A Proposed, Tentative Logo for Recovery Dharma

Mockup of several versions of a Recovery Dharma logo as seen in a design application
Demo of my proposed logo for Recovery Dharma, showing vertical and horizontal formats, as well as a demo of the free and open-source font Lato which was used to create it. All my work on this is licensed  Creative Commons BY-SA.

TL;DR: I made a logo for Recovery Dharma because we need a visual brand ASAP and I think this one will do the trick, taking advantage of the dharma wheel icon we’ve already been using and the free font “Leto” . I hope it’s helpful to others, and encourage everyone to use it freely in promoting Recovery Dharma in any way. 

Download PNG, EPS, SVG, and more versions of the logo in a single Zip file:

Update 2021-07: Two years later, this logo has effectively become “the logo” for the Recovery Dharma community, used on the recoverydharma.org website as well as digital and print materials across the community.

Summary of the situation and need for a logo

Life is too short for me to write up a full and wholesome description of what Recovery Dharma (Facebook group) is, because we need a logo like yesterday, but here’s a very brief overview for those who haven’t been following Refuge Recovery news, or those in the future who are curious:

  • The law suit between Noah Levine and the board of the original Refuge Recovery non-profit organization finished with a settlement. This document explains the official details: JOINT STATEMENT OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF REFUGE RECOVERY AND NOAH LEVINE ET AL
  • To summarize, the old RR ngo is closing down on Aug 1, 2019, and Noah is starting a new non-profit called Refuge Recovery World Services which will continue the tradition of Noah leading the organization based on his property: The Refuge Recovery book and his trademark for “Refuge Recovery” and the associated logos.
  • At the same time, other members of the old RR movement are starting another new organization, this one called Recovery Dharma. Recovery Dharma will also continue the tradition of RR, being focused on helping people recover from addiction using Buddhist teachings and practice. Recovery Dharma is meant to be a bottom-up organization, “peer-led” in a deep sense.
  • All this has happened extremely quickly, and the temporary leaders of Recovery Dharma did not have a full suite of assets (logos, taglines, etc.) ready when the settlement forced them to announce their existence (though they did have a public draft for an incredible new book called Dharma of Recovery).

I am 100% on board with Recovery Dharma, for so many reasons that are and aren’t fit to print, but you can do your own research as to why that might be.

I made a logo and I hope you like it

Recovery Dharma Logo
The logo, with Dharma Wheel icon and Lato-based logotype. Click to enlarge and download full size. Zip file with many sizes and formats below.

So as we might imagine, the lack of a visual brand for this wonderful new organization gave me an itch that needed scratching, and once I knew what the name would be, I worked on both the concept for one and the actual implementation.

Dharma wheel analysis
Some of the symbolism in the Dharma Wheel icon. Click to enlarge.

The core concept is to use a Dharmachakra, (“dharma wheel”) as the icon. This is a classic Buddhist symbol that represents the entirety of the teachings in one graphic. Because it’s a longstanding mainstay of Buddhism, it will not be unique to Recovery Dharma, but neither is the Dharma itself. Our program is part of a tradition going back thousands of years, and I find beauty in using a symbol that represents this lineage.

The icon itself is not my personal work (I wish), but was bought-and-paid-for from The Noun ProjectDharmachakra, by parkjisun. Many thanks to parkjisun for their beautiful work which has already helped Recovery Dharma immensely (as we’ve been using it for our social media icons, if not as a “logo” ) for the first few days of our existence.

I used Lato, a free font that works in Google Docs and Google Fonts, so we can use it everywhere

One of my design constraints for this project was to use a freely-licensed open-source font, so that anyone will be able to “match” the logo with their related materials, if they’d like to. I further constrained myself to fonts that are available in Google Drive, so that our collaborative documents can match the branding in the logo exactly.

After exploring a variety of fonts of different styles, I settled on Lato, which I find modern, friendly and striking. Google Fonts describes it like this, and I think it’s a great tone for us to strike with Recovery Dharma:

The semi-rounded details of the letters give Lato a feeling of warmth, while the strong structure provides stability and seriousness. “Male and female, serious but friendly. With the feeling of the Summer,”

Download Lato for free »

For bonus points, I find Lato looks great at all sizes and it has several weights (amounts of boldness) available for different uses. It works as a font for long texts as well as for titles and logos.

My hope is that Lato can offer us a branding baseline to create a unified set of documents and websites, all without incurring any licensing costs or constraining us to a particular design platform.

Creating custom logos for your local group

While I can’t offer to create custom local logos for every group, this graphic demonstrates how you can easily use the SVG or EPS files included in the Zip download to create your own local variants:

To summarize: Open one of the vector files (SVG/EPS/Affinity) in your design software, add a third line of Lato Black text below “Dharma”, resize it to “fit in the box” with “RECOVERY” and “DHARMA”, then resize “the box” so that the top and bottom are aligned with the spokes of the dharma wheel.

This pattern can be used for any “third line” of text, as well as putting it above “Recovery Dharma” and it pretty much always looks cool!

You can also do whatever else you want with it! Be creative! This is just an idea I share to make it easy for those who aren’t confident in making their own designs: If you have it lined up like in the image above, with the right font (Lato Black), it’s going to look sharp and professional.

I offer this as dana (a donation) to be used by any Recovery Dharma member for anything they need, forever

To ensure no one ever tries to control use of these documents, I’ve licensed them as Creative Commons BY-SA (Attribution, share-alike), to match the license used for the Recovery of Dharma book. This means you can edit it, remix it and use it for anything you want, as long as you license the resulting work as creative commons.

Ultimately, I don’t plan to take any action against anyone who uses this logo for any reason insofar as it’s my creative work. Please do what you want with it, and don’t worry about crediting me unless you take pleasure in doing so. This is a gift to the community, meant to bring us together and give us an simple and striking brand to spread the word about our old new community.

Download PNG, EPS, SVG, and more versions of the logo in a single Zip file:

And finally a few easy-to-download versions of the logo:

Mockup of several Recovery Dharma logos as seen in a design application.
Light logo. Click to view full size for download.
Dark background RD logo
Dark logo, click to view and download full size


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