That’s the approach that at least one British tea company has taken. Lancashire Tea has tasked a local firm to design several new packaging concepts and put them up for a vote. Online. By Facebook users.

If this isn’t a clear sign that social networking has deeply entrenched itself in our culture, including the culture of design, we don’t know what is. Facebook users will have the option to vote for any of the three new designs, or the existing design. Here’s the catch: if the old design wins, then the firm will receive a “much reduced fee”. If nothing else, it speaks to the design firm’s confidence in their work.

Is it possible that this method of changing corporate branding could catch on? In theory, it would only work for products or services that a great number of people see or interact with on a regular basis. Conceivably, it would almost guarantee the success of a new product if it were the winner of a public opinion poll. On the other hand, is it wise to place that much decision-making power in the hands of the consumers? If left up to the vote of consumers, how much could design change and would designers still have control of the designs of their product?

Granted, this is a very interesting concept and would likely work very well under certain circumstances and for certain products, but as a trend, it doesn’t seem to have a wide range of appeal to multiple types of design. What’s good for the goose may not be good for the gander, and we think that on matters of web design or other major graphic design, professionals should be making the ultimate decision and guiding the direction based on function, not necessarily the winner of a beauty contest.

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