Brands are constantly searching for ways to speak to their customers online in new ways that will expand their brand image and increase brand loyalty. These efforts have always been all over the map from and the latest entry comes from furniture maker Herman Miller with ThoughtPile.org. The concept of the site is that there is a question posed to the world and people can submit their ideas on how to solve it to create a ‘ThoughtPile’. The site is only in to it’s second question which is ‘How can we keep our cities vital?’. The answers are displayed in an interface that looks like a cross between clean information design and a biology slide with each answer appearing as a dot within a large circle. The number of times consumer agree with a thought determines it’s size and lets the best ideas become the largest and rise to the top. Up to this point in the flow of the site and the logic behind it’s creation I was on board and liked what they were doing. I could see the link form their design and work flow creation of working spaces to wanting to improve the design and flow of cities and society. Where the wheels fell off was when I dug into what all of this was going to be used for. What it to give the ideas to urban planners, to donate money to charity, to become the thought starters for new internal projects? Nope. It was to give a chair to the person with the best idea to each question. It just feels like a let down because you have an aspirational concept that asks you to be more than just a participant and put some thought into a problem that is bigger than you. To not hardness that energy and make something of it just makes it feel hollow and self serving because you expect more from a forum like this. Maybe with future questions will come a way to make the suggestions into something more than a new sweepstakes entry form.
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