The "These Come From Trees" project has now had its first meaningful open source experience. Witness, our new sticker.
To explain this process, a little story. Not too long ago I was at a speaking event at Citizen Agency in San Francisco, an internet company consultancy with a specialty in community. The event happened to be a speaking workshop, organized by Tara Hunt, and given by Lura Dolas. And though the speaking workshop was great, another really interesting thing I came away with was this discussion I had with Chris Messina, another Citizen Agent, about trademarks versus "community marks."
Chris was one of the founders of "BarCamp," which initially started out as a one-off "un-conference" in which the attendees set the agenda on the first day, and where the attendees are also the presenters, in contrast to the typicaly conference model of a series of single speakers presenting slide decks to large audiences.
Chris and I were talking about how when a trademark is freed, either through a Creative Commons license, which we have on the TCFT slogan, or through being designated a community mark, while the original creator loses some control over it, and as such would have more difficulty capturing part of the value created by their idea for themselves, this downside can often be made up for by a variety of things that can help spread the idea that much faster and make it that much better.
These Come From Trees now has its very own example of this. The original "These Come From Trees" sticker was heavy on research and thought, but admittedly light on graphic design. This is largely because Pete is good at research, good at thinking things through, but not all that great on Adobe Illustrator.
Furthermore, Pete's a big fan of fast prototyping, and iterating a design over time to get better as it interacts with the market. Well, the first instantiation of the "These Come From Trees" sticker worked well enough to prove its value in the pilot test, so we went with it.
Well, the other day, out of the blue, we received this email:
I came across your blog the other day, brilliant idea. Really like it.
Coincidentally, it’s a case of right time right place for an idea I’d had too. I’ve recently started a blog called Brand Boggler, and one of the ideas I’ve had is something called “Random Acts of Designess”, where designers do random acts of design for an unsuspecting cause they’d like to help.
More importantly though, I wanted to help you, so have done some work on your sticker for you to improve it’s standout and message – self explanatory really. I hope you don’t think this rude, and if you don’t like what I’ve done then no problem, just ignore it. If you do like it, I can easily send you the artwork or make some amendments, whatever you like really.
You can find out more about me and my blog here: http://www.brandboggler.com
Hope you like the sticker, and look forward to hearing from you.
Guy had gone and re-factored our design. He had take what was an amateur attempt, and recognized the value in it, and put his own talent into making it look at good as it should.
It wasn't yet perfect, for example, Guy's from Australia, so he had changed the part that talks about how much paper can be saved a year into metric! But it certainly was a step up from the previous incarnation. So Guy and I continued to iterate the design he had come up with until it got to the point where it adhered to all the requirements we had come up with for the product.
At this point, we've ordered some new stickers, a small batch of 500 of this new design, to make sure that they look as good in sticker format as they do on the screen.
The big takeaway has been how fortunate we are to have licensed this project with a Creative Commons license, because it has let people all across the world interact more meaningfully with the project, and in this one case, have a big input into where it is going.
Now, with this sort of professional design, it makes it all the more acceptable for a large organization to deploy these all across their bathrooms, copiers, and printers. In fact, one of my tasks this weekend is to craft an email to the head of VMware's facilities department to see about getting together to get an officially sanctioned implementation going at the six or so VMware building locations throughout Palo Alto--servicing some 2000 employees, day in, day out.
Should be fun!