This week Penguin Random House unveiled its new logo, and the immediate response was loud and strongly divided, with much of the reaction on social media lukewarm at best. The recently merged publisher decided on a minimalist wordmark which did away with iconic logos from the two houses. The company name is stacked vertically in a serif font, and forthcoming books will feature the new design beside a logo from one of Penguin Random House’s 250 separate divisions and imprints, a decision praised by the design community for its flexibility and subtlety.
In Bloomberg Businessweek, Michael Beirut, a partner at Pentagram (the design firm that handled the branding), spoke about the decision: “If you put your logo next to Penguin Random House, you become the symbol of Penguin Random House, as opposed to feeling you’re being smothered by some unwanted corporate parent.” Although the public has reacted with a collective sigh of boredom over the lost opportunity to literally merge a penguin and a house, the potential clutter of branding symbols inspired the stripped-down logo. "[T]he two companies have had quite different branding strategies, the Penguin being a "branded house" and Random House as a 'house of brands,'" Beirut explained to Design Week. "The new system very deliberately balances both strategies."
But the reactions on Twitter and Facebook were much less enthusiastic. Many were disappointed that the classic Penguin and Random House logos will be largely scrapped (Penguin Random House UK will still use the orange penguin in company branding). Others felt the new design lacked creativity; some were incredulous that such a simplistic solution took so much time and effort. But there was a contingent that agreed with Beirut and found the logo refreshing. Check out some of the highlights from the online conversation below.
"The least they could do. Literally." - Kyle Tonniges, via Facebook
"Goodbye, Penguin logo. You will be missed" - JT (@angloyankophile), via Twitter
"If they were going for boring they nailed it." - Heather Crist Paley, via Facebook
"That's not a logo. It's a font." - Ross Sharp, via Facebook
"I wonder how, without a symbol, this 'logo' is going to work on a tiny spine. Loved the penguin for that reason as well as many others." - Kathi Pearson Dunn, via Facebook
"Inspirational, a real design classic. Brave, distinct, subversive, and above all, entirely unremarkable." - Artellus (@Artellus), via Twitter
"It could be from a bank, a resort or a bar... So sad." - Rodrigo Morlesin, via Facebook
"So, I missed out on a @penguinusa classic tote then?" - Hemi (@TheHemicane), via Twitter
"I think the watermark is minimalist--and they could have done more. But I do like the idea of pairing it will each of their individual imprints.- Mike Kelly, via Facebook
"I like it. Simple, flexible with medium, can be paired with various different brand symbols, and classic typeface won't date as trendy too soon." - Tina Mammoser, via publishersweekly.com
"I find the lack of drawings refreshing. So many have an image instead of a simplistic logo that it stands out because of the lack of bells and whistles." - Josie Oden, via Facebook