PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE UK — Unifying the world’s largest publisher with a shared mission 

Penguin and Random House merged in 2013, forming the world’s largest publisher. Seven years later, the functional aspects of the merger had been completed, but they had failed to unify their internal culture.
        How do you reconcile the differences between two previously competing companies? With numerous independent publishing divisions, imprints and teams, all with their own strategies and goals, the path to unification needed to go beyond branding.
        In a business characterised by breadth and diversity, Penguin Random House needed a mission that reflected the impact they could collectively commit to strive for. A mission that could inspire decision making. And crucially — a mission they could take action with.        

        Alex Johns
        Joe Hewitt
        Daisy Grice
        Alistair Davies
        Vitor Cervi
        Danielle Zezulinski

PRH UK had pursued work like this before, but had never found success in making it relevant and influential for all corners of the business. It was crucial that this work wouldn’t just live in a drawer — and could become a tangible filter for every future decision, creative or commercial.
        In an incredibly collaborative and democratic process, we engaged over 90% of the business over six months, bridging conversations between colleagues and leadership across every division — Editorial to Design, Production to Distribution, Marketing to Publicity. We took the time to understand different voices and perspectives. The process at times was rough, messy and uncertain, while we navigated cultural tensions, strong viewpoints and individual agendas.

How do you capture the perfect words, for people who work with words every day? It wasn’t easy. We explored a huge range of formats, with the ultimate goal of making sure it was incredibly simple, and refreshingly useful. Stripping away all cleverness and worthiness. The outcome was a clear and powerful Mission:

To support the Mission, we created a set of 5 actionable Principles, each carefully articulated to capture PRH UK’s unique spirit, and resonate with every colleague — both individually and collectively:

The success of the Mission didn’t come down to words on a page. It needed to be embraced by and embedded in the business, from publishing houses to distribution teams and everyone in between.
        So we didn’t stop there. We created a Mission launch film, edited entirely from Penguin Random House Archive footage. which was supported by activations, including digital and physical internal comms, an internal “A book that changed…” poster series, onboarding workshop toolkits, and a leadership presentation for every member of staff.

After a successful introduction to the business, the new Mission and Principles have provided a lens for all decision making, commercial or creative. They have shaped the PRH UK website and social media strategies, connecting the brand with readers through original editorial, as well as informing business decisions, recruitment policies, CSR strategy, publishing decisions, partnerships, campaigns and events – all focused on the ‘change’ the Mission inspires.

“I’m immensely proud of what we achieved together through a uniquely collaborative and fundamentally democratic process – one that involved input and investment from everyone across the company. Launching was an important moment but it was just the beginning. Now it’s down to all of us to continue bringing our Mission to life, both in what we do but also how we do it.”

— TOM WELDON, CEO, Penguin Random House UK



London, UK