What to Do When Your Fans "Hack Your Brand"

At Behance, we're big fans of ...
Managing Editor and Producer, Behance Inc.
January 28, 2013

At Behance, we're big fans of embracing when your fans "hack your brand."  But too often, companies can turn a passionate fan's suggestion into a PR nightmare.

The unsolicited redesign has long been a staple project for design students worldwide. An unsolicited redesign is when a designer remakes a popular brand or website from the ground up for fun, often for a school project. The results can be fascinating and challenge the way we view some of the most prominent brands.

Usually just as interesting is how the redesigned company responds. In most cases it is stone cold silence. However, if a redesign garners enough attention, it can have a ripple effect for the company's brand. When Dustin Curtis redesigned the identity of American Airlines, a representative from the company responded and was promptly fired. The ordeal shined a light on the often convoluted design process at large organizations. 

However, it's not always a unhappy ending for the designer. Designer Andrew Kim made waves a few weeks ago for his take on Microsoft as an aggressively "digital-first" company that stood in contrast to Apple's designs based more on physical objects (think of how iCal looks like an actual calendar or Notes looks like a yellow notebook). Microsoft didn't attempt to quiet the fervor surrounding Kim. Instead, they did the savvy thing and hired him weeks after his redesign was posted. Microsoft won some good will among the world's design community and picked up a world class talent. 

When your fans care enough to offer you an alternative: listen.