This year we’ve been celebrating our 40th anniversary and there’s no better reminder of our heritage than the iconic DK logo. Stuart Jackman, DK Children’s Design Director, tracks the evolution of this logo over the last forty years.
When DK was founded in 1974, the company was not a publisher but a book packager and so there was no need for a logo as such. We did need an identity however, so Peter Kindersley’s father, David Kindersley, created a unique font to use on the company stationery. This font was hand-drawn and reflected the calligraphic qualities that David Kindersley was famous for. However it was not a font as such and so couldn’t be used in any typesetting system and only existed as the letters used in the colophon.
A couple of years after the founding of the company, when DK had around twenty books to sell to publishers worldwide, there was a need for a catalogue and David Kindersley created the cover. His design can be seen as the birth of the DK logo!
When DK first became a publisher a logo or some sort of mark was essential for use on the book covers. It was the precomputer age and the first actual logo was an evolution of this catalogue cover. It was hand-drawn and still had the calligraphic qualities with cross-hatching on the “cover” of the book and a very non-mechanical feel. The hand-drawn qualities soon proved to be a difficulty when the logo was used at a small size on spines, with the cross-hatching filling in and the hand drawn lines of the grid breaking up.
To counter this, a new version was created. The number of pages in the book were reduced and the letters D and K were based on the font Garamond.
After DK was aquired by Pearson in 2000 it was agreed that the time was right for a modernisation of the logo. The international design group Pentagram was engaged and part of their brief was to improve the impact of the logo on book covers. In the version below they were able to increase the size of the D and K by around 20% but still keep the logo the same size. They also introduced a less rigid cover with more curves to the book cover which was thought softer and more contemporary. The diagonal grid lines were removed to improve readability.
In 2014 the DK logo has been modified again to improve readability and visibility on the books and in digital products. Even in this digital age the logo is still very much a book and retains much of the feel of David Kindersley’s original.
Being ‘better by design’ is an important part of what makes our illustrated non-fiction books unique and our iconic logo continues to represent the high quality design that is essential to every book we create. So here’s to another 40 years of great design and that open book with two little letters telling you everything you need to know…DK.