Michael Joseph gets new brand identity

In 1935, British writer and publisher Michael Joseph founded his own imprint and named it after himself. 50 years later, Michael Joseph Ltd, along with some other British and American imprints, was bought by Penguin Books, a prominent publishing house where it has received a leading role as a division specializing in lifestyle books, detective stories, memoirs and women’s fiction. To refresh Michael Joseph’s look, Penguin hired Mother Design which created a brand identity emphasizing the imprint’s heritage and individuality.


Since its founding, Michael Joseph used a mermaid logo that appeared in several iterations over fifty years until the company had become a part of Penguin. However, it’s not clear for what reason Mr. Joseph chose a mermaid as a symbol for his company. Anyway, it has been revived by Mother Design that made it a starting point for the whole brand identity. According to Alec Mezzetti, the agency’s designer, as the imprint had been lost among Penguin’s subsidiaries, the brand overhauling’s goal was to mark out Michael Joseph of the conglomerate’s divisions, as an imprint with its own traditions and “maverick” tendencies.


So, the traditional mermaid emblem has become a central part of Michael Joseph’s new look. In the new logotype redesigned by Mother Design, the mermaid reads a book with the MJ initials on its cover, a detail that tells of the company’s activity. The emblem accompanied by the inscriptions “Penguin” (as a reminder of the parent company) and “Est. 1935” as well as the bigger lettering “Michael Joseph”. All of them are executed in the Maison typface that avoids tropes of publishing, as Mezzetti said. The new brand identity also includes a shade of green, called “aquatic-jade”, as a continuation of the sea motif, that was obviously inspired by the mermaid.