Saturday, July 29, 2006

Coat hanger: creating variations of an idea with X-versions

I spotted this idea -- the CityScape coat hanger --on BoingBoing and thought I'd use it to demonstrate my latest thoughts on the X-versions technique.

Sixixis CityScape coat hanger

Labeling the idea as an X-version

I want to label the idea above and a good way to do this is to pick a word from the name -- or brief description -- of the product. In this case: CityScape coat hanger. Choosing "city" gives me:

Idea is city version


At the next stage I want to consider alternatives for the city. I can do this in three ways: by simply choosing a random word to replace the "city", by naming/listing cities, or by using reverse-reach.

Random word approach

With the creative directive:

Create X version

I choose a random word for the X. "Penguin" gives:

Create penguin version

which simply suggests that the coat hanger would feature penguins instead of a city. "Create name version" leads to an interesting idea: coat hangers that feature names --personalised coat hangers (right).

Naming/Listing approach

With my coat hanger labeled as a "city version", I can name/list cities to create more ideas for coat hangers. Initially some possibilities are obvious -- featuring other capital cities from around the world, for example. But the naming/listing approach will help to suggest many more options and uncover some assumptions too.

Name ex cities: cities that were destroyed in the past
Name write cities: fictional cities
Name 10 cities: cities that are in Europe

Converting these into X-versions format gives:

Create historic-city version
Create fictional-city version
Create cities-in-Europe version

"Fictional-city version" is an interesting one. An assumption has been uncovered that the city should be real. A hanger could be made featuring a fictional city -- Gotham City perhaps? "Cities-in-Europe version" leads to some interesting ideas too. A hanger could be made that features several famous buildings from different cities. Or maybe a hanger could feature the tallest buildings from around the world?

Using reverse-reach

With reverse-reach I imagine that someone has set a directive that made me give "city" as an answer. For example, a directive could've been "Name a really busy place in a country". I use that to complete my X-version directive:

Create really-busy-place-in-a-country version

I can name/list busy places in a country. "Football grounds" is one possible answer. "Create football-grounds version" suggests that hangers could be made that depict the stadium of a famous football team. Or if the idea is combined with the personalised hanger idea above, the hanger could feature the name of a famous team.

See also: Coat hangers: advanced labeling of the subject

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