• Transform magazine
  • June 20, 2018

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Love is in the air for major romance publisher

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Love is in the air this Valentine’s Day. Perennial publisher of romance novels, dating back to 1908, Mills & Boon has now become a major e-book player as well. The shift to digital, and the growing trend toward modern romance spurred by e-readers and a general broadening of the readership, specifically to encompass the young adult segment, meant that Mills & Boon’s brand was ‘disorienting’ and ill-suited for purpose in 2018.

Responding to these challenges, the publisher, owned by Harlequin, worked with Pentagram to reimagine itself as a digital publisher and one that is more friendly to modern readers. The new strategy is centred around the positioning of ‘instant romantic indulgence’ and relying on the massive brand equity available in the Mills & Boon name.

The new brand system is designed to be versatile. It can now flex across the wide range of Mills & Boon’s offering – from YA novels to classic serials to digitally published fiction. This helps unite the range in a way that its previous reliance on stock imagery and colour blocking could not.

Pentagram writes, “The system and resulting style guide use a combination of tight crops and filters for the imagery, alongside considered typography and flexible colour palettes. This removes unnecessary and trite elements from the composition, focusing instead on the characters. 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.”

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The new brand coincides with the launch of Harlequin’s DARE sub-brand which features empowered women in romantic settings. “Harlequin DARE is for readers looking for emotionally intense, sexually charged stories featuring powerful, fearless and fun alpha-heroines,” says Dianne Moggy, vice president of editorial for Harlequin. “Balancing explicit sex scenes with relatable dilemmas and challenges faced by the characters, they are the perfect quick, escapist romance fix for 21st century women.” DARE titles will be published each month on a digital-first model.

The new brand has rolled out across Mills & Boon’s various touchpoints and will allow for the publisher’s 20 plus imprints to retain their own identities while building closer ties to the Mills & Boon brand.

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