“All we have is this jpeg,” is something a designer does not want to hear when inquiring about your company’s logo.
Working with a company that specializes in branding and logo design is not uncommon, but it’s vital to know exactly what you will be receiving once the design is finalized. After a dozen years of working with a variety of companies, we’re not surprised to hear something like, “Can’t you just save the logo from our website?”
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, “Nope.”
Google “branding logo design” and results will show dozens of companies that do this – and do it well – but asking important questions is vital before you finalize the deal.
- What logo file formats do you deliver? Will I receive a suite of logos in all formats? (This will give you more flexibility in possible uses of your logo.) What formats do you provide?
- What variations of the logo do you deliver? For example, you may need these variations or others:
- Color/Black and white
- Reverse colors
- Just your icon alone
- With/without tagline(s)
For the first question, let’s define logo file formats so you know what to ask about. There are two image formats used to design and save your logo: rasterized images and vector images. In the simplest of explanations, manipulation of raster images is limited. What you get is what you see. With vector images, they can be edited or changed – sizes, colors, orientation, whathaveyou.
Raster logo images include file formats like png, jpg/jpeg, tiff, and gif. Web designers generally save these files at a resolution of 72 dots per inch – a small file size but optimal for web- and mobile device-viewing. They’re saved small so they deliver a quicker page-loading time than higher resolution images.
Why does this matter? You’ve surely seen a printed image in a store or maybe even printed one yourself in which the picture or logo looks like it is made of blocks. People look blurry or blocky and the logo looks, well, unprofessional.
Therefore, image files, including logos, that are on websites are typically not good enough quality (or high enough resolution) to be used properly in print materials. Also, if you attempt to increase the size of your existing logo, even for online use, it will appear to be lower-quality, which we call pixelated.
Raster files are regularly used by designers and are effective when used as designed. For example, PNG files offer high quality with crisp edges – and the added benefit of transparency, which can help designers place a logo on top of an image, without seeing a white background behind the logo. PNG files can also be re-saved without losing image quality.
If you need a logo at a certain size and shape, and your jpeg is that size and shape, it’s all going to be great. But if you try to double the size of that logo, you’re going to run into trouble.
Vector files are most often saved as EPS files, and can be scaled to any size without losing quality. The most-popular program for creating vector logos is Adobe Illustrator. This is also the program that would likely be used to edit or update vector file – if it is saved as an EPS or “native” file. (Since anyone without Illustrator can’t open or view eps files, vector files can also be saved as PDFs so they can be viewed by most programs that display images.)
If you are working with a third party to create or update your logo, it’s a good idea to ask for both raster and vector versions of your logo or logos. The vector may cost you more, because it has more flexibility. For example, your logo may be used for a print project where multiple sizes of the same logo are being used. A raster PNG file of your logo may be able to be safely sized down but sizing it up will cause it to lose quality, and not look crisp and clean when printed. A vector file can be sized up and down and the quality stays exactly the same.
For more on raster and vector files and different file types, we’ve put together a free download PDF for you, “Your Logo File: Which file type should you use.”
Going back to the second question about variations, you may want to enquire with a designer about what they intend to deliver. It’s very common for businesses to have different shaped logos, depending on their use. If your existing logo is horizontal, you may want to have a square version created, or even a simplified version that doesn’t include elements like taglines.
Even if you aren’t doing print marketing or cross-marketing with other companies at this time, it’s good to be prepared for the future. For example, your company’s logo might one day appear on a poster for an event, and the design only allows for square-shaped logos. If you think you’ll ever order branded clothing, hats or promotional products, you’ll need the vector file – and you may need it in a one-color format, or black and white. If you already have these variations, you’re ahead of the game, and more flexible to respond as needs arise.
Once you have a suite of logo files, it’s also a good idea to have branding guidelines in place to be used in-house and with third parties. With variations available, it can be too easy to go off-brand. We helped a client to create and operate with consistent branding in order to help solidify their visibility in a crowded marketplace.
A simple PDF that includes all approved versions of your logo that also explains how your logo is allowed to be displayed or NOT to be displayed will help minimize any confusion.
We’ve assisted several companies in the development or evolution of their corporate logos, and we’re always available to answer questions. Give us a shout, anytime.