Prototyping is a useful tool for brand innovation. This is what happened when graduate students joined the Crowd DNA team for a hands-on workshop...

Prototyping was the subject of this morning’s team training session at Crowd DNA and we invited some students from the MA Innovation Management course at UAL Central Saint Martins to join in the fun.

We use prototyping in two ways at Crowd DNA: for design thinking and as a research method, but we were also interested to find out how our guests bring prototyping into their work. Jose N, for instance is interested in bringing art thinking to business, which he feels opens up more creative ways to innovate than design thinking. Inga has worked with AI while Nina and Jose C (who built a prototype of an Amazonian community) are interested in design for social impact.

Leading the session was senior consultant Ken Wallraven, who explained that prototyping is a way of “thinking and expressing with the hands”. With that in mind we were split into groups and challenged to reinvent ‘breakfast on the go’. A noisy ideation and building session followed a discussion of needs, where ‘wearables’ were made from colourful string, vending machines were fashioned out of stationery and balloons were turned into drones.

While presenting our prototypes the discussion covered breakfast shaming (the perils of eating messy and smelly food on public transport), how we can learn from other categories and – if we want to think differently – why app ideas should be banned (at least in this session).

Interestingly, the prototype doesn’t always have to be a viable product. Provotypes are designed not to work but to provoke discussion, while pretotypes (derived from pretending) involve channelling your inner actor (something that certain members of the team did this morning) to mock or act out a function of a product or service.

Finally we looked at how prototyping could be useful for specific brands. If you’d like to find out more, please get in touch with our Products and Services expert, Tom Morgan.