Growing up in Kenya it was common to see in many households OMO as the first washing powder, so much so that OMO was used to mean "detergent." It was not surprising to hear children at kiosks asking the shopkeeper for “OMO ya Sunlight” or “OMO ya Toss.” Such was OMO’s influence. OMO is an acronym for Old Mother Owl. This name brings to mind wisdom and nurturing care, connotations which are not accidental.
Certain factors made it possible for OMO to have such a significant impact. It is not that there was no competition. There was Persil, Orbit, and Sunlight. OMO had first-mover advantage. According to the Unilever website, it was introduced in Kenya in 1953. By the time similar products had hit the market, it was a bit too late.
OMO had also garnered mass appeal from a favorite quiz show called OMO Pick-A-Box. It was a Sunday-night staple of every household. By the end of the month, and thus shopping day, OMO was the only thing on almost everyone’s mind as far as a detergent was concerned.
You may wonder what a short history of a traditional soap and its marketing might have to do with educational solutions built for the periphery. During the 2015 BRCK Expedition, while we were at Kiltamany Primary School, an interesting thought occurred us: this was the first time a lot of the people there were seeing and using tablets. Not just any tablets, but bright yellow ones with the word “Kio” at the back. Like OMO, it is a simple, easy-to-remember two-syllable word that captures the imagination.
It would be a welcome thing to have our product synonymous with tablet computing, and thus digital education. We could work on this aspect of our brand to ensure that in every country the Kio Kit is shipped to, any similar devices will be referred to as Kios, much like quite a few of us call non-Apple tablets iPads. That kind of brand recognition would put us miles ahead.
But, we would be putting on a show, instead of striving to build something that makes a positive difference to pupils and teachers in remote areas. The attention that we garner has to come from a sincere and honest place. We want to hear teachers telling us how the Kio Kit has made their work easier. We want to see children’s eyes going wide at the prospect of using a Kio during class, and we want to see their grades getting better because of the Kio Kit. We would like parents to let us know what an improvement The Kio Kit has made in their children’s lives.
Awareness about us has to come from being genuine and building relevant products.
We have tested The Kio Kit extensively.
We go for expeditions, not merely for the fun, but to put our products out there and ensure they live up to our brand’s promise, that it will work in the places we claim it will work and in the way we guarantee. We have also tested the Kit in schools in and around Nairobi and not just in exotic locations. The value that the Kio Kit can deliver goes for both private and public schools. Partnering with content publishers such as eLimu and Pearson ensures that we provide the most up-to-date and relevant learning materials.
OMO is still in great ways interchangeable with laundry washing. The word “Kio” is a play on the Swahili word “kioo” meaning mirror. The Kio tablet (and Kit) is intended to make you see your potential, what you could become. We do not just imply this. We firmly believe that making learning devices and materials easily and affordably accessible to children in the remotest regions of the country (and the world) will put them on a better footing with their age mates in more affluent and well-developed areas. The Kio Kit is the best solution for this.