PRH’s New Identity: Goodbye to Some Famous Bricks and Mortar

In Feature Articles by Roger Tagholm

New Penguin Random House

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.

The legacy Random House colophon...

The legacy Random House colophon…

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 A sign rooted in bricks and mortar has now been replaced by something that feels more digital, reflecting the changes in the marketplace.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?

About the Author

Roger Tagholm


Roger Tagholm is based in London and has been writing about the book industry for more than 20 years. He is the former Deputy Editor of Publishing News and the author of Walking Literary London (New Holland) and Poems NOT on the Underground (Windrush Press).