Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Field Notes: The Penguin Logo and its various incarnations

Penguin Books is celebrating 75 years in 2010, and to celebrate I thought I'd post their logo evolution this week as part of our field notes.  They are from the back of the book "Penguin by Design: A Cover Story 1935-2005" by Phil Baines.  I was amazed at how many changes one logo went through -- sometimes several in one year!  The whole notion of a stable symbol that people recognized over many years was definitely not used at this corporation until the 1950s.

1935 Original
This is their first logo, designed in 1935 by a junior staff member
named Edward Young.  He sketched penguins at the London Zoo
for the logo design.

!937 logo
1938 logo

In 1937 the logo changed and became a little more
squat with an elongated bill.  1938 saw the penguin
get a little funky walk but go back to his original

L to R: 1946, 1946, 1947, 1947, 1947
The Penguin underwent quit a few changes during the tenure of Jan Tschihold, Head of Design at Penguin from 1946-1949.  We met him in our reading with the New Typography, and read abouthis influence on graphic design, starting on page 318.  The penguin pretty much stayed the same with slight changes and the addition of a book.  However, in 1948, Tschihold was either on vacation or had a three martini lunch because the logo became the funkiest in the whole series.  Ok, I'm speculating on the three martinis, but really, look at it:


By 1950, Jan Tschihold was no longer at Penguin and the logo got a new, curly look.  This logo lasted for a while, including through Penguin's 25th Anniversary in 1960.
It's the one I remember from paperback books I checked out of the library.

The logo changed again in 1987, with minor changes in 2003 to the bird we would all recognize today.  For their 75th Anniversary, Penguin Books spruced up their logo
by adding an oval orange field to surround the bird.

Bird changed to this style in 1987,
Orange field added in 2010 

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