By Roger Tagholm
The shutters are banging on the Random House ‘house’ now. Tumbleweed is blowing across its courtyard. Weeds are already growing out of cracks in the walls.
Penguin Random House unveiled its new, worldwide, corporate logo yesterday. It is largely typographic, apart from the prominent penguin, and delivers, according to the publisher, ‘global consistency with local flexibility’. And, says the company, the branding represents the company’s commitment to “the creative core.” (Which means…? What exactly?)
It is hard not to see its arrival as symbolic. A sign rooted in bricks and mortar has now been replaced by something that feels more digital, reflecting the changes in the marketplace.
It is nearly 90 years since the original logo made its debut, back in February 1927. It was the work of the US painter, printmaker, illustrator and writer Rockwell Kent, a friend of Random House founders Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer. As his work heads for the shredder, it’s hard not feel a little wistful as another piece of publishing history passes.
Requiem for a House
(with apologies to Walter de la Mare)
“Is there anybody there?” said the Editor,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the litter
Along Broadway’s filthy floor;
And a bird climbed up out of the turret,
Above the Editor’s head,
A Penguin needless to say
And looking rather well-fed:
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
“Is there anybody there?” he said.
But no one descended to the Editor;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,
Where he stood perplexed and still.
In stead a host of phantom workers:
Bennett Cerf and Alfred Knopf and bookmen of yesteryear
Came and made their presence felt
As if awakened from the dead.
“They’re taking down the logo!” they cried.
“These walls are facing the breaker!
What is your reaction to Penguin Random House’s new branding? Let us know in the comments?