Home Brand Logos History, Meaning and Evolution The Journey of the Spectacular HP Logo Explained

The Journey of the Spectacular HP Logo Explained

by Mark Stephens

Hewlett-Packard, popularly known as HP, is an American multinational IT company based in Palo Alto, California, USA. Launched in 1957 as a mere manufacturer of semiconductor devices, HP then joined hands with companies like Sony and Yokogawa Electronic in the 1960’s, which didn’t turn out to be much productive. It was in 1963 that HP teamed up with Yokogawa to form Yokogawa-Hewlett-Packard.

The company later chose to use the name ‘Digital Equipment Corporation computers’, along with its devices, but this notion became invalid with time. Finally, in 1966, HP launched its first series of minicomputers – HP 2100/ HP 1000. Although it was initially focused on software and computing services for commercial and individual customers, today it’s best known for manufacturing computers and computer accessories. 

As one of the most popular IT companies in the world, HP has a powerful brand image across the world. Although the HP logo has undergone a few changes over the years, the basic design has stayed mostly the same since its inception (1939). Since the IT giant uses a monogram as its logo, it is extremely easy to remember. The conscious decision to trim down the name from Hewlett Packard to HP for branding purposes has definitely helped. 

Below, take a look at how the iconic HP logo has evolved over the years. But before that, let’s understand the significance of the acronym “HP” in its brand logo.

The Meaning of HP in the HP Logo

Perhaps the most commonly asked question about the HP logo is, “What does HP stand for?” It is an acronym used to refer to the original name of the organization, Hewlett Packard. HP has remained an integral part of the company’s logo since it first emerged in 1939. Nevertheless, since then, the emblem has undergone a few significant changes to suit the modern audience’s taste. The name Hewlett Packard or Hewlett-Packard (as it’s typically written) has its origin in the names of its founders for the brand – David Packard and William Reddington Hewlett.

In 1939, these two Stanford University alumni started a business of measurement and electronic testing equipment in California. Their company bagged its first big contract in 1938, when it had to produce instruments for the Walt Disney film, Fantasia. Initially, the HP logo was often encircled by the words “Hewlett” and “Packard”, most probably to help with their brand recognition. The original version of the logo had a black and white palette, and color was added only in the late 1970s. 

Design Elements of the HP Logo

The HP logo features a plain, basic look which is a certain depiction of the company’s assurance of strength and dependence. Apart from being popular in the IT industry, HP logo is also well known amongst other fields. This is the level of success it has achieved over the years. 

Shape: The iconic HP logo has a square shape with curved edges. The center of the logo features a ring which contains the HP lettering. It consists of four lines, bent at 13 degrees and every line has a different length that represents a part of the organization’s name. The logo looks neat, stylish, and certainly innovative. However, a layman cannot easily understand the company name unless they are already familiar to it. This is because the “HP” lettering is stylistically represented and hardly legible.

Color: The color of the HP logo has changed over the years, starting with a basic black and white palette and eventually transitioning into deep blue. The most recent change had the logo use a softer shade of blue, somewhere around Pantone PMS 2925 C. The font features a white color. While blue is an embodiment of trustworthiness, professionalism, and latest technology, white signifies strength, power, courage and communication. 

Font: The font used in the HP logo is basic and presented in italic. It is similar to the Laural Hardy Narrow Italic type – even though it isn’t exactly the same. It has a vertical view, in a bold and unique pattern, capturing the entire attention and admiration of the viewer. Since it is a unique font created particularly for HP, you won’t typically find it replicated online.

1939-1954

The Journey of the Spectacular HP Logo Explained

The first HP logo was designed in a monochrome color palette and featured a white italicized lowercase wordmark on a solid black background. The tails of the letters were elongated beyond the circular background, changing their color to black. The name “Hewlett-Packard” was featured on the sides of the emblem in a bold strong typeface.

1954-1974

The Journey of the Spectacular HP Logo Explained

In 1954, the company decided to drop the additional lettering from its logo, clean its contours, and bring it down to a single “hp” in a circle. The leg of the “h” is extended upward and that of “p” downward. The redesigned logo featured a black monogram, positioned against a white background and enclosed in a thin circle. The extended legs of both the letters were crossing the spherical frame.

1974-1981

The Journey of the Spectacular HP Logo Explained

This was a very significant time for the HP emblem as the “Hewlett-Packard” lettering was reintroduced to it. The color blue was also introduced to the HP logo during this period. The hp monogram was now placed between two multidirectional rectangles around a white space at the center, wherein the abbreviation is placed. While the lower part is solid black, the upper part consists of blue and white stripes. Besides, there’s complete decoding of the company’s name to the left and right of the abbreviation – the first id Hewlett, the second is Packard. The logo was slightly tilted to the right.

1981-2008

The Journey of the Spectacular HP Logo Explained

In 1981, the HP logo was modified by the Siegel + Gale design bureau, introducing a terse version. The logo went entirely blue, consisting of a horizontal rectangle with rounded edges and “hp” in the center against a white background. The width of the rectangle corresponds with the length of the extended legs of “hp”. 

1999-2012

The Journey of the Spectacular HP Logo Explained

It was in 1999 that the black lettering was dropped from the logo, and the blue and white emblem became the lone element of HP’s visual identity. The font was neat and refined, and the whole design looked more sophisticated and professional than ever.

2008-2014

The Journey of the Spectacular HP Logo Explained

In 2008, the background was changed from blue to white while the circle changed its color to blue. This made the “HP” lettering white and hid their protruding tails. With the inverted colors, the logo appeared more attractive and professional.

2009-2014

The Journey of the Spectacular HP Logo Explained

In 2009 the lettering on the emblem was slightly modified, with more space in and between them. Both the letters h and p were a little enlarged, which gave a bright and contrasting look to the round blue and white badge.

2012-Today

The Journey of the Spectacular HP Logo Explained

In 2012, the HP logo adopted a softened palette, replacing the solid blue shade with a pastel sky-blue, which looked tender, friendlier, and more welcoming. Although the letters on the logo remained intact, they had a thinner look with a new background. 

The HP logo, like many iconic logos in the world, has undergone numerous changes to capture the minds of the audience. Although this icon may be apparently simple, it’s cautiously designed to have a direct impact on the consumers. The tilted letters don’t just make the logo memorable, but also demonstrate their quick delivery and commitment to innovation.

What’s more, HP’s decision to have the letters extend outside the circular background is a purposeful choice. By doing this, HP has showcased its ability to think outside of the box and reinvent things, which is a key identifier in the tech world. Of all things that made the HP logo memorable, the most important one is its simplicity. Clean yet remarkably attractive!

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The Journey of the Spectacular HP Logo Explained
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