DK is one of the few publishing brands that is recognized by consumers, so when the company set out to give a new look to its logo as part of a brand redesign, executives didn’t want to stray too far from tradition. “DK is a heritage brand,” said Rebecca Smart, managing director, publishing for DK, in an interview at the company’s New York City office in February. “But it needed to be freshened up.” The rebranding campaign, announced in late January, will see the logo appear on reprinted and new DK titles beginning in the middle of the year.
Smart said the rebranding effort is coming at the right time for the company. The Penguin Random House division has just posted three years of profit growth—a turnaround engineered by Ian Hudson, who took over as CEO in June 2017 and then handed the reins to Carsten Coesfeld on March 9. Hudson brought in a number of new people, including Smart, who joined DK from Ebury in January 2019. The current DK is also more streamlined, as Hudson sold Rough Guides to APA in 2017 and closed the Prima Games division in early 2019.
DK is based in London, but with offices in eight countries and publishing in 68 languages, it is very much a global publisher, and that continues to influence its publishing. In the children’s group, for example, DK editors are looking for books that entire families can enjoy in all of its markets. And while much of DK’s list is still generated by ideas from its editors, it is publishing more “author-led” titles, Smart said. “We’ve also become more nimble,” she noted.
Last year DK published The CBD Oil Solution, and though initial sales were a little slow, as interest in all things CBD has continued to increase so have sales of the book, said Mary Marotta, senior v-p, North America for DK.
A new addition to DK’s children’s group is fiction. The Secret Explorers is a series slated to launch in July and aimed at reluctant readers ages seven to nine. It features characters in action-driven adventures. The series is in keeping with DK’s goal to “entertain and inspire.”
Nothing is more fundamental to DK than its use of photography in its books, but the company has been adding illustrations to many of its books as well. DK had early success with The Wonders of Nature, which has illustrations, as well as more statistics than the company has typically included in its books, Marotta said. Wonders has sold more than 200,000 copies worldwide. DK is also giving a fresh design to its new edition of The Visual Encyclopedia, which is set for global release in October. All other titles in the Visual Encyclopedia line will also feature the new design when they are updated, Marotta added.
The U.S. remains DK’s biggest market, and within America the trade channel is its largest channel. But Marotta said the company is looking to increase its presence in the library and education markets, including gaining course adoptions in high school and college markets.
DK has also entered the fast-growing audio publishing market. Its list is developed in the U.K. and currently available in English only. The company has released about 100 titles, and Marotta noted DK will add to the list as titles become available.
Though DK has been publishing for nearly 45 years, Smart said that as its recent actions have shown, the company will continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of its customers.