Logo Story, Apr 2017
Sir Allen Lane

For a company logo, a flightless bird might seem a bit unusual, that too for a company which is on the verge of revolutionising the publishing industry. However, in the last 82 years, Penguin’s logo has become an iconic brand charged with cultural and political significance.


In the earlier days, one needed to be rich or had to buy a library membership in order to read a good back but it is not the case so today. By introducing dirt cheap paperbacks, Penguin books not only transformed the industry but also made the database of books available to every person in every corner of the world.

Penguin paperbacks were the brainchild of Allen Lane, then a director of The Bodley Head. After a weekend visiting Agatha Christie in Devon, he found himself on a platform at Exeter station searching its bookstall for something to read on his journey back to London, but discovered only popular magazines and reprints of Victorian novels.
Appalled by the selection on offer, Lane decided that good quality contemporary fiction should be made available at an attractive price and sold not just in traditional bookshops, but also in railway stations, tobacconists and chain stores.

He also wanted a ‘dignified but flippant’ symbol for his new business. His secretary suggested a Penguin and another employee was sent to London Zoo to make some sketches. Eighty-Two years later, Penguin is still one of the most recognizable brands in the world.

I would be the first to admit that there is no fortune in this series for anyone concerned, but if my premises are correct and these Penguins are the means of converting book-borrowers into book-buyers, I shall feel that I have perhaps added some small quota to the sum of those who during the last few years have worked for the popularization of the book-shop and the increased sale of books. Allen Lane, ‘All About the Penguin Books’, Allen Lane, The Bookseller, 22 May 1935

The first Penguin paperbacks appeared in the summer of 1935 and included works by Ernest Hemingway, André Maurois and Agatha Christie. They were colour coded (orange for fiction, blue for biography, green for crime) and cost just sixpence, the same price as a packet of cigarettes. The way the public thought about books changed forever – the paperback revolution had begun.

We take this book format pretty much for granted today. But it has been and is a wonderful thing. I still recall the wonder of the paperback book as expressed by Carl Sagan when he said, “For the price of a modest meal, you can ponder the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, the origin of species, the interpretation of dreams, the nature of things.”

In the case of Penguin, you can judge a book by its cover.

Penguin became a separate company in 1936 and set up premises in the Crypt of the Holy Trinity Church on Marylebone Road, Westminster, London, using a fairground slide to receive deliveries from the street above. Within twelve months, it had sold a staggering 3 million paperbacks. Traditional publishers tended to view Penguin with suspicion and uncertainty, as did some authors.

“From the Vaastu angle, any publication company with Black colour will have setbacks because the publishing field is ruled by Mercury and Sun.”

As per Vaastu, Publication is always good for logos with orange, grey, white, and red colours. Black colour doesn’t allow the publication to grow faster. Graphically, Penguin as an animal is wonderful because it has a very disciplined life which attributes to the company and hence, they have grown in a mighty way since 1935. They have changed their west looking Penguin face logo to east looking and changed it back again to West looking. This must have created some kind of turbulence in their business and the same swing of business must have taken a shape which they had to succumb to see more than 50% to Random House Publications. Apparently, the Random house logo is much stronger than the Penguin’s logo. This association should bring a lot of happiness to readers and the writing community. From the Vaastu angle, any publication company with Black colour will have setbacks because the publishing field is ruled by Mercury and Sun. Black is ruled by Saturn and creates obstructions to financial growth and overall progress. Orange, White, Red, and Blue colours are better. For instance, the below logos: