Pentagram Creates New Identity for Penguin Press

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Penguin Press, an imprint of Penguin had a problem: Their identity system didn’t stand out on a bookshelf. And due to a recent merger with Random House, the publisher was in need of an update. Penguin Press, established in 2003 by Ann Godoff, Penguin president and editor in chief, worked with Michael Beirut, Pentagram partner-in-charge, and Jesse Reed, designer at Pentagram, to develop a new mark and identity system that would fully meet the publisher’s needs.

As Jesse Reed, Pentagram designer explains: “The last mark was light and delicate and could easily fade to the background. […] We wanted something a bit louder that can be seen from the bookshelves—to give Penguin Press a more visible presence.”


The previous logotype (left) and Pentagram’s update (right). Image courtesy Pentagram

According to Pentagram, the team began playing with the PP acronym and soon had a realization that would help them capture the essence of Penguin Press. They write on their site:

The team soon recognized the similarity to ¶, the proofreader’s symbol for a paragraph, which is called a pilcrow and consists of two “P”s in reverse. Using the same configuration provided a concise acronym that evoked the essence of what publishers sell: words turned into sentences turned into paragraphs.


The team at Pentagram looked at examples from historical texts for inspiration. Image courtesy Pentagram.


The wordmark is set in Balto Light. Image courtesy Pentagram.

Reed explains the project process a bit further:

Ann Godoff left it pretty open-ended at first. We presented five or six options. Michael [Bierut] and I discussed the option we favored, Ann agreed and we moved forward. It’s rare for a project to be this seamless. … The new logo isn’t just decorative, but meaningful.


The updated identity clearly stands out compared to the previous identity. Image courtesy Pentagram.


Ad in “The New York Times” featuring the new look for Penguin Press. Image courtesy Pentagram.


“The New York Times” ad. Image courtesy Pentagram.


Penguin Press’ Twitter page with the new icon. Image courtesy Pentagram.


The Penguin Press Winter 2015 catalog used the new icon as a decorative pattern. Image courtesy Pentagram.


Image courtesy Pentagram.

Lessons LearnedFor even more design tales, pick up your copy of the August issue of Print. Focusing on Lessons Learned, this issue includes a look back at AIGA’s 100 years, an examination of how gifs and Vine are being used in advertising, an explanation of legendary designer George Tscherny’s inspiration and influences as told by him. Never miss another issue and subscribe to Print today.