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120-Year-Old Peter Rabbit Is Getting a Branding Facelift

Peter Rabbit is looking pretty darn good at age 120, but Penguin Random House says the classic Beatrix Potter character is still getting a facelift this year.

Penguin Random House Children’s division this week unveiled its brand refresh for Peter Rabbit, “with a new world-building identity that places Peter front and centre of the world that Beatrix Potter created almost 120 years ago.”

The Tale of Peter Rabbit is one of the world’s best-loved children’s books, and was created by author and illustrator Beatrix Potter in 1902.  The story has never been out of print since it was first published by Frederick Warne & Co. (today an imprint of Penguin Random House Children’s) and has sold in excess of 45 million copies globally.

Today over two million of her “little books,” as Potter called them, are sold globally every year, and Peter Rabbit has appeared on books, on screen, and in merchandise in more than 110 countries throughout the world.

Now, PRH Children’s says The World of Peter Rabbit brand refresh is being launched ahead of the classic character’s 120th birthday campaign in 2022. The progressive brand identity has been rolled out across social channels and digital platforms, and will appear on publishing and licensed product packaging from autumn this year in the UK. The global launch will begin in parallel with the 120th birthday celebrations next year.

“Peter Rabbit has an incredible legacy that resonates with multiple generations all over the world,” said Izzy Richardson, the Global Owned Brands Director at Penguin Random House Children’s. “We’ve seen the brand evolve through various creative iterations and touchpoints over the course of its 120 year history, and ahead of the birthday milestone, it was important for us to refine and refresh the brand identity, to continue to future proof the brand for a new generation.

“The result is a subtle and contemporary refresh of our ‘running rabbit’ logo complimented by a new design system that can be used across marketing and promotional touchpoints for the brand,” Richardson explained. “It brings energy and adventure to The World of Peter Rabbit, offering our family audience a dynamic and exciting Peter Rabbit experience.”

The World of Peter Rabbit is managed by the Owned Brands Team within Penguin Random House Children’s, who are responsible for initiating and managing the brand refresh.

New products being rolled out by Penguin Random House reflect the brand refresh for classic character Peter Rabbit.

 

 

Penguin Random House Children’s enlisted design agency CreateFuture to lead the project, drawing on early source material to ensure the updated assets continued to reflect the legacy of the brand.  The refreshed logo showcases the iconic Peter Rabbit pose which has been reinterpreted by internationally recognised illustrator Chris Mitchell and now incorporates the title font from the first edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, as well as Beatrix Potter’s signature.  These elements combined act as signifiers of the official and original Peter Rabbit brand.

“Beatrix Potter’s exquisite illustrations are themselves timeless and remain perfectly pitched for physical books,” said Anna Billson, Art Director for Penguin Random House Children’s. “We are continually considering how best to translate the illustrations for a variety of applications while retaining their integrity and unique originality.

“Alongside developing a new design system that enables us to be visually consistent across all iterations of the Peter Rabbit brand, a refreshed logo fuses past, present and future, by combining the classic bespoke Beatrix Potter typeface with a reinterpreted version of the iconic running rabbit.”

PRH says the brand tool kit also includes a newly developed design system – “Hop, Skip, Jump” – consisting of three distinct treatments which can be used to target different audience demographics.

Taking inspiration from Beatrix Potter’s animal and insect illustrations, a series of graphic trails has been created to add energy and narrative to static images.

‘Hop’ uses the trails with a soft and muted colour palette, a gentle application for infant sector, while at the other end of the spectrum, ‘Jump’ uses primary colours on clean backgrounds for a high energy, contemporary application.

“The brief was to create a more contemporary version of the Peter Rabbit character to feature at the heart of the World of Peter Rabbit brand icon,” explains Chris Mitchell, an illustrator with Epic Icons. “Along with the accompanying animal icons the illustrations had to be created in a contemporary solid line vector style to work across multiple platforms and touch points, with clarity of craft at all reproduction sizes.”

That said, Mitchell notes it was also important not to change too much, and risk altering the universal appeal enjoyed by a brand that is still going strong after more than a century in print.

“Retaining the charm, mischief and character associated with the original illustrations was paramount,” he said. “A colorful graphic trail adds energy and flow to each icon, individually crafted to represent the natural movement of each creature.  I approached the work with a genuine sense of care and attention to detail that the World of Peter Rabbit cannot help but demand.  This was to ultimately ensure that the rabbit in the blue jacket remains the icon of love, trust and friendship that we will continue to know and love, long into the future.”

Dave Ward, Creative Director of CreateFuture, echoed that view, saying, “We felt a duty of care to Beatrix Potter’s legacy; to 120 years of memories held by the fans and to ensure that Peter Rabbit remains relevant and loved by the next generation and embraced by new audiences.  Striking the balance between heritage and modernity was always going to be challenging. We are very proud of the result, and hope the fans are too.”

The work certainly impressed Penguin Random House, which said in a statement, “The outcome is a truly progressive brand refresh that has been authentically informed by the brand’s 120 year heritage, whilst simultaneously enabling Peter Rabbit to appeal to contemporary family audiences and a new generation of fans.”

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