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Ma.gnolia: A new approach to creating buzz?

I was reading about this new social bookmarking product called Ma.gnolia. What startled me about this product was the mass of talent involved with launching it.

I quote from Jason Santa Maria’s site:

The attractive people at Happy Cog were asked to create the site: Tanya Rabourn (information architecture), Erin Kissane (brand direction), Greg Storey (interface design), Eric Meyer (CSS and markup), Jeffrey Zeldman (creative direction), and me (logo/brand design). (source)

The company behind Ma.gnolia did all of the development only outsourcing the design part of the gig. That makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is why so many people were involved in design. I count six!

Almost all of those people are high-profile and I am sure would have been completely capable of handling this project alone. At the very least, two people with adequate time could have done this.

Then it hit me. I think these people were involved because of their visibility. They could hire them to design the product and at the same time it would bump marketing and visibility. It’s a genius idea except for the high cost involved. Most under-funded startups couldn’t pull this off. If each person needed to make $7,500. that’s an immediate $45,000. for just design.

I think these people were hired because of the awareness they would subsequently create about the product through their own channels.

At the Tornado office we were discussing this very thing — once you build a great web app how does the world hear about it? I think that the Ma.gnolia people have come up with an interesting solution to this problem. Whether it was intentional or not it has obviously worked for them. I have to ask however if it would have been as effective to simply give a “pre release” login to a good dozen high profile designers and coders. Certainly if the product is good it would have been talked about.

Despite all of this the future of Ma.gnolia remains a question (as with any new web application). Ma.gnolia needs to unseat de.licio.us and that is altogether a different story.

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  1. Well, at least 4 of those folks are listed as being an active part of Happy Cog. Greg Storey, I believe, is a contributor to A List Apart.

    So, my intial impression was that the Magnolia people hired Happy Cog as an entity. Jason, is just giving a shout out to the team. I would almost be certain that as a small company, they handle all the projects like this, getting input from the entire team.

    I dunno though. I guess one of them would have to speak on this.

  2. Well now, isn’t that cool. I guess I haven’t been spending enough time reading up on where these people are working lately. Thanks.

  3. On the other hand, I wonder if all those elements of Ma.gnolia would have the same level of perfection had one overworked designer tackled it all. Marketing success or not, it’s a pretty darn nice site.

  4. Chris –

    I think the bottom line, regardless of who one hires to produce, build, market, advertise…is the product / service itself.

    Sure, hiring a high profile agency can help you get out the intial buzz and awarenss. But, if the product is crap then the glitter fades pretty quickly.

    To use the Tornado example, I think if ya’ll put out a quality app which served a need, you might not have the same initial buzz as the celebrity built app, but you send it to the right people who send it and on and on — you’ll build just as good a marketing effort, for less money.

    Wow, Was that a complex sentence, or what?

  5. Mark –

    I agree with you there. I think initial buzz is important but in the end it is about your product.

    Some people would add: “Unless you’re Microsoft.”