When I was a kid, my dad called me "Dub," or "J-Dub." These nicknames derived from my middle initial, "W." Not consciously aware of this at the time, but Dub was an indication that all was well between the two of us. Usually, I was referred to as "Jeffrey!"
This, although my formal name, was a warning. Usually, I didn't have a clue as to what I'd been caught doing, but I knew that it wasn't an act of charity. Much of our perception derives from personal experience. Even as little kids, we link words with past experience, just as I knew that my father's use of my formal name meant trouble.
Defining a person, place, or thing by a name is interesting because when nicknames are used, they indicate familiarity or an experience. Companies often rename in an effort to change their reputation, an effort to kill the old, negative, or inconsequential. However, a new name doesn't mean a new you.
Industries also slap new names on; one layer of the restaurant industry decided that "quick-serve restaurant" was a better definition than fast food and became the term to use in client meetings. Two popular crowdsourcing companies, GeniusRocket and 99designs, want the wisdom of others to help them rename "crowdsourcing."
The term, if unfamiliar, is "the act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agent (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call," according to Jeff Howe, author of "Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business."
According to the press release, GeniusRocket and 99designs have partnered and want to "further define the word 'crowdsourcing' and better communicate the power of crowdsourcing in the creative community."
The word, and industry, aren't very clear to the uninitiated, but the premise behind crowdsourcing on these two sites is much like an online dating service. A company needing a new logo can go to either site and set up an account. They then list the project, whether it is artwork, graphic design, copy writing, or site design. The companies set the timeline, write a "creative brief," enter their requirements (mandatories) and establish a price. After this, they simply post it, as if posting a position on a job portal.
The crowd responds and submits their work for review. Some projects are open (anyone can see a competitors designs) and some are closed to protect copyright and trademark opportunities. The benefit for companies is that one submission may receive over 100 submissions, each depicting a unique perspective for their business.
The business models for the two sites differ. 99designs is a matching-making engine, while GeniusRocket offers a deeper level of service and brings company and creative together, providing services similar to those at ad agencies.
Why the the new name?
GeniusRocket CEO Mark Walsh thinks the term, as it's used in the industry, is vague.
"We want a term that describes the power the global creative community can provide, not just a business industry buzzword."
"Are You a Dick ... But Really Wish People Would Call You Richard?" is the name of the dedicated site where the crowd can participate. Indicating that crowdsourcing, as a name, is broad, vague, indistinguishable, and too tight, they want participants to help them define their business, and industry.
"So here's where you come in. Think about who we are as an industry and what creative crowdsourcing companies aim to provide. Think about what we mean to the creative community and the businesses that use creative crowdsourcing. Then, give us a new name that better defines us now and will last as we continue to innovate."
If you're interested, submit an entry to Rename Crowdsourcing within the next 42 days. The winner will receive $1,000.