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HP’s Rebrand Efforts: An Inside Look

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A New Look For HP

Rebranding is tough. Ask Tropicana, Pepsi or The Gap. It’s usually a no-win situation in which you alienate the fans who didn’t want a change, and you rarely please anyone with the new offering.  Yet, there are times and situations where a new brand identity is called for.

Hewlett-Packard finds itself in a position where they need a new brand positioning. As Amazon, Google, Apple and others lead the conversations on the future of technology, HP is seen as an old brand. Back in 2008 they enlisted Moving Brands to do the rebranding and recently the agency revealed the behind-the-scenes work, which TechCrunch points out is unlikely to be used. It’s laid out brilliantly here on the Moving Brands site. You can find additional commentary here, on the Brand New blog.

The post provides tons of images and videos showing Moving Brand’s ideas and process. There is clearly an incredible amount of thinking, legwork, artistry and strategic vision infused in the effort. Check out this video entitled HP Magnetic North [UPDATE: The video has been removed from video, sorry.]


Of course things like this are always subjective, and you can argue the merits of the final results if you like, but that’s not the point here.  The real issue here is the thinking and how this contrasts with what happens in those $500 ‘design my logo’ crowdsourcing efforts. From Moving Brands:

We wanted to ensure that HP maximized its opportunities to connect with people, to tell great stories and inspire great stories, to listen and respond, and to adapt to its environment. A multi-sensorial Identity and Design System was created to allow the brand to spring to life in print and in pixels, on screen and across all devices.

The Identity and Design System was structured to deliver familiarity and recognition through the use of a tight set of core brand assets — logo, colour and typeface. The contextual brand assets, such as identifiers and photography, add flexibility and relevance for specific target audiences. Expression Principles guide the creation of ownable HP signature experiences across spoken and written language, static layouts, information graphics, motion, sound, interaction, form factors and materials and physical spaces.

The defining signature of the system is the 13º 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.

Yes, HP has plenty of money to spend on this sort of thing, most companies don’t. I understand that, and small businesses don’t have to take it to this level. But you can hire one designer and work with that person directly. Let them understand the culture of the company, the trends in the industry and the behaviors of your customers.

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  • Published: Nov 3rd, 2011
  • Category: Culture
  • Comments: 1

The Language of Objects

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Last night I went to an event at MoMA called Modern Poets: The Language of Objects that was hosted by Rob Walker, one of my favorite people and true inspirations for my new role at Y&R. The event built upon a current show called Talk To Me (which ends on Nov. 7, so go see it this weekend). Rob brought together a really interesting and eclectic group of people to provide their take on the exhibit and the results were both unique and interesting.

But it was something that Rob said in his intro that really struck me. He spoke of the notion of “story-as-object, and object-as-story.” Now, those of you who know Rob are familiar with his exploration of this notion in such intriguing projects as Significant Objects, and I find this a truly fascinating notion.  Everyone who spoke last night created fantastically original stories that were built on objects – fashion, environmental elements, charts. All these objects became vessels for storytelling. In one case, multiple, distinct stories were created from a single object.

It was very powerful, and often the objects themselves were fascinating by the lack of clear story that they were naturally imbued with. It was the ability of these gifted storytellers to introduce new meanings to the objects that created a sort of tension. Storytelling is remarkably powerful and there’s a great opportunity to tell non-traditional stories through objects. Rob and company put on a virtuoso display of the possibilities.

Alex Metcalf, Design Products Department, Royal College of Art. Tree Listening at Fermynwoods, Northamptonshire, England. 2009. Installation with copper, plastic, stainless steel, aluminum, glass, headphones, amplifier, and wood, dimensions variable. Photo Credit: Alex Metcalf


Crowdsourcing & Disruption Event at Pratt: Realities & Denial

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Tremendously interesting event yesterday at Pratt. The star-studded panel lived up to its billing and a spirited give and take with the audience of Pratt students, alumni and teachers could have gone on for another hour.  The event certainly left me with several key takeaways that will help to further shape my thoughts on crowdsourcing. Here are some selected (paraphrased) quotes from the panel, along with some of my own personal key learnings:

First, we need to start refining the term ‘crowdsourcing.’ It is currently being used to refer to a whole host of different activites, tactics and executions, some of which are wildly divergent. I heard terms such as co-creation and mass collaboration used and I thought those were interesting. I’ve toyed with the word ‘expertsourcing.’ Better definitions will lead to more clarity.

Chris Clarke, Chief Creative officer of LBi, cautioned the crowd that you can’t make money off of a mastery of technology. By that he meant, knowing how to use tools isn’t enough. This would be a recurring theme.

Ben Malbon of BBH Labs urged people to recognize that the horse had left the barn and rather than fight against crowdsourcing, you should be learning how to master this concept before your competitors do.

Adam Glickman of ideaLists pointed out the importance of filters when utilizing crowdsourcing. This was also a repeated theme from the panelists. In fact, that’s where Clarke saw the opportunity for more traditional agencies as it relates to crowdsourcing. John Winsor of Victors & Spoils agreed that curation was important, and also noted that managing the size of the crowd was an important element.

Mike Samson, co-founder of crowdSPRING, felt that crowdsourcing is a great opportunity for smaller, even local companies and brands to get high quality work at an affordable price.  My takeaway here is that if smaller, even mom & pop shops are starting to get great looking design, that raises the bar across the board. Now everybody is going to have to have great design and now more design jobs and all levels are being created.

Great stat from Ric Grefe, Executive Director of AIGA: About 1 million design students in China, compared to about 40,000 in the U.S. Implication: your competition for jobs is about to expand exponentially. Welcome to the flat world.

This led to the number one takeaway of the evening for me: The difference between design and commercial art. If you are entering a logo design contest, that’s commercial art. Nothing wrong with that, but you’re going to be in a race to the bottom. Design is about problem solving and working intimately with a client.

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  • Published: Sep 25th, 2009
  • Category: Archives
  • Comments: 16

Data Visualization: A Primer and Practical Application

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Over the last several months I’ve been fascinated by the talk around Data Visualization. It’s one of those things that when you see it done properly, its brilliance immediately strikes you. Good Data Viz can illuminate and educate, inspire and entertain. I also understand that this is an area when I am a student and am happy to turn it over to the pros. So, with this post I want to share some of the smartest stuff I’ve seen, as well as provide you with some original commentary from Patricia McDonald, Planning Director at BBH Labs. I’ll also add some thoughts of my own on where I think DV can best touch the average person.

Here’s a quick run down of some must read material on Data Visualization:

Manuel Lima is a leading thinker in the area of Data Viz, and recently laid out his Information Visualization Manifesto. Make sure you read the comments as well.

Now, take a look at this video of a talk on the subject Manuel gave:

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

 Those super-smart cats at Made by Many are all over this of course, so check out what they have to say as well.

I’ll wrap up this intro with a post by Jim Carroll, Chairman, of BBH London that was featured on the BBH Labs site, which also has a great follow-up on Lima’s Manifesto.

This is all pretty heady stuff, so I’ve turned to Michael Surtees of DesignNotes to put things in a bit of perspective. He also offers some handy resources on the subject.

And here’s where I found myself asking, “How can Data Visualization be most relevant to me?” Patricia McDonald was kind enough to offer the following:

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  • Published: Jun 18th, 2009
  • Category: Archives
  • Comments: 1

Understanding the Risks of Engaging a Freelance Logo Designer

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Today Eyecube presents the second in a series of Guest Editorials from Ben Johnson of Logoinn, a custom logo design service provider based in the UK. Chances are if you’re reading this you’ve been redirected from my old site,, to my new site, And if so, you’ll see the new Eyecube logo at the top, designed by Logoinn. What do you think, pretty snazzy, huh? But back to Ben…

There is an adage that you need to pay attention to when you are in the market for a logo designer:

“You get what you pay for …”

Of course, we are living in challenging economic times. As the owner of a business, you do need to make sure that your marketing and advertising budget goes as far as it possibly can. Therefore, when you are seeking logo design services, you definitely (and understandably) will be inclined to obtain assistance from a provider who bids the lowest.

In this day and age it oftentimes is the freelance logo designer who will bid the lowest when it comes to your own project. In most cases, a professional logo design firm will charge at least somewhat more for its services than will be the case with an individual who is freelancing.

Through this article you are provided some points to ponder seriously if you are considering hiring a solo freelancer to undertake the task of designing your logo for you. By paying attention to the information that is presented to you in this article you will be able to make a wise and educated decision in regard to whether or not selecting a solo freelancer is the best course for you to take when it comes to the important task of designing a logo for your business enterprise.

Limited Resources
One problem area associated with individual freelance logo designers rests in the fact that they probably lack the full of array of resources that will be available at a firm. For example, there are some very powerful software applications that a professional logo design firm will have – applications that will be out of reach due to expense and other issues from a solo freelance logo designer.

Obviously, when you are seeking a logo for your business, you are best served when you have a provider like a design firm that has access to the full of array of design and related tools and resources.

Poor Quality
Unfortunately, in this day and age a considerable number of unqualified people are setting themselves up as solo freelancers. These individuals can be found in all creative and technical service arenas. This includes in the realm of logo design.
In the end, while these individuals can talk a great game, when all is said and done they simply are unable to provide to you the quality logo design and development services that you must have. You can end up paying such an individual a generous fee and have nothing to show for your investment when all is said and done.

Lack of Guarantee
Another risk associated with going the solo freelancer route rather than to a pro design firm when you are seeking the creation of a logo rests in the reality that such a freelancer working on his or her own will not offer you any type of guarantee. In point of fact, even if a guarantee is extended, the question then becomes will the solo freelancer honor that guarantee when all is said and done.

In the end, you can end up being better served through engaging a logo design firm because such an operation will have an established track record when it comes to offering – and honoring – guarantees of their work.

Lack of Customer Support and Technical Assistance
Customer support and technical assistance is vital when it comes to obtaining services for your business. This holds very true when it comes to engaging a firm or a solo freelancer to provide logo design services for your business venture.

The simple reality is that a freelancer working alone simply will not have the time to provide to you the type of customer support or technical assistance that you really must have when it comes to logo development and related matters. When all is said and done, you want to know that you will have a provider at your side that will be there when necessary … the type of support that you will be more likely to be able to access through a professional logo design firm.

While there are some talented solo freelancers providing logo design services in business today, when all factors are taken into consideration, you likely will be best served by engaging a firm to provide you the assistance you need in regard to logo design, branding and developing the image of your business enterprise.

Disclaimer: I entered into an agreement with Logoinn in which they received the opportunity to write guest editorials on Eyecube in exchange for the creation of the logo. No money changed hands in either direction.

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  • Published: Jun 16th, 2009
  • Category: Archives
  • Comments: 6

Getting a logo, the journey continues

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Regular readers will recall I recently announced my intention to get a logo for eyecube. I’ve partnered with Logoinn for the creation (see there first guest post here) and you’ll be hearing more from them later this week. Today I wanted to touch upon a key learning I’ve uncovered as part of this process.

If you’re a business owner, freelancer, marketer or really anyone who manages a brand you feel a sense of ownership. You live the brand a feel you know it better than anyone else (and you probably do). But now you’re thinking about bringing in someone from the outside to help you build upon your vision.  Believe me, things can get a bit tricky here.

Trying to explain to anyone, even a really talented designer, what you want is extremely difficult. Here’s why:

  • It’s in your head, not the designer’s
  • Not being a professional designer yourself, it’s difficult to articulate exactly what you want
  • The designer, no matter how well briefed, is bringing their experiences to the table, not yours
  • If you are starting from scratch, there’s nothing to base it on
  • Nobody knows what is right until you see it

There’s more I’m sure, but you get the idea. It’s really a scary process. I didn’t know what I wanted exactly, but I knew what I didn’t want. 

The toughest part is letting go and just being open. If you are locked in to one idea you’re going to miss out on a lot of cool design possibilities.  Try to approach the project with an attitude that says, “let’s see what happens” rather than “I must have exactly ‘x’.”

Ultimately I think you’ll get a better result if you work with the designer, taking their input as well as giving direction.


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