Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Small business: going big on mobility

Protein gets digitally creative with mobile applications

Over the last five years, Sydney-based digital branding agency Protein has increasingly been using mobile applications to improve its workflow and proposals for clients.

One of the key services Sydney-based digital branding agency Protein provides to clients is the development of creative branding solutions, and part of that involves developing mobile applications.

But according to Protein director Galvin Scott Davis, offering mobile apps as part of creative proposals was only introduced recently, when the company realised it was something clients were increasingly after. He noted that during the first 10 years of business, mobility wasn't a factor.

"Part of the mantra of our business has always been 'never grow old', which is where we find brands die when their image, creativity, and ability to pivot at any moment becomes stale, so we knew when we went into business it was going to encompass all new technology," he said.

When it comes to how Protein as a business relies on mobility, it wasn't something that Davis had to question. As a result, over the last five years, the company has adopted a catalogue of applications, which Davis said has improved the business' overall production pipeline and has enabled greater work flexibility, including his ability to spend more time working overseas.

He said for instance, prior to the days of business applications, the company would have to collect physical taxi receipts, write out time sheets, and print out paperwork.

These days Protein relies on applications including Harvest for time tracking, Basecamp for project management, Wunderlist for task management, Skype for remote communication between team members and clients, and Uber for travel.

Meanwhile, Protein's staff of 10 and its contractors are encouraged to now bring their own devices to the office to allow them the flexibility to work how they want to, which Davis said makes them less reliant on their desktop.

"We counted [the adoption of applications] as a necessity. If we had not, and all of our clients had embraced mobility -- which they were [doing] -- they'd come to us for advice on technology and trends, then we would have been behind," he said.

"We've seen a reduction in admin in anything we can do; as a creative company, every single opportunity to reduce administration for that time to be spent on creative thinking, the better.

"Plus, because we knew we were interested in creating our own apps, one of the ways to do that is to research, play, and integrate your business as much as possible, and that's the same for anything we do ... the best way to learn is being hands on and constantly delving into it rather than just waiting for it."

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Protein developed their first own in-house content titled Dandelion originally as a mobile app.

(Image: Supplied)

But one of the most significant roles that mobility has played for Protein was during the creation of company's first in-house content creation project. The idea, titled Dandelion, was developed into a story about a little boy who overcame bullying. However, Davis said at the time that while they realised it was a good idea, getting the story published by a publisher was going to be difficult and instead turned to self-publishing the story on the Apple App Store.

"We had this idea that we thought would be successful and we knew we had a really hard chance of getting published, so we developed it as a mobile app," he said.

The app eventually got turned into a book and published by Random House, which went onto becoming a number-one seller in Australia, and winner of the New York, London, and Sydney design awards. The company also developed a follow-up story called Daisy Chain that transformed from an app into an animated film narrated by Hollywood actress Kate Winslet.

Davis said none of it would have been possible without the initial development of the app.

"It was the mobility project that we were able to go and test the market for [Random House]. We created the audience so they could see the value in it."

Davis has predicted virtual reality is going to be the "next big thing" when it comes to producing digital content for film and television,

"One of the big changes in the last four to five years in film content that we're pitching is how it can live as a mobile experience, and a part of that in the last six months has been VR. Virtual reality is definitely the next big thing; with the power of mobile devices we'll definitely be seeing ... a massive rise in the next five years."

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