we decided to go one step further. We would plug into the crowds big-time.
How did we do it?
Inspired by Aaron Koblin’s Sheep Market project, we got interested in experimenting with Amazon’s Mechanical Turk in some shape or form. For those who don’t know Mechanical Turk: it’s a website where ‘Requesters’ post little tasks that are more suitable to be done by humans rather than by a computer. ‘Workers’ from all over the world then choose and execute these jobs at the fee the Requester is prepared to pay. Typical tasks range from doing online surveys to transcribing a little audio excerpt. Generally quite mundane stuff.
For this logo experiment we posted a task on MT, asking ‘Workers’ to design one letter: an R, an A or a K. Just one. We’d pay 1 dollar. Which, we found out, is not a bad amount of money on Mechanical Turk. And we didn’t tell the Workers what this was for.
The first letter, a cute little ‘A’, came in a mere 15 minutes after we published the task. We were shocked and exhilarated. 4 hours later, we had our 40 letters. Not one of the ‘designers’ asked us what this was about.
The designs ranged from the ridiculous to the cute. From the blatantly opportunistic to the not-that-bad. 10 were not usable for copyright, technical,… reasons.
Is this a diss at designers? That they’re all useless? Not at all.
Is it meant to start a discussion about the relevance of brand identity? And the validity of an all-encompassing, everlasting logo? Sure, go ahead.
Is it ugly? From a design point of view, quite possibly. But that’s not really the point. Put these designs next to each other, add the element of randomness and you have a crowd-sourced, ever-changing mash-up of a logo, designed by 30 non-designers. How beautiful is that?
But above all, it’s our little ode to creative problem solving.
As everybody is talking about new ways of collaborative thinking, social media and crowd-sourcing, this was a good moment to experiment with the concept.
Also, as a new company, we’d like to be known for turning theory into practice in a creative way. And this was the most practical creative solution to get a relevant logo.
Anyway, we have another 10 dollars left on our Mechanical Turk account, so if you’re a ‘designer’ and would like to take part in this experiment, email us your R, A or K. Once we have 10 designs we like (we’re gonna be more strict now), we’ll set up a new Mechanical Turk task and tell you how to claim your dollar.
After that we’ll try and make a Mechanical Turk version of our ‘mechanical musical logo’, which you can admire in our little video. If you feel inspired, let us know.