Design by Crowd

In recent years, a new concept has presented exciting alternatives in the world of packaging design: crowdsourcing. The result has been a boon for the industry, inviting innovative designs, new ideas and a diversity of voices to contribute to packaging aesthetics.

Jeff Howe first introduced the word “crowdsourcing” in 2006 to describe the act of a company taking a function once performed by employees and outsourcing it to an undefined (and generally large) community of people in the form of an open call. Buyers put a project on the table, as well as a monetary reward. People submit their own work or concept to the project, and the buyer chooses the one he or she likes best. 

Since 2006, crowdsourcing has grown immensely, and is now used in many creative contexts: rebranding a company, writing white papers, creating logo designs, presentations, print or online ads and, as mentioned, designing packaging. Today, when seeking out new packaging, rather than engaging an expensive design firm, a client can simply communicate, via a crowdsourcing site, the budget for the project and a “creative brief” describing what he or she is looking for, such as finding a package design that communicates the right brand image and encourages consumers to stop, engage, touch and buy. 

In turn, designers, sharing their ideas for the packaging will submit actual designs created in response to the client’s brief. Rather than sending out an RFP to three or five agencies, the result is often more than 100 submissions, all offering unique design concepts for the project, and the buyer chooses the one that is the best fit. In the process, everyone has equal standing, and the voices of independent designers that once were overshadowed by large agencies now have an opportunity to be heard. For creatives, that means more design opportunities for an array of businesses. For the buyer, creative crowdsourcing is quicker, less expensive, easier and offers far more choice than past practices. 

It’s a process that, through its very democratic definition, will lead to advances in packaging, thanks to the influx of input and the inevitable evolution that will bring. In recent years, as we’ve become more eco-conscious, our packaging has changed. Major online retailers have moved away from overpackaging and toward a minimal, sustainable approach to packaging materials and methods.

The music industry has moved away from jewel boxes for CDs to a greener cardboard package. Some milk gallon designs are now cube-like and allow for more efficient shipping and storage, while saving costs and reducing environmental impact. 

Packaging design can make a profound difference on the sales of a product and how customers view it. Excellent packaging should act as a sales board to advertise the benefits and attributes of a product and make it stand out from the competition. At the same time, that same packaging communicates a cultural message about what the company stands for. Is the company environmentally aware, cost-conscious, natural, health-centric or high-energy? Crowdsourcing brings more voices to the table, allowing the client more choice and insights while engaging designers – who are also consumers – to help shape the product’s message. 

In the next 10 years, crowdsourcing will continue to evolve in the realm of packaging design, thanks to ever-improving technology. New printing processes will allow for faster production, increased online communities will expand the crowdsourcing audience and new market research techniques will invite improved consumer feedback. As these forces make gains, the consumer will continue to have greater control over package design from conception to consumption. 

Check out our latest Edition!


russ blog ppi

Contact Us

Paper and Packaging Magazine
150 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 900
Chicago, IL 60601


Click here for a full list of contacts.

Latest Edition

Spread The Love

Back To Top