“It started with the simple logo and name, suggested, allegedly, by a typist who was earwigging the board meeting. Allen had already hit upon the idea of an animal logo, inspired by the template offered by the contemporary publishing house The Albatross Library. ‘It was the obvious answer, a stroke of genius,’ said the original designer of the Penguin logo, Edward Young. ‘I went straight off to the zoo to spend the rest of the day drawing penguins in every pose.’ The clear logo was matched with the archetypal modern, but not too scarily modern, typeface, Gill Sans, and the now classic three-band cover, with colours related to the subject: orange for fiction, dark blue for biography, etc.”
Quoted from The Guardian.
“Edward Young, who designed Penguin’s famous ‘dignified but flippant’ logo and the colour scheme for its book covers was a submariner during the war. His boat was involved in a collision which saw it sank to the bottom of the North Sea, but Young escaped by swimming to the surface.”
Quoted from jkr’s book Champions of Design.
Edward Young’s obituary in The Guardian.
For content along somewhat similar lines, see the well-known WWF panda logo.