Adobe Labs recently released a new community environment (named Kuler) that allows designers to create, share and interact with color palettes. Here are some interesting points in Kuler that can/should be applied to other communities and used by social marketers:
- Celebrate your customer's core tenets: Color choice is one of the key factors that separate good designers from great ones. Adobe has found a way to celebrate this building block and allow a task that is usually done in solitude to be expressed openly and in a supportive, peer-driven community.
- Hyper-focused: Adobe could have started a much broader network covering all areas of design, but they chose to have a focus. Now they can gauge interest and tailor the expansion of this network over time in a more cost-effective manner.
- Ties in to product (it's a utility): It's no secret that Adobe is looking to move its suite of products online. This is a brilliant step to start getting designers to work online and create a feeling for what is possible. This community site also allows users to download color palettes for use inside CS2/3 to extend the value of the information beyond the browser.
- Simple, tailored interface: What would you expect from a design company? The interface is clean, modern and utilitarian. Users can surf in a fluid environment using Adobe technology and learn at the same time.
As opposed to the usual, non-strategic corporate entry into community sites ("give me MySpace, but with my logo on it"), this is a good model for a consumer product company looking to get into the social fray. Start with a focus, add value to your customers, allow them to share and promote your brand through their interactions and test the waters for a more robust solution down the road.