Mills & Boon, the U.K. counterpart to Harlequin romance novels, refreshed its cover art to appeal to a younger audience

When readers hear the name Harlequin, they probably imagine costumed muscle men embracing ladies with heaving bosoms. The titillating romances, with titles like Conquering the Cowboy and One Night with a SEAL: All Out, All In, have enjoyed a loyal following despite a less-than-classy image.

When Mills & Boon, Harlequin's U.K. counterpart, saw a decline in readership, it surveyed 1,000 potential young readers in an attempt to learn why its brand didn't appeal to them. The results showed that romance and sex are still big sellers, but people were embarrassed to be seen with the cheesy cover art of a typical Mills & Boon novel.

So the publisher hired design studio Pentagram to rebrand the romance novel for a modern audience. The project began with a new logo in a clean sans serif font, with an ampersand that has the hint of a heart without being too obvious. Redesigned book covers feature black-and-white photography and have an edgier look.

“Clearly, we wanted to put it into an audience more used to seeing Netflix, who would happily sit down and watch The Crown or Downton Abbey,” designer Angus Hyland told Co.Design. “Why should it have to feel like something only a granny would pick up?”

Mills & Boon | Pentagram

 

When readers hear the name Harlequin, they probably imagine costumed muscle men embracing ladies with heaving bosoms. The titillating romances, with titles like Conquering the Cowboy and One Night with a SEAL: All Out, All In, have enjoyed a loyal following despite a less-than-classy image.

When Mills & Boon, Harlequin's U.K. counterpart, saw a decline in readership, it surveyed 1,000 potential young readers in an attempt to learn why its brand didn't appeal to them. The results showed that romance and sex are still big sellers, but people were embarrassed to be seen with the cheesy cover art of a typical Mills & Boon novel.