Your Company Logo — a checklist of file types you should have
Nearly everyone in your organization will need to work with your company's logo at some point. Either someone from outside will request a copy of it or you'll need the logo for some sort of communication material you're creating in-house. Do you have all the file types you might need, and do you know for what purposes to use them?
Before we get into the checklist, let's make sure we have a basic understanding of pixel-based vs. vector-based graphics because your logo files will be one or the other of these two types:
Pixel-based graphics (also known as bitmap graphics or raster images) are made up from many tiny squares (or ‘pixels’) within a fixed-sized window. Scaling down pixel-based graphics to smaller dimensions is usually not a problem. But scaling up pixel-based graphics to a size larger than their original almost always means there will be degradation of the image like blurriness, artifacting and jagged edges. The versions of images you see on the web were uploaded as pixel-based images. Example file extensions: psd, jpg, gif, and png.
Vector-based graphics are mapped out using mathematical equations, with points and lines to control direction and proportions. Vector-based graphics are easily scaled to any size without any loss of quality. Many of the images you see on the web started out as vector-based images but were converted to pixel-based images. Example file extensions: ai, eps, and editable pdfs.
The logo file “must have” checklist:
1. jpg file, small (around 2 inches or so, or 144 px, at 72 dpi)
This is a small fast-loading file size great for web viewing. Most everyone has ready access to this first item on the checklist.
But, if this is the only file you have for all the file requests you will receive — you have a problem. In print, (which requires 300 dpi), this image will print clearly no larger than .48 inch — yes, less than 1/2 inch! Your options will be limited to having your logo used small but clear, or enlarging this pixel-based file and having your logo print up blurry and pixelated.
2. jpg file, medium (around 3 inches or so, but at the higher resolution of 300 dpi)
If this is too large, it can be easily scaled down. This kind of file is easy for you to use directly in your own Word documents, or to supply to print or design professionals for use in creating brochures, fliers, etc. In addition, you may need to supply your logo to other businesses or event representatives to use in recognizing you as a sponsor.
3. png file, medium, with transparent background (3 inches, 300dpi)
The white background of a jpg file keeps graphic designers from being able to put your logo on a colored background or over a photo image without an annoying white square backing it. The flexibility of a png with a transparent background is always appreciated.
4. ai, eps, or editable pdf (the most desirable format)
All these are vector-based graphic formats. You may not be able to open a .ai or .eps file unless you have professional graphics software. However, your designer and printer will and vector files are what allow print and design professionals to scale up your logo to whatever size they need for sign-making, posters, and other marketing or promotional materials.
This is the outline view of an Illustrator, or .ai file. Each point can be selected and edited individually, changing the shapes within the design as desired. Taken out of outline view, the design will show all the colors and effects it was created with.
5. Checklist items 1, 2, 3, and 4 in black and white versions
Some logos have many colors or use gradients, and you will want to work with your designer to come up with a version for situations when the logo will be restricted to just one color (like t-shirts, trophies, etc).
6. Color and font information
For many logo and visual identity development projects, the creation of a formal brand style guide will be included as a deliverable. If you don't have such a document, it's helpful to know your visual identity’s color formulas and which fonts are used in either the text of your logo or in other brand identity elements. This means instead of saying the blue used in your logo is “a light kind-of green/blue,” you can supply the RGB, CMYK and HEX formulas and doing so will help ensure your logo will look consistent every time it is seen. Your designer will have the answers to these questions, just ask.
Now you know what you need, there is one more question that should be addressed:
Whose responsibility is it to request these files and then keep track of them?
a) the designer, this is surely a part of their design service b) the printer, they keep eternal records of these sorts of things c) the client, who will never have to wait, worry, or fail to have what is needed so they planned ahead
Test Results:If you chose a) or b): you have absolute confidence that these businesses will continue to operate and be passed down to future generations with all their records intact, and you have judged yourself willing and able to cope with a full range of possibilities ranging from mild frustration to disaster. Yay you—stand by your client rights!
If you chose c): it is obvious you seek to live a life free from blame, and you are ready to become a master of responsibility. Take your checklist, act on it, and go in peace.
Seriously, when you are actively working with a designer, they will create these file types in the process of designing your collateral. They will also supply appropriate files on your behalf to various vendors that will create materials. But when you leave this relationship, you should request these file types and keep them for your own records.