What is co-creation?

A headshot of David Garnder.

by David Gardner

Illustration of a large light bulb with green arrows pointing upwards to other smaller lightbulbs with hearts at their centre.

At Chaordix, co-creation is at the core of everything we do. Whether the end goal is to create new product lines or exchange ideas, we help our clients co-create. But some people are still wondering…

What is co-creation, anyway?

Co-creation, or co-creativity, is the practice of collaborating directly as peers in the design and development of an innovation with a traditionally external group such as: fans, customers, suppliers or employees (outside of their job scope). Simply put – it’s when an organization brings in a group that they do not normally collaborate with, and they work effectively together to create something awesome!

Read Next: How co-creation impacts the customer experience

In a co-creative program, organizations open up their processes (whether it is for ideation, or marketing, or another purpose) to a chosen ‘public,’ working together to achieve an outcome that is ultimately of value to both groups.

Co-creation is dynamic, and requires active participation.

But wait, isn’t that just crowdsourcing?

Many often use the term ‘crowdsourcing’ interchangeably with ‘co-creation,’ but the two processes have fundamental differences, which work for different business goals. If they’re family, they’re sisters, not twins.

Infographic: Co-Creation vs Crowdsourcing: Which drives greater business value?

Co-creation, for one, is community-oriented, while crowdsourcing is fairly one-sided and mostly used for idea contests. Because co-creation happens in a community, the trading of ideas does not end as soon as a challenge is closed.

Brands can continuously engage with their customers at any point of the ideation or innovation process. Even after the initial question has been answered, or goal reached, you’ll still have many opportunities to further encourage your fans’ creativity and spark new ideas. Communities encourage ongoing collaboration and a democratization of ideas – everyone has a voice, and every voice counts!

Got it! Now how do I get started?

Co-creation is best facilitated on online, social platforms which give organizations the ability to provide the community with techniques and activities which drive engagement, participation and collaboration.

An engaged community is a creative community, and being able to not only drive those activities but also reward participation in those activities entices members to be part of the action. It’s a win-win!

During co-creation, the main process is linear, moving forward through the necessary phases, (i.e. for product ideation). There are great opportunities for feedback and collaboration at every phase, not just in the initial idea submission phase. However, brands must also realize that not all members will participate in directly related activities along the way. They must also provide a variety of ways for participants to express their creativity in other ways and be able to interact with other members of the community because they usually have other commonalities that bring them together. In fact, the activities in a community do not always have to be directly tied to the main challenge, but rather, can serve to complement the main creative challenge at hand.

Discussions, short surveys, polls, photo sharing are some of the many ways to regularly engage community members with a wide-variety of activities, which warm-up participants to creative thinking and/or provides further context towards the goals of the main challenge. These lighter-weight activities become a treasure trove of data and insights, bringing forth consumer feedback and preferences in a more playful and engaging manner.

In co-creative communities, the relationship between the brand and its members is of utmost importance. Members feel valued and engaged when interactions are meaningful instead of transactional, so connecting with them on a deeper social level is critical.

Organizations that have found success in co-creation understand that it takes an active and engaged community to best collaborate.

Want to know more about how Chaordix has helped brands unleash the power of co-creation? Check out our customer stories.

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