Restaurants Embrace Crowdsourcing

 

The owners of The Thirsty Goat in Boyne City, Michigan, were confident about the ambiance and culinary direction of their full-service restaurant—contemporary American fare with quality local ingredients and a warm and welcoming dining atmosphere. But, after its June 2012 opening, co-owners Paul Michell III and Brian Asher were less sure about the logo for the northern Michigan pub/restaurant.

“We wanted the logo to be memorable more than anything,” says Asher, general manager/co-owner. “Along with being memorable, we wanted it to really convey what we were.”

The Thirsty Goat serves everything from soups, sandwiches, and burgers to specialty entrees, and the menu changes based on seasonal availability. Slate floors, exposed brick, wood-beam ceilings, and outdoor dining with fireplaces add to the social atmosphere of the restaurant.

To find an iconic image to fit The Thirsty Goat’s name, Asher and his team turned to MycroBurst, an online crowdsourcing platform for graphic design. The site, launched in 2008 by CEO Zaheer Dodhia and co-founder Joe Witte, has a community of more than 40,000 designers from more than 100 countries.

Asher was referred to MycroBurst by a former co-worker. He became a “Project Holder” on the website and was able to interact with multiple designers publicly and privately to find the beer-drinking goat that best suited the restaurant’s logo.

MycroBurst allowed The Thirsty Goat to review multiple ideas and develop more of a focus for their image. 

“We weren’t dead set on a specific direction, so the site helped us in picking a direction,” he says.

In fact, MycroBurst estimates that Project Holders will typically receive an average of 116 concepts from more than 20 designers in one week.

Project Holders can request a logo, brochure, postcard, website, business cards, or stationary. The five steps of a project for a Project Holder include choosing a project type, naming the project price (logos start at $199), filling out a creative brief to give designers some starting ideas, providing ongoing feedback to the designers, and choosing the winning logo after seven days. The food and beverage industry has been in the top 10 industry users of the crowdsourcing platform for the last five quarters.

In the early stages, Asher says it was helpful to provide feedback to all of the designers who submitted logos. Later in the week, the site allowed the owners to be more specific with promising designs.

“It was great to privately communicate the necessary finishing touches to the designers who hit the mark,” he says.

Being active in the process is key if you choose to crowdsource your logo, he adds.

“Give as much feedback as possible,” Asher explains. “The more criticism you give, the more options and better end product will come about.”

Branding an established restaurant:   

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Fiori D’Italia, a restaurant in Anchorage, Alaska, didn’t begin looking for its first logo until 17 years after opening. The full-service restaurant claims the largest wine and alcohol selection in Anchorage and offers American, Italian, and Albanian cuisine in one of the oldest buildings in the city.

The restaurant’s cook-to-order method and popular chicken formaggio have generated a reputation of food quality and customer satisfaction in the area, says co-owner Ylli Ferati. But its loyal customers have often questioned the restaurant’s lack of a logo, he adds.

Ferati chose to crowdsource the logo for two reasons: to save time and to have a variety of options.

“I appreciated the simplicity of the process and I didn’t have to make any appointments that would have taken time away from my business,” he says. “I only had to post my exact criteria and wait for logos to start coming in.”

“There was so much variety to chose from,” he adds. “The ability to have many designers was a plus. If you like one design, but want to add to it, the designer will change it to your specifics, which helps a lot.”

The ideal logo was a simple one that represented the restaurant’s history. The “EST. 1995” ring around the image pays homage to Fiori D’Italia’s long presence in Anchorage.

Ferati says he appreciated the number, and variety, of the designs he received. He recommends MycroBurst for restaurant owners looking for a brand new logo, if they have a strong, clear idea of what they want.

“The designers can’t make something that you yourself don’t know.”

Creative mecca yields varied options:

Batavia, a chain of Indonesian full-service restaurants and hotels opening in the first quarter of 2013 in the United Kingdom, turned to crowdsourcing after disappointing results from two top advertising agencies.

“One of our colleagues worked for a top advertising agency, and we were discussing branding, logo, and designs,” says Sarah Ward, spokesperson for Batavia. “He suggested we look at crowdsourcing, as big agencies are drawing their creative input from there.”

Batavia—which is in final negotiations to take over an existing chain and rebrand as Batavia—will open 12 restaurants within a period of three years all around the UK. The company was in search of a “high class logo,” says Ward, one that reflected Indonesia’s history as a former colony of the Netherlands.

The elegant logo that was chosen focuses on the “B” of Batavia, the old name for Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia.

Ward says the process was positive and she would recommend crowdsourcing a logo to other restaurant owners.

“It was straightforward and very simple,” she says. “We really liked the amount of choice.”

Prospective Project Holders can get started at www.mycroburst.com

Jacqueline Kantor