Crowdfunding: Building a brand directly with consumers

In Featured on App, Technology, The Mobile Customer by Kevin Kelly

pebble watch,, brand engagement, brand finance, brand positioning, marketing campaign, development, investment, marketing strategies

A couple of weeks back, crowdsourcing was added to the dictionary, along with Big Data. This got me thinking—how is crowdsourcing and crowdfunding changing the dynamics of branding?

More radically, how is loyalty constructed before a product even exists? Take Pebble's smart watches that gained funding through the crowdfunding website Kickstarter. Here, average consumers and investors alike can pledge money to projects before they ‘tip' when they reach their budget, and the funding is awarded. The digital watches that link your smartphone with your wrist raised over 10 million dollars.

Users that funded the project for at least 99$ were guaranteed to receive a watch that would go into production with that very same Kickstarter money. The retail product price point was simultaneously set at 150$ when the watches would hit the open market. So pledging 99$ gave a 51$ incentive to customers and investors alike. And then this happened this week: Pebble signed a deal with Best Buy to sell their watches at 150$.

It's a new kind of story—startups can now go directly to consumers to search for investment funding instead of nervously shuffling downtown from Silicon Alley. In fact, anyone who funded the Kickstarter campaign was also given the option to vote on the new color for the Pebble watch.

Not only did the Kickstarter build excitement for the product but gave the company its financial footing to actually produce the product. Looking directly to consumers for supply chain funding is a risk but it's an interesting one that can lead to important buzz among investors and customers alike. Pebble, to me, not only seems like a brand but also a people's brand because the public gave it the footing it needs.

If consumers want it, they can get it by uniting together through crowdfunding. Who's excited for the Veronica Mars movie? It now has a budget of over 5 million thanks to Kickstarter.


[PHOTO: Flicker jcmedina]