A team at Pentagram led by Angus Hyland has developed a new visual identity for Mills & Boon, a prolific publisher of romantic fiction. The project was developed from a “core proposition of ‘instant romantic indulgence’ alongside the brand idea of ‘the heart of romance’”. The publisher releases around 120 titles a month, that usually rely on stock images for covers.
The new identity saw Pentagram rethink the “supersized ampersand that had previously dominated visuals, shifting the focus to the whole Mills & Boon name”, and it created a style guide that uses a combination of tight crops and filters for cover imagery, alongside specified typography and flexible colour palettes. “The resulting covers allow readers to project their own fantasies onto the Mills & Boon promise, and are more appealing in a today’s retail environment,” says Pentagram.
Mills and Boon was founded in 1908 by Gerald Rusgrove Mills and Charles Boon, and in recent years it has seen its consumer base shrinking. The redesign is a product of a research project that spoke to over 1000 potential consumers in the UK uncovering that people found the content favourable, but the branding, cover design, finish and series model a “significant barrier”.
“The contemporary new brand mark reduces the scale of the ampersand and places it in the natural position between the founders’ names. The ampersand’s rose has been replaced with subtle heart-shaped geometry, a more universal signifier of romance that places the brand idea at the centre of the new mark,” says Pentagram. “A key focus while developing the identity was to create a system that could flex and scale based on the series and its subject matter. The overarching brand can live on its own strength when required, but can also work in tandem with Mills & Boon’s diverse range of series.”
“As well as the overarching brand, Pentagram worked with Mills & Boon to streamline its series model, developing directional concepts that serve as a standard for its in-house team,” explains the agency. “For example, the aspirational Modern series borrows from the aesthetic of style magazines, delivering a contemporary elegance that places the focus on characters. The seductive Dare series combines a bold series mark, minimal covers and sensual black and white imagery to create a subtle and provocative aesthetic.”
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