It is hard to say what will happen to the penguin logo when Penguin Books and Random House complete their merger, announced in October, but I can’t imagine that the pudgy little bird won’t survive. Founded in the UK in 1935 to bring well-designed quality paperbacks to the market, Penguin Books made the flightless bird its trademark from the start. The first penguin was drawn by designer Edward Young, with Gill Sans specified for the typeface, and covers showing three bands of color used to organize titles by genre – orange for fiction, dark blue for biographies, etc. Typographer Jan Tschichold modified the logo in 1946 and redesigned some 500 Penguin books and also wrote a four-page design manifesto, “Penguin Composition Rules.” In 2003, Pentagram’s Angus Hyland tweaked the penguin logo some more.
Over the past 77 years, the Penguin brand has been extended into several different literary genre, all held together by its immediately recognizable trademark penguin. So, when the ad agency, Y&R Malaysia, was asked to create “More than Just Classics” campaign posters for the recent Kuala Lumpur International Book Fair, the penguin was an obvious visual choice to serve as the frame for the wide-ranging product categories the publishing house now offers.