penguin books penguin random house

penguin books current logo

Image via School Library Journal

The evolution of the Penguin Books logo has been so subtle throughout the years that you probably hardly even noticed a difference from when you were reading a copy of “Matilda” as a child to now – when you come home from a long day at work and are eager to get back to that new Nora Roberts novel (it’s a guilty pleasure, we understand). Penguin began publishing cheap paperbacks in 1935 under Sir Allen Lane and the brand is now one of the most popular international publishing companies of all time. Printing many different genres of books for almost every age, the company has had no problem getting exposure.

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The logo itself was created by an office junior named Edward Young when he was just 21 years old. Since then, the company has seen a few different versions of the logo printed on its covers. The Penguin Group actually released a timeline of the evolution in 2010 for its 75 year anniversary.

Penguin Books logo timeline

Image via Penguin Group

Perhaps the most obvious of changes in the general makeup of the cartoon-like animal are at the years 1945 and 1950 – the latter of which apparently stuck around up until the late 1980s when the logo reverted back to a likeness that heavily resembles the original penguin.

penguin books old logo sketches

Image via Uppercase Magazine

penguin books cover layoutImage via Gallery Hip

Penguin wanted to emulate simplicity in its design and initially released their fiction books in orange, nonfiction in blue, and crime novels in green. As time has passed and more and more stories were told, a few new colors had to be added to cover all the bases of the emerging genres. According to Phil Baines‘ book, Penguin by Design: A Cover Story 1935-2005, the Penguin color code today is: red for drama, yellow for miscellaneous, dark blue for autobiographies, purple for essays, cerise (French for cherry, so like a redish hot pink) for travel and adventure, gray for world affairs, and the orange and green still mean fiction and crime respectively.

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penguin books penguin random house

Where is the company at currently? Ever since the two publishing giants Penguin and Random House merged in 2013, they have been facing the challenge of combining two similar but distinct, iconic companies into a singular brand. Headed by Michael Bierut of Pentagram, they have only just recently settled upon the above, minimalist design.

Take a look at Bierut’s fascinating design process here!

For more Brands & Products, take a look at these features.

What was your favorite Penguin design?

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