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Johnnie Moore is a marketing consultant and facilitator based in London. As well as 20 years of marketing experience he's trained in psychotherapy, NLP and Improv. Find out more at his blog.

Andrew Lark's more than 18 years experience of all facets of marketing, branding, sales and communications spans technology, Internet, telecommunications and consumer sectors. There he has led award-winning programs and teams for brands such as Dell, Sony, SBC, IDSoftware, Nortel, Microsoft and Sun. He is a thought leader and innovator on the convergence of brands, communications and social networking technologies. Find out more at his blog.

Jennifer Rice is a strategist and evangelist for relationship-centric brands. She brings 15 years experience in brand strategy, customer insight and marketing communications, and has worked with companies such as Microsoft, Verizon, Alcatel and Corning. Her current passion is exploring how brands are being impacted by blogs and other social technologies. Her company blog is What's Your Brand Mantra?

John Winsor is the author of Beyond the Brand: Why Listening to the Right Customers is Essential to Winning in Business and the Founder/CEO of Radar Communications, a consumer-centric consultancy. You can find out more about him at Beyond the Brand.

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« What is co-creation? | Main | The Brandistas are coming! The Brandistas are coming... »

February 10, 2005

More on co-creation...

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Posted by Jennifer Rice

We've been having a great dialogue about co-creation. What I love about blogging is that your feedback helps me hone my own thinking. I'd like to propose a tighter definition of co-creation:

"Products, services or content that's created by non-employees."

I think this definition helps distinguish it from customer research. Research simply identifies the problem that needs to be solved. Co-creation allows customers (or non-customers) to own a part of the solution. It's a form of outsourcing that involves letting go of preconceived ideas about our products, services, customers or industries. It also means loosening our white-knuckled grip on our brands.

Examples of co-created products are listed in my earlier post: open-source software, Google's API and Lego Factory.

Another example: media companies could use the co-creation idea by providing a forum where anyone can submit articles for publication... and instead of someone at the company selecting the best articles, they allow readers to vote on the best ones.

I'd enjoy brainstorming with you on co-creation ideas for different types of companies. How could a professional services firm apply the concept of co-creation? What about someone in the hospitality industry? Or a retailer?

Comments (9) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Co-creation


1. jennifer rice on February 10, 2005 09:16 PM writes...

One more thought: co-created customer service. Allow the experts in your customer community to help the novices; use a rating system to ensure that the good advisors are recognized. For a similar-type system, visit the Know-How Exchange on

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2. Parker Smith on February 10, 2005 10:46 PM writes...

This sort of reminds me of Slashdot where the forum is self-moderated by the users themselves. For those unfamiliar with the system, there is a good explanation over on the site in the FAQs.

The system has evolved over the years and has scaled nicely to the large community that Slashdot support. Users are allowed to judge the validity and quality of the tens of thousands of comments submitted each day. The ones that are scored highly bubble up to the top. The ones that are scored lowly are relegated to the bottom. It's largely self-regulating.

However, I think there is an important issue at the heart of Slashdot and other sites like it - the users who are contributing are passionate about the material on which they are commenting. Whether they speak about the subject intelligently is beside the point - they have an opinion and believe it's worthy of sharing.

Users aren't getting paid money so it's all about earning other forms of social capital deemed important within the community - which in Slashdot's case involves a mod point and karma economy. High karma and highly moderated comments lends social capital to the submitter. That social status in he community keeps that user coming back, effectively helping the community thrive. Behold, the power of the geek ego.

So I can see how this would apply to customer service applications - but it begs the question - do you have to have an installed customer base of fanatics for such a model to work? Would this model work for Nissan or would it only work for the Nissan Z?

What capital can users be expected to reap from spending their free time helping others?

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3. Bob McWhirter on February 11, 2005 01:22 AM writes...

I just touched on this topic myself on the Crossings blog in Community Itch Scratching.

I think co-creation should be differentiated from advanced users helping newbies, though. Certainly new users can and will benefit from the creations of non-employees, but that's a slightly different topic, since support activites don't necessarily create anything.

At least within the software realm, I don't even thinking rating and voting is necessary to enable quality co-creation. Simply providing the tools, resources and a location for non-employees to do their magic is many times enough.

People who create are often intrinsically compelled to create, regardless of any additional public recognization through rating/scoring systems. Removing the non-creation roadblocks (paperwork, politics, bureaucracy, chores) will win many friends.

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4. Wendy on February 11, 2005 08:16 AM writes...

Great ideas...I was over on Creating Passionate Users, another fabulous blog, and they reference John Seely Brown a knowledge management specialist among other things. I bounced over to his work and then found Steve Denning [] his partner, and found Steve to have great idea on how to co-create in organizations: retail, hospitality, professional, any...really just his way of thinking gets you thinking. I am a new fan. Take a look. You will like to too.

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5. PXLated on February 11, 2005 08:19 AM writes...

Making progress ;-)

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6. jennifer rice on February 11, 2005 10:00 AM writes...

Great comments, all! Slashdot is a terrific example of co-created content. Bob, I do think some type of rating system is important... not for the creators, but for readers/users (like at who might need help figuring out who's a "trusted" voice based on accuracy of information.

Parker, you ask a great question: when is co-created content appropriate? It has to be a subject that people are passionate about. I think most people are motivated by recognition... but there is a certain personality type that derives much satisfaction from sharing their opinions (bloggers, for example :-))

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7. constantinos d on February 11, 2005 11:33 AM writes...

some really interesting comments.
i think a big task is to delienate some of the key components of brand building so that "co-creation" is less of a confusing catch-all.

For instance, there are huge difference between some of the products and services that you mention (slashdot, lego). User-created content and customer input in the product creation phase really only have in common an element of participation. "Participation" is fine, but I think what is going on with some of the emerging technologies (online communities, blogs etc) has to do with an undertanding of the new types of relationships brands will have with consumers that can't be neatly summarized by "co-creation".
Accountability, transparency, engagement, empathy: these imply something quite different than some of the uses you are attributing to "co-creation".
Good start, but we should co-create a new co-creation ;)

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8. jennifer rice on February 12, 2005 12:36 PM writes...

Constantinos, great observation. There are a lot of new ideas and catch-phrases floating around, and we do need to clearly articulate how they all work in relation to one another. This is what I hope to accomplish through this blog. I love that we're all co-creating this new framework together!

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9. George Reavis on February 15, 2005 12:44 PM writes...

Service enterprises such as PSF's, Hospitality, or Retail are beginning to practice a missing-link in daily operations by developing a secondary asking process for frontline teams (units/stores) to re-ask customers, mostly non-verbally, the critical questions for "How are we doing?" in order to ensure their success. Presently the primary purpose is to involve, inspire, and self-motivate associates by providing them a learned and often missing feedback--that from their own daily activities. For co-creation, this process could also include "What do we need to do?" in addition to the how and be shared with frontline as well as senior level leaders.

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