How the right logo files can help you look more professional

I’m not talking about the design of your logo.

Your logo file is LOUSY — I’m not talking about the design of your logo. I’m talking about the file itself. It’s probably lousy! (Lousy logo design is a whole other issue. If think your logo design might need help, read this.)

The simple question, “Can you send over your logo?” can turn into a tumultuous situation for clients and designers alike.

Wasted time. Confusion. Frustration on the client’s end. Pushback from the designer receiving the file. Don’t you wish it was easier? It can be! Here is a short guide to sending the right logo.

Which logo files should you have?

When a logo is created properly it is vector art. Basically, you can make it bigger and wrap it around buildings; it will keep its clarity and a random white box will not pop up behind it (like on the ever-popular JPG files that I know you are guilty of sending around). Vector file formats are created by high-end drawing software and are the industry standard for any graphic design project. Vector-based files usually require professional design software to open, so while they’re VERY important, you won’t be doing too much with them day-to-day. Your vector file logo ends with .eps or .ai.

Assuming you had a designer create your logo, you should have it in several formats:

EPS (and/or AI), PNG, JPG, PDF. You might also have SVG, PSD, GIF, TIF, BMP.

Which logo files should you send? And when?

A JPG isn’t necessarily the answer. If you send JPGs over and over again, it probably leaves the other files feeling rejected and sad — and the person receiving your logo files frustrated and mad. Using which file for what can be confusing for anyone without design experience, so let’s break things down.

Vector-based images should be the starting point of any professional logo design process.

If your designer does not give you a vector file, ask for it. And if your logo is older than the year Derek Jeter started playing for the Yankees—you might just have a vintage logo that needs to have a vector file created for it. Or, did you (gasp) lose your original logo files?

What’s so great about the vivacious vector?

Vector images have unlimited resolution; they can be reduced to wee little things as well as scale tall buildings in a single bound. They are primarily files for printing and to create other formats from. They can be edited by your designer without too much trouble and do not have to have that pesky white background. You can make ALL other logo file formats from a vector file, but the pendulum does not swing both ways.

A PNG logo can only be used at its original size or smaller.

It is considered the universal standard for pristine logo presentation on websites and electronic media, though it’s not fully supported by some platforms. It is a pixel-based image and you know how ugly pixels get when you make them larger.

A JPG logo can only be used at its original size or smaller!

A JPG logo can only be used at its original size or smaller because it is a raster (pixel-based) image. JPGs are primarily intended to be viewed on electronic screens like monitors and TVs. They are difficult to edit if it’s even possible at all. If you only send a JPG of your logo, you are limiting the person receiving it, so the finished product may not turn out as pretty as you would like.

If you do not have the .eps logo file from your designer—call now and ask what gives

You should always send an .eps file along with a .jpg or .png WHENEVER someone asks for your logo. And, to get slightly technical, tell them to convert the .eps file to outline or people will keep coming back to you for your logo fonts.

What to do if you discover that you have a non-vector logo art file.

If you discover that you have a non-vector logo art file, and you need vector art, there’s only one thing to do: hire a graphic designer to re-create your design as vector art — or maybe it’s time to think about updating the design.

So what should you do when someone asks for your logo:

— Always send an .eps (that has been converted to outline) of the logo file, and if possible an svg file as well.

— If you have them you can also send a .png or a .jpg of the logo file just in case

Don’t have those logo file types? You can STOP HERE, ask for those files, and be done with this logo-lovers lesson for now.

Or you can read on for more detail.

Definitions of logo file types:

An EPS file of your logo can be imported into other design software. It is unlimited resolution and can be enlarged without the image looking like poop. It can be edited (with appropriate software and technical knowledge) and used as a source file for other file types. It is primarily a print file and NOT for use on the web. Keep this file safe from harm. And again, insist that the file you are given has the fonts converted to outline.

An SVG file of your logo is the vector graphics standard for webs publishing, XML-based nature searched, indexed, and compressed easily. So anywhere if you are having web or email work created, this is great to send along.

A PDF file of your logo is important and a mixed bag, kinda like paella. It has the wondrous shrimp and lobster, but someone can throw in those pesky peas and render it useless in my pea-phobic mind. If the PDF was created from a vector file, it can be yummy — but if it was created from a JPG, it’s peas. Here’s why… If created from a vector file, you CAN view a high-resolution vector-based version of your logo without having access to professional design software. Most internet browsers have built-in features that open PDF files, as do most smartphones and tablets. A designer can, in a crunch, also use this as a source file for your logo. In fact, many designers who are afraid of what happens to a good logo once their client gets their hands on it (stretching – gasp!) will forgo both EPS and AI files completely, delivering only a PDF to clients. Like EPS and AI files, a PDF is generally vector-based and likewise features unlimited resolution.

A PNG file of your logo is also made up of pixels and is intended for use on electronic screens. It can feature a transparent background. A PNG is considered the universal standard for pristine logo presentation on websites and electronic media, though it’s not fully supported by some platforms. (Those that don’t support usually convert PNGs to JPGs.) Like JPGs, PNGs are difficult, or not possible, to edit.

A JPG file of your logo is made up of pixels as its main function is used on electronic screens such as part of a website, social media avatar, email signature and the like. It is generally fairly color-accurate but will not be transparent (so that pesky white box will appear). JPGs are usually RGB (Red, Green & Blue) color system for TVs and monitors, so colors may shift badly if used in print. As this is a pixel-based format, original size cannot be enlarged without image pixilation. JPGs can only be used at 100% size or less.

Here are some logo file formats you might have, but will rarely need:

An SVG file of your logo is scalable vector art (remember the vivacious vector from a few paragraphs back?) The format features the scalability features of vector files while still being viewable on websites and other monitor-based applications. The file size is small, but it does have some problems with blended colors (think gradients). An SVG file is good to have, but not a deal-breaker.

An AI file of your logo is not a necessity if you have the EPS file. An AI file contains the same information as an EPS file but requires at least the same version of Illustrator to open as created it, so it’s not as flexible. Overall, these files are redundant, but many designers still ship them to clients as a matter of course.

A PSD file of your logo is like the AI file — it’s a source file for pixel-based images. It requires Photoshop to open and use. It might be high-resolution (monitors are 72 PPI while print is usually 300 DPI). It may be layered (each part of your logo sits on a layer above the others) and as such, limited editing may be possible. No biggie if this file was not supplied to you with your final logo files.

TIF or BMP files of your logo are pixel-based images and might be in high resolution. Both are generally very high-quality files. Think of these as raw image files of your logo. While all other pixel-based files feature some level of degradation, TIF and BMP files are usually 100% of the original. Though compression is available, the file size can be large. Neither has a transparency feature, and they always sit on a colored background. And did I say the size is YUGE?

A GIF file of your logo should be just dragged to the trash on your computer. Even though GIF images are extraordinarily small file sizes, and do feature a transparency function, the GIF can make the color of your logo look wackadoodle and it can appear jagged and heavily pixelated at edges due to the lack of colors to use in smoothing. Trash the sucker.

So now that you read to the end of my logo lovers vs. losers lament please feel free to ask me any questions you might have left about logos…

— Can you look at my logo and see if it is useable?

— Can you convert my logo to a vector file?

— Can you upgrade my logo and give it some razzle-dazzle?

— Why did Derek Jeter retire?

Or, just tell me if you enjoyed these words.

Here’s to smooth, stress-free logo-sending!

And if you need help with your logo… Let’s talk!

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