• Hewlett Packard
  • Consumer Tech
  • Business Design

Human Progress: A vision to propel HP into the future

HP is a world leader – and worldwide provider – of IT, technology & enterprise products, solutions and services to customers and to businesses of all sizes. Working as HP’s lead creative agency, we set a ten year vision for the business.

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Dull, beige and old-fashioned
In 2008, the HP offer was unparalleled. From services to servers, printing to networking, storage to mobility, it had the broadest portfolio of all its competitors, leading the market in almost every category in which it operated. The price for this pace and dominance (50 acquisitions in five years) was a baffling portfolio, ranging from legacy to newly acquired brands. Consumers and business customers alike considered the once iconic HP to be dull, beige and old-fashioned

We wanted the best creative partner in the world, so we went to Moving Brands.

Glenna Patton,
VP of HP Brand Strategy and Experience Design.

 

A vision to unite, excite and inspire
The power of the portfolio could only be fully leveraged by aligning it behind a compelling vision – one that would inspire the various businesses and over 300,000 employees worldwide. Unifying HP presented an extraordinary business and creative opportunity – to transform the world’s largest technology company into the world’s most powerful brand.

We soon became aware of the full weight of HP's enormous global hierarchy and bureaucracy. Despite founders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard having literally ‘written the book’ on modern corporate management, a sense of loss of direction and confidence pervaded the business

HP had become the silver-haired old lady of Silicon Valley

Glenna Patton,
VP of HP Brand Strategy and Experience Design.

 
We got going very quickly – in less than two weeks. That’s really rare for work of this scale. This type of engagement can sometimes breach a year just to get going.

Mat Heinl,
Moving Brands CEO

 

Small team. Big expectations
Back in 2008, Moving Brands was still only a London-based studio. To make sure we were visible to as many people as possible, we spent two weeks of every six in HP’s Palo Alto HQ, and hit the ground running with a thorough, broad onboarding.

To understand where the company was, we considered everyone a stakeholder – from the CEO and board of directors, the marketing chief and executive vice presidents, the HP labs scientists, the regional bosses and marketing leads. We also undertook worldwide customer research to see the company through their eyes.

To understand where the company had come from, we absorbed the original business plan and visited Bill and Dave’s one-car garage, where Hewlett Packard started out.

We realised our role was to help HP confront a series of painful and profound questions: who are we? – and what should we become in the next 10 years? How can we create a unified brand – and how can we get people to rally around it?

Widescreen in scope. Microscopic in detail
Spanning two and a half years of our work together, HP’s brand reinvention was widescreen in scope and microscopic in detail. We worked simultaneously on articulating a unified vision for HP’s future, while also focusing on what could be immediately improved and actioned. Absolutely everything was reconsidered — from the user interface motifs and the retail experience to consistent industrial design principles. Throughout the process, we took into account the wishes and advice of the inhouse design leads and worked closely with HP’s many external agencies.

Week after week, our small team proved that Moving Brands’ drive, vision and focus were equal to a monumental task. At the time, HP was manufacturing 100 million devices per year and had in excess of 47,000 different models on its books. Redesigning its brand meant redesigning the way HP did business.

 

Reconnecting with founding beliefs
If the company had, to a certain extent, lost its way, we felt we could find direction in The HP Way - Bill and Dave’s original philosophy for the business, with its belief that when you get to know people through ‘managing by walking around’, they get a sense of the company’s destiny and do great things.

At co-creation workshops that engaged every stakeholder – from marketing leads to the CEO – in the redesign of the business, we unearthed what lies at the root of the company: the conviction that technology must improve human life, so HP must continually aspire to do better.

 

HP stands for Human Progress
This enduring truth – that HP stands for something much greater than its devices and services, something as profound as its positive impact on people’s lives – is articulated, simply and memorably, as Human Progress.

This was the fully-fledged vision we created for HP’s future. Massively ambitious, it was a claim that the world's largest technology company could legitimately make to transform into the world’s most powerful brand.

To make the vision real and tangible, we used film, photography and an installation in the Palo Alto HQ so everyone could get a sense of how HP would ‘lean into the future’.

 

We had three CEOs during our tenure and that's unusual. Mark Hurd, Leo Apotheker and Meg Whitman each had a different background, skills, style, and team.

Mat Heinl,
Moving Brands CEO

Heritage and progression
The defining signature of the Living Identity we designed is the forward slant found in Hewlett and Packard’s 1941 original company logo. Rooted in its heritage, this 13º angle simultaneously represents HP’s forward momentum towards the future. It also refers to the world of computing by recalling the forward slash used in programming. We embedded the 13° in the brand identity, driving the design of graphics, products and UI.

A vision that found its time
The four 13° diagonals that form an abstract version of the HP insignia, was an unambiguous signal of a company on a mission of renewal. In 2011, when the mark was created, the business felt unable to embrace this forward-facing posture. It was a company in the midst of great upheaval, and the fundamental change proposed by a brand overhaul was deemed too dramatic to put into action.

The future-proof nature of the symbol was vindicated when, in 2017, HP’s new CEO Dion Weisler gave the go ahead and it emerged as powerful as ever, on selected premium HP products. Those four ultra-refined, forward leaning lines caused an immediate stir in the design world and beyond. What they represent – HP’s vision of Human Progress – remains true to the spirit of the business we helped discover back in 2008.