In October 2014, the Hewlett-Packard Company announced its intention to split into two separate entities, signaling the largest corporate demerger in history. The two resulting companies would each remain Fortune 100 industry leaders—with HP, Inc. focused on personal systems and printing, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) focused on enterprise IT.
With a need to move fast, Hewlett-Packard tapped Siegel+Gale to help define the new brand experience for this next stage of its evolution. Our team quickly got to work on brand separation strategy, brand positioning and identity, working rapidly to support a complicated separation.
One year later, Hewlett Packard Enterprise unveiled its new identity to the world, ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on November 2, 2015. Now, with a new brand projecting across the globe, HPE is poised to lead a new chapter in the Hewlett Packard story.
We recently spoke with Anne Swan, former global creative director, and Matt Egan, managing director of strategy, who both worked with HPE to craft its new brand strategy, story, and experience.
What were the unique challenges of this assignment from a strategy and design perspective?
Matt Egan: Our principal challenges were scale and speed. Even after the separation, HPE is a huge, $50-billion organization with a global footprint and a wide range of capability. With any large company, it can be difficult to define a “true north” for the brand, one that will successfully support the full scope of the business. Compounding that complexity, we had to work very fast. There was enormous demand inside HP for clarity and direction on the brand. Everyone from IT to HR to product development to global marketing was eager for guidance and new assets to ensure a successful transition. Because of this, we locked in on a strategy just 45 days after initiating the program, and we finalized the identity soon after.
Anne Swan: From a logo and design perspective, we were creating an identity in parallel with the business strategy, so we had to immerse ourselves early and continuously to be sure we understood the nuances of what the new business was about.
HPE’s brand promise is “Together we propel your business further” …It’s about being a true business partner to customers and delivering advanced technology to transform businesses.
What is the thinking behind the visual identity?
Matt: HPE’s brand promise is “Together we propel your business further.” The theme of the launch campaign is “Accelerating Next.” It’s about being a true business partner to customers and delivering advanced technology to transform businesses. The green rectangle, which we call “The Element,” is a symbol of that partnership. When applied in communications, it shows how HPE is deeply embedded into customer businesses and integral to their success.
Anne: HPE wanted to be more about business and less about technology, and business is always evolving and changing. So we wanted to create an identity that could move and evolve with them. We introduced “The Element,” because its a simple form that can do and be many things. It can be a frame to create a point of focus, it can be pieced together to create a pattern, etc. We also wanted to give HPE a color they could own, and the green (“Vital Green”) that we chose isn’t seen much their space.
HPE wanted to be more about business and less about technology, and business is always evolving and changing. So we wanted to create an identity that could move and evolve with them.
This program was delivered very quickly—does this set a new precedent for brands?
Anne: HPE CEO Meg Whitman cited the brand development process as an example of how the new company will operate—agile, decisive, fast. I’m not sure it’s a precedent, but we are proud of the work, and it shows what’s possible for even a large organization when it’s ready to make a bold move.
Matt: Everyone wants to move faster today, but let’s not forget, we also need to get things right. For this program, we were able to move quickly because we had true collaboration from the start with an amazing team at HPE. We had access to leadership throughout the process. We quickly aligned with the key insights that formed the foundation of the new brand. And we had a dialog with global customers at each stage of our journey for real-time feedback on the direction we established.
Any advice for other large enterprises that may be undertaking a similar endeavor?
Anne: To move quickly and with confidence, you need to have C-level participation. Senior leadership needs to get involved early, and who can feel comfortable giving the directive to make big decisions and drive change.
Matt: In large companies, there is only so much you can directly control from the center. Of course, there are standards and tools and processes, but beyond that, the real challenge is to inspire people. So, keep your people front-and-center. Make sure they understand and embrace the brand. Over the past year, HPE made sure to include global team members throughout the process and spent months prepping internal audiences so they could make the most of their first day as a new company. The most rewarding thing for us right now is to see the excitement of HPE employees all over the globe. In our view, their enthusiasm and commitment is a critical first step toward the future success of the company.
Congratulations to our client HPE on successfully launching their new brand. Visit our Work page to learn more about how Siegel+Gale has helped build brand experiences for other clients.