So you had your logo designed and you are ready to share your new brand with the world … and then you send your business cards off to the printer, fantasizing about what it feels like to hand out these new, professional, branded cards… You finally receive the box in the mail only to feel disappointed when you open them and see a fuzzy-looking, crappy business card—to put it nicely—and you are left feeling defeated, confused, underwhelmed. Hopefully the printer warned you of this prior to making the print run (as any good printer would). But if not, I wrote this for you.
I receive inquiries about recreating logo files often. And usually, it’s because a client doesn’t have all of the logo file types they need. So, I created this to help you get the files you need right from the start. (If you’re working with another designer, I suggest running the below list of file types by your designer to ensure you have each of them in the correct format as a final deliverable.)
Let’s start with the type of file the logo should originate from: AI or EPS
An AI file is short for Adobe Illustrator. If you’re paying someone to help you create a logo it should be created using a vector-based application, like Adobe Illustrator. A vector file is a file created using points and paths to render a shape in a mathematically and infinitely scalable format (imagine your logo on the moon!). This means that you can print them on a large sign, add them to a billboard, have them turned into embroidery, an animation, a special stamp, or perhaps a wax seal—the sky is the limit with vector files. You’ll want your designer to save the AI file as an EPS—that’s the file you’ll need for future printing projects. An EPS file stands for Encapsulated PostScript. It’s basically a fancy way of saying a vector file—or a mathematical formula that establishes points on a grid. Have I lost you yet?
Ask for a vector-based PDF file
While your designer is at it (still in Illustrator) ask for a PDF file. EPS files are needed for your brand library and future use, but chances are you won’t be able to open them from your computer (unless you have Adobe design programs). PDFs can also be vector-based files when saved from Illustrator or other vector-based software. Have your designer save the vector art as a PDF so you can view it from your computer. What is a PDF anyway? It stands for a Portable Document Format and was originally created by Adobe to enable users to open up different files across operating systems, programs, and now devices.
One more Illustrator-based file you’ll need: SVG
Next up on your list of Illustrator files is an SVG file. This happens to be my personal favorite file type because it has so much information packed into a small file size. This file type enables logos to come across crisp and clean across devices on the web. SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphics—and is an XML-based vector graphic that can scale and be manipulated using code. Creating this file is as easy as hitting File > Save As > Format > SVG and, voila!, you will have the perfect file type for your web designer to render your logo online.
The final two file types to request: PNG & JPEG
These two files are good to have for your use on social media and other platforms that aren’t currently supporting SVG files. Both are rasterized files—meaning that they are converted into pixels. Pixel-based files cannot be scaled up/enlarged. It’s important to request a specific dimension for these files. For instance, if you are using a 50 x 50 pixel (px) JPEG file but the requirements are 250 x 250 px the image will be scaled x5 and will look pretty awful in return—in other words, pixelated. I like to send logo files that are 1000 px or more for the client’s library. That way they can reduce the size if needed but they are working with a larger file type to begin. Why do you need a PNG and a JPEG(JPG)? PNGs have the ability to save a transparent background. JPGs are similar to PDFs, in that anyone can open them. I use them as a last resort. Whatever you do—do not save over the files sent to you—get into the practice of “saving as” so you don’t lose that original quality.
Let’s recap …
If you are printing or rendering your logo in a tactile medium, it’s best to use an EPS file (it’s good practice to include the vectorized PDF file for viewing purposes). If you are sending your logo around to your social circles to celebrate the beautiful design, send along a PDF. If you are passing your logo off to your web designer, send them an SVG file. They may request a PNG or JPEG but ask them why they can’t use an SVG… after all you just spent time and money on your new logo design. Showcase it in the best possible light. Finally, when you add your brand to all of your social media and email marketing platforms, upload a PNG. On the odd occasion, you might need a JPG file, but this can usually be a last resort if you have all of the other file types listed above. (I anticipate that SVGs will be supported by most social platforms very soon, so once that happens, I would use SVGs instead.)
And here’s a quick cheat sheet for you:
AI/EPS: A Vector-based file that is scalable and can be used in a variety of formats (and sizes!) while still looking crisp and clean. It’s the most important logo file type to have!
Vector-based PDF: A vector file you can open on your computer if you don’t have Adobe Creative Suite programs
SVG: The best file type to use on the web
PNG & JPG: Rasterized files used in specific sizes for social and other small-scale places
I hope this helps. Here’s to beautiful logos, and having the right file types to showcase them!