Established in 1939 by Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, HP (shorthand for Hewlett Packard, just for the record) is, as it describes itself a “technology company” selling consumer products for printing (shipping more than 1 million printers a week!), personal computing (48 million units a year), and software, as well as offering IT infrastructure and other related services. Ranked 11 in the Fortune 500, HP counts with 324,600 employees across 170 countries and generated $127.2 billion in revenue in 2011. Clearly, HP is big but, also, it lacks that je ne sais quoi that transforms a massive company into a revered brand like, oh, I don’t know, Apple. With the help of Moving Brands, HP hopes to transform its perception and introduce a whole new way of portraying the company. Maybe.
First, the good news: Moving Brands has posted a fantastic and detailed case study of their work here and I highly recommend reading every bit and watching every video as it shows very well what a rebranding of this size entails.
Second, the bad news: The new logo is not yet implemented by HP. It might. It might not. I am told HP is in charge of its implementation and decision for when and how. And that that’s all there is to know.
So there is a couple of parts to this project. The first is the hope: how the new HP logo came to be, how it looks and what its application might one day be. The second is the current reality: An application of all the new visual and personality attributes applied to the existing logo — a sort of brand purgatory but with nice animations and a bespoke typeface.
The defining signature of the system is the 13° angle. 13° represents HP’s spirit as a company, driven forward by ingenuity and optimism about the future and a belief in human progress. It also refers to the world of computing by recalling the forward slash used in programming. 13° exists within the brand identity, in the graphic language, product design and UI.
— Moving Brands
HP’s logo has been around for so long that it’s not really questionable anymore, it just is and it just exists. And it’s not a bad logo at all, especially in its most recent, simple incarnation. The accentuated angle of the two letters is recognizable and unique and serves as the basis for a possible new abstract logo. One that happens to be really, really great. It’s an elegant and bold evolution, using the simplest of forms: four sticks. Sure, it might not be instantly readable to someone that has never seen an HP product before but that’s why HP has millions of dollars to build a brand and engrain this in people’s mind without missing a bit. As a logo change for a massive company this would be pretty courageous to implement demonstrating that a mass audience can handle some abstraction, even if the poor audience still uses PCs.
The interim solution is fine. It’s hard to get excited about it knowing what it could be if implemented in full. At times, with all the heavy texturing, HP still feels like a stodgy PC company trying to be cool. The bespoke italic typeface is an interesting identity element that could serve as the best segue into the new logo if used consistently until that time comes.
I hope this identity changes in full. A lot of work and thinking has clearly gone into it.
Update December 15, 2010: The following statement was sent by an HP spokesperson:
In 2008, HP asked marketing agency Moving Brands to propose new ideas for various elements of HP’s brand identity, including fonts, graphics, and logos.
HP is one of the world’s most valuable brands and has no plans to adopt the new logo proposed by Moving Brands. HP did implement some of the other design elements shown in the case study.
Also, all the embedded Vimeo videos have been removed by Moving Brands.