HP’s Rebrand Efforts: An Inside Look

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.