Creating the Right Left logo

A glimpse into the creative process behind the Right Left logo

My brother-in-law and his wife love to play a game called Logo Quiz. Okay, okay. It's not the most creatively-named game, but it's got a great concept. It's a simple game where you identify a company or brand based solely off a small portion of the company's logo. When it comes to Logo Quiz, my brother-in-law is hard to beat. I'm not too shabby, either. In fact, lots of people are fairly good at Logo Quiz. Why?

Because branding is pervasive. It's everwhere we turn. And a company's brand, while made up of many components, rests largely on the brand's logo.

When I sat down to create the Right Left logo, I knew it had to be just right.

There are many great articles online about the characteristics of good logos; so I won't re-hash that information here.  Instead, I'll walk you through the process of how I created the Right Left logo.  Hopefully it provides an interesting glimpse into our creative process.

Step 1: Understanding the Company's Desired Image

At the start of any design project, it's imperative to understand how the company want to be portrayed.  Fun? Professional? Simple? Serious? Industry-Specific?  All of these questions lay the groundwork for the entire process.  In the case of Right Left, we wanted a clean, simple logo that communicated the Right Left Mindset.  We didn't necessarily want to limit the logo to the web development industry, since we hope to provide a growing range of services in the near future.

Step 2: Determine Possible Design Concepts

Having determined the image we wanted to portray, I had to get down to brass tacks.  What sort of concepts or ideas would make sense with the "Right Left" name and our desired image?  The name alone lends itself to several concepts: two sides, arrows, symmetry, opposites.  The philosophy behind Right Left Media's name would suggest using something with two elements that work together to make a larger element that is more complete than its individual parts.  Again, we wanted the logo to be simple and clean.  With all of these thoughts mulling around in my mind, I sat down with my highly specialized tools: a pencil and a notebook.

This is typically how I begin the design process.  I find a pencil and a blank sheet of paper to be much faster and more flexible than any software program. For me, it's a nimble way to work through a lot of ideas quickly.

Pretty early into this process I locked onto the idea of using arrows and the letters R and L to create some sort of mark.  However, I didn't really like any of the results at this point.  I hadn't come up with anything that made the shapes feel cohesive, much less clean or simple. While convinced I was headed in a good direction, I knew I wasn't there yet.

Step 3: Refining the Concepts

Once I had a few general ideas and concepts for the logo, I decided to fire up Adobe Illustrator and work on refining the logo.  I find that many times a change in the design medium (pencil/paper to mouse/screen) can spark a newer, better idea.  That was certainly the case in this situation.  I went through many concepts in Illustrator, creating many interations of the same early themes:

Of all of these ideas, the one that seemed to work the best was the diamond shape, which utilized a lower case "r" and a reversed upper case "L" to create a complete diamond.  Additionally, the "r" had an arrow pointing to the right, and the backwards "L" had an arrow pointing to the left.  Together, the two individual shapes made a larger continuous shape, perfectly conveying the philosophy behind the company's name:

Now that I had settled on a shape, I narrowed my focus. I developed several different variations of the same general shape:

I tried various line widths, angles, rotations, etc. Funnily enough, I liked all them.  In the end, I settled on the far right variation.  It didn't feel too heavy, and it also conveyed the shape of angle brackets, "<" and ">", that are common in HTML, XML, PHP and many other programming languages.  As such, I settled on this variation.

Step 4: Finishing Touches

Lastly, I contemplated different colors and a font to go with the logo.  I toyed with the idea of complementary colors for the "r" and "L" shapes to further convey the idea behind the "Right Left" name.  Unfortunately, the opposing colors created a tension that didn't feel quite right for this particular design.  Eventually I settled on lighter blue and green shades. Admittedly, I feel that most color choices would have worked reasonably well for this design.  

Finally, I settled on a typeface for the "rightleft" portion of the logo that I thought worked well with the logo mark.  I chose "Open Sans", not only because it looks nice, but also because it's a font that works well for web design and was developed with an "open source" mindset, a philosophy that is core to many of the technologies that we use (Drupal, Linux, PHP, MySQL, Apache, etc.).  This is the final result:

Conclusion

Every design project is different, weaving a path of trial and error: defining concepts, trying new ideas while staying within defined constraints, iterating repeatedly until a finished result drops out. I'm proud of the logo that we developed for Right Left Media, and I hope you've enjoyed this inside look at our creative process. Do you have a creative process? How do you like to work? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.