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Brand built, consumer designed

December 16, 2004

The idea of the consumer being involved in the product creation process is a compelling one, and an idea that’s come a long way from the days when Levi’s first offered custom fit jeans in the early 90s.

In fact, it’s the fashion industry leading the way in the adoption of the trend. With the widespread development of the internet and the increased sophistication of technology, the consumer can now play designer.

Here are some examples:


target’s customized clothing

nike shoes

vans shoes

archetype, the company behind efforts undertaken by target, land’s end and dessy

sports equipment

burton’s customized snowboards

burton’s plans for snowboards

burton’s custom site


wrenchscience bikes


the economist on the failure of bto

university predicts car parts will be built to order at local dealers

the dellification of ford, siemens or toshiba

By allowing the consumer to take a step closer to the producer role, brands have a massive opportunity to win over converts to their cause. Brands that desire competitive advantage must be prepared to grant consumers more access and involvement in the design process.

Here’s why consumer design works:

Control: Consumers want more of it.
Exclusivity: Mass production of one-offs provides unique products
Personalization: Custom designed products fit personal tastes
Creativity: Product creation provides an outlet for self-expression

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