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Tom Hardy
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Hardy, Tom

Bret Smith
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Tom Hardy

Design strategist Tom Hardy was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1946. He attended Auburn University, earning his Bachelor of Industrial Design degree in 1970. Tom started his career as an industrial designer at IBM and in 1989 became corporate head of the IBM Design Program. Now retired from IBM, he operates a brand-design strategy consultancy based in Atlanta, Georgia. Tom's early work for International Business Machines (IBM) included main-frame computers, printers, data entry terminals and office system products. During the early 1970s Tom was also given the task of researching the emerging area of personal computers and developed a number of concepts using advanced technology.After IBM decided to develop their personal computer using off-the-shelf rather than advanced technology, Tom designed the original IBM PC processor unit and keyboard that were introduced in 1981. His work as an IBM industrial designer won numerous awards including: Industrial Designers Society of America Gold IDEA, The Premio Smau Award (Italy), iF Product Design Award (Germany) and I.D. Magazine Annual Design Review. After serving as Design Center Manager at the IBM Lexington Kentucky facility which developed and manufactured typewriters, printers and keyboards,Tom went on to become the corporate head of IBM’s Design Program (1989-1993). In this capacity he directed worldwide design and identity activities in collaboration with preeminent designers Richard Sapper and Paul Rand, while coordinating fifteen design centers in Europe, Japan and the United States. Tom presided over the successful launch of numerous products including the highly successful ThinkPad notebook computer series in 1992 (one of Business Week’s “Hot Products” in 1993). The original ThinkPad, together with other award winning product designs initiated during his corporate leadership tenure, helped lay the foundation for revitalization of IBM's brand image and product offerings in the 1990s.Tom’s role in IBM global design and identity coordination is featured in the Rizzoli book World Design. The story of ThinkPad has also been written about in great detail in at least three separate books: ThinkPad: A Different Shade of Blue, Management of Strategic Alliances and The Race for Perfect, as well as in a case study published by The London Business School. The 2007 anniversary issue of PC Magazine also highlighted Tom’s innovative leadership role in the original ThinkPad development process. In 1993 Tom established a consulting firm focusing on brand-design strategy.From 1995-2003 he served as Corporate Design Advisor to Samsung Electronics assisting in their effort to focus on innovative product design to improve global brand equity. Business Week's 2002 issue on "Cool Korea" cited his work in inspiring Samsung designers to 'think out of the box'. Business school case studies attributing brand-design strategy to Samsung’s global success have been published by SCMS Journal of Indian Management, Bangalore, Thunderbird School of Global Management and Harvard Business School Publishing. Tom is the creator of Verbal-Visual Framework (VVF), a patent-pending brand-design management tool with unique analytics to accurately inform and direct decision-making. VVF provides an in-depth, educated framework for design language and strategic brand direction. In addition to Samsung, his consulting experience includes Coca-Cola, Ford, JP Morgan, Lenovo, Lowe’s, Maytag, Merck, Polaroid, Procter & Gamble, Tupperware, Verizon and Xerox. He also serves as part-time Professor in the Design Management Program at Savannah College of Art and Design.

Interviews and personal correspondence with Tom Hardy. Images used by permission of Tom Hardy.
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