The Economic Times puts Onio's Design Thinking and Strategy on it's masthead 
Design thinking is a new philosophy that helps designers enter the boardroom and help companies in
brand experience, trends research, business process design and corporate strategy, reports Vikas Kumar
- The Economic Times - 2nd August 2010

THERE’S LITTLE IN MANOJ KOTHARI’S appearance to suggest the wildly creative nature of his profession. The relaxed
formal attire and well-trimmed look point towards a serious business professional. And when he uses terms like “brand architecture” and “perceptual mapping” it’s easy to think of him as a branding guru or a market researcher.

But Kothari is actually a designer. A designer with a difference.Kothari, who founded Onio Design,and others of his ilk are no longer content designing refrigerators, mobile phones and soap wrappers. They now hope to take on a bigger, more serious role in their clients’ businesses—from brand experience and trends research to business process design to re-crafting corporate strategy. In short, they want a seat at the decision-making table.
How? Design thinking is a new philosophythat has helped these firms move into areas traditionally occupied by research houses, advertising agencies and consulting firms. “Design is a mindset. A design orientation helps see the world in a different way,” says Santosh Desai, managing director, Future Brands, a brand consulting firm. For someone who has no design background, Revathi Kant’s position as head of Titan’s Design Studio is a perfect indicator of this shift in perception. “The transformation is happening. We are now beginning to realise in India that design is going to be a key differentiator,” she says. Though it cannot help size the market, design helps capture even what consumers aren’t saying yet, she says. “Market research gets the facts but design gives a better understanding of deep latent needs of consumers… To know what’s the next big thing, what people on the‘extreme’ are doing, you need design research,” she says. ACASE IN POINT IS ONIO’S recent project for Secure Meters, a Rs 700-crore company based in Udaipur that provides metering solutions for consumers of utility companies and to industrial customers. Secure went global in 1996 after acquiring British metering company PRI, an erstwhile technical collaborator. It snapped up five other small brands in Sweden, Australia and the UK over the next decade. Pitted against global giants such as Honeywell and GE, Secure had a milliondollar question to answer: whether to continue with a portfolio of local brands across the globe or opt for a single corporate identity?

It was, in classical marketing terms, a choice between a house of brands (like P&G) and a branded house (like
Samsung). Given the scale of Secure’s worldwide operations and different cultures involved, it was necessary to run a comprehensive and rigorous validation exercise before arriving at any decision, says Sanjaya Singhal, managing director, Secure Meters. Besides ad agencies and market research firms, Singhal invited Onio, which had previously done a visual re-branding exercise for the company, for opinion.“The question posed to us was—how could we transition these brands into the overall (Secure) brand without losing the equity of those individual brands,” says Kothari. Applying techniques like perceptual mapping (where stakeholders’ erceptions about the company and its culture were mapped on a twodimensional scale) and corporate ethnography (observation and in-depth conversations with people to uncover patterns of thought) Kothari and his team met customers, dealers, istributors and employees across four locations in Sweden, India and the UK in an exercise that lasted six months. Kothari explains that he used methods integral to a designer’s toolkit—seeking insights rather than inferences,visualizing problems across multiple dimensions, storytelling, prototyping and making everyone a participant in the process. “We involved people in visualizing the new integrated brand. People realized how a small local company can take on global competition; what values they’ve observed in the company;what they would like to build afresh and so on.” For example, a senior manager at one of the acquired companies, Horstmann
Controls in Bristol, UK, who had moved from a bigger competitor Landis+Gyr, was surprised about the nimbleness agility of Secure’s culture. Even casual conversations weren’t ignored. When he was first being chauffeured to the company’s office in Udaipur, Kotharirecalls asking the driver what he thought of his employer. “Yeh log hamesha kuch naya karte rehte hain (they are always doing something new),” he was told. That was a simple yet crucial insight into the innovative nature of the company’s culture. The exercise validated a single brand
identity approach that would espouse the core values emerging from the research. For a mid-sized player like Secure, it also made economic sense to promote a single brand globally, as a ‘branded house’.Singhal says it was the back-to-basics approach by Kothari and his team that made decision simpler to make: “They were not just the solution but part of the solution, which we crafted for ourselves. We learnt the methodology and process,so the choices were conscious choices.” ... 246279.cms
Brand re-positioning and messaging for Talentica - a technology company 
Talentica is a Pune based software product development services company with global clientele. Onio's task was to figure out the essential strengths and dfferentiators for Talentica to provide a stable positioning in the overly cluttered technology market place.

Our tool of choice was corporate ethnography that got us talking at length with key employees, key customers and the management. As we put 'design thinking' to use on Brand Strategy- we believe that brands are built 'INSIDE-OUT' the long term, a brand can only stand on the core of its internal values.

Here is the final output-

Co-creation workshops for Innovation for Emerging (BoP) Consumers 
One of the latest tools in the hand of innovation savvy organisations and design companies is 'Co-creation'- means creating WITH consumer, rather than imposing a product on them. Onio recently concluded co-creation workshops across India and Indonesia for a large consumer durable manufacturer, for a product for emerging (Bottom of Pyramid) market. This workshop came right after a detailed ethnographic research across 6 cities/towns of India and Indonesia (Innovation for Emerging Market) with several shop, home and dealer visits.

Onio devised country specific visual tools to engage the consumers and elicit better responses from them. Onio worked with its extended network of design teams in Jakarta and other Indian cities along with the core team, for facilitation of these multi-cultural workshop.

With this, Onio underlines its committment towards trend-setting innovation methodologies and focus on innovation for emerging markets that are becoming relevant for the world.
CNBC- Young Turks - Game Changers - Profiles Manoj Kothari and Onio Design 
Leading business TV channel of India, CNBC TV 18 profiled Manoj and Onio in their show called Young Turks - Game Changers. Here is the link- ... amp;part=2

Weekend biking by Onio team 

Long weekend of Holi (28th Feb 2010) saw 9 of the Onio team members zoom off to Konkan coast on bikes. Beatrix, our latest team member from Germany joined them on her maiden Indian road trip.

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