Quirky penguins: Penguin Books Brand Analysis

It’s World Book Day! For all our book lovers out there, here’s a brand analysis of Penguin Books. They’re a British publishing house and part of Penguin Random House (PRH), the largest book publisher as of today. In the 1930s, Penguin Books was the first house to publish today’s modern, inexpensive paperback books. This was a big revolution for the publishing industry.

Fast facts 

  • Name: Penguin Books
  • Parent company: Penguin Random House
  • Origin: London, UK
  • Founding year: 1935
  • Headquarters: City of Westminster, London, UK
  • Key people: Markus Dohle (CEO), Thomas Rabe (Chairman), Madeline McIntosh (CEO, PRH US), Tom Weldon (CEO, PRH UK), Allison Dobson (President, Penguin Publishing Group U.S.), Jen Loja (President, Penguin Young Readers U.S.)
  • Key stakeholders: Employees, book lovers and authors
  • Revenue: €3.4 billion in 2017 (parent)
  • Brand design company: Pentagram
  • Logo designers: Edward Young, Jan Tschichold, Angus Hyland
  • Distribution: UK, Republic of Ireland, India, US, Australia, South Africa, Canada, Spanish-speaking world, Brazil, Germany

Branding strategies

In the past years, many companies have started voicing their opinions and commitment towards CSR (corporate social responsibility). It’s almost like a must-have now in order to attract more customers with the same values.

Instead of CSR, Penguin Books has something called “Creative Responsibility”. They claim to always be creative and take part in making social impact. Meanwhile, Penguin Books has also remained loyal to the same mission: “we make books for everyone, because a book can change anyone.

Regarding their logo, it has been already altered many times over the years. However, they all remained the same iconic and recognizable penguin design. “..the logo has endured because it is simple, because it is easy to identify, and as a brand says quality”. The penguin radiates quirkiness, sharing the same quality as the company.

People familiar with publishing houses will definitely have heard of the “Big 5” publishers. Penguin Random House is the biggest one when annual revenue and number of divisions and imprints are compared. Coming in second, Hachette Livre. Although they have slightly less revenue and imprints, they publish about 20,000 books a year. That is 5,000 more than PRH.

A genuine brand

With their revolutionary paperbacks that have made books more affordable, Penguin Books’s actions aligned with their mission from day one. Even after nearly a century with the same mission, they haven’t stopped taking action. For example, Penguin Random House had created a vision for 2020 with a number of commitments. Some of these consisted of donating millions of dollars and books to authors, readers, schools, libraries and employees.

Next, Penguin Book’s website reveals their achievements, progresses, reports, and more to prove their commitment towards Creative Responsibility. It’s also a place where they specifically explain their ideas and approaches to inclusivity and sustainability.

Brand opportunities

An important part of their brand is to be recognized by the penguin in the bright orange oval, printed on the covers of books. Penguin Books could improve the brand by bringing out more (bestseller) books and have a wider distribution. This way, they could also differentiate more from Hachette Livre and others.

The more book lovers possess their books, the stronger the brand recognition. Even store or library shelves filled with lots of penguins on book spines should do the trick. The quirky logo should interest people enough to look further into the brand. More people will appreciate their actions done so far for Creative Responsibility.

Conclusion

If you have a filled bookshelf (or shelves) at home, it’s likely that at least one of them is published by Penguin Books. Then again, you’ll probably also have some from the Big 5 and many more. It is a competitive industry where PRH takes the lead. Of course, it’s not just Penguin Books that represents them. All other imprints have to improve their brand and they will influence each other.

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