What Type of Logo Files Do You Need?

Cynthia Bartz • June 23, 2015
You never know where your business is going to take you. I know, today all you are thinking about is “I need a logo to put on my business card. I don’t need anything fancy, so this one, small jpg file is fine. Right?”. Maybe. But that’s just for right now. What if down the road you decide you want to launch a website, or send some direct mail, or sponsor a race, or even get a billboard? That one jpg file is not going to be enough. At some point you will have to shell out money to have your logo vectorized or have the color changed, or maybe just start over with a new logo. You need to have the right logo files in your pocket now, not later.

It is better to start with all the logo files you may need, rather than trying to track down that freelancer you hired.

You have big, big dreams for your company. And to represent your company well you will need to have a folder full of logo files for every marketing and branding occasion.

Why JPGs Just Don’t Cut it Anymore

JPG files are notorious for degrading over time. JPG files, by design, compress the data in the file to make the file size smaller. This is great for web images or photos of your cat, but not so much for logo files. With repeated editing, JPG files lose some of their data, and therefore quality, over time.

Over the course of your business your logo will be opened, saved, dropped into programs, exported, and printed more times than you will be able to count. Each time that JPG file is opened and resaved you are degrading the quality of your logo.

Logo File Examples

In the image above the far left logo is an old JPG that has been saved and opened and saved and opened and saved, over and over and over. In the old JPG logo file the red in the hands is distorted, the edges of the letters are deteriorated, and the white background has picked up some artifacts.

The middle logo has been stretched beyond its original resolution and looks out of focus or pixilated. Neither of these is ideal to represent your business. But if you only have that one JPG logo file, this is what you’ll be left with. People associate quality marketing with a quality business. If you are putting out a poor quality image it is easy for consumers to make the leap to “This company doesn’t care”, even if that is far from reality.

The last logo was a vector file used in Photoshop. Photoshop will retain the vector data, so when you go to export the JPG or PDF or any other file format you will get the best quality resolution logo for the particular application.

At some point you will probably notice your JPG logo picking up artifacts or just not looking stellar in general, like the first logo in the image. Thankfully, if you have the vector version of your logo, this is never a problem. You can always go back to the vector and save out a new JPG when needed.

Most of the time a designer will use and want the vector file. The JPG file is for that critical PowerPoint presentation you are going to give, posting to social media, or other applications where vector files are not accepted. The JPG file is still essential to represent your business, but it has a time and place when it should be used.

When in doubt, send the vector file.

You want your logo to look crisp and beautiful on every business card, advertisement, sales sheet, website, blimp, etc. Most of the time your designer will request a particular file format that best suits the project. For example, if you are printing one color t-shirts, your t-shirt vendor will probably request a black, vector version of your logo. And if you take out ad space in a magazine they might request the full color, PNG version of your logo.

If the designer or vendor doesn’t request a specific format, you always want to send the full-color vector file. A skilled designer will be able to use this file in any application and tailor it to their needs. The vector file will allow them to convert the color to white, scale up as needed in print, create an embroidery file for polos, or what ever other manipulation is required.

Know Where Your Logo Files Are. They Are Precious.

I can’t tell you the number of times I have requested a logo file from a client and they don’t have a copy on file, or they can’t find it. It is super important to keep track of your logo files. When you receive your logo files from your designer save them in a place that you can find them. Then save back up files. And then more back up files. Even if you work with a specific freelancer or marketing company for all your design needs, you should have a copy for yourself. At some point that freelancer might move to London or the marketing firm go under, then you will be left with lots of beautiful design work, and no logo files to continue your marketing efforts.

Your logo is your branding lifeblood. Don’t stab yourself in the foot by losing track of your logo files.

My recommendation is to create a folder called “Marketing & Branding”. This folder will contain all files related to your marketing: logos, branding guide, brand photos, your business card print files, stationary files, email signature, etc. Inside of this folder create a folder called “Logos”. This is where all of your logo files live in all their many variations.

What Logo Files Do You Need?

Depending on your brand you may need more variations then are listed below. In the end you should have at least nine logo files.  This is a basic list to get you started. Your designer may send you more sizes or variations specifically for social media or email signatures. If your designer sends only one logo file request the full color vector file. The vector file is the most fundamental logo file you can have and is a requirement if you ever plan on marketing.

Minimum Color Variations:
Full Color

Files for each Color Variation:
.eps (or other vector)
.jpg (large)
.png (large)

Full Color Logo – For most brands this is the preferred logo. Use this version as often as possible. Example applications: website, web banners, all print media, business cards, signage, email marketing, etc.

White Logo – Both the white and black logo are simplified, one-color logos. These should be used when it is cost prohibitive to print in full color or when the design calls for simplicity. Generally white logos will be used on backgrounds that are at least 30% dark in value, or as your branding guide calls for.

Black Logo – The black logo is a simplified, one-color logo. It should be used when it is cost prohibitive to print in full color or when the design calls for simplicity. Generally black logos will be used on backgrounds that are at most 70% dark in value, or as your branding guide calls for.

EPS (or vector) – There are several different types of vector files, but EPS is the most popular for logos because it can be opened in a wide variety of programs. This is your default, go-to file format to send for any application. When in doubt, send the vector. It can be scaled infinitely big, because it is math based, and will retain your brand colors accurately.

JPG – The JPG version is most often used in digital applications, think: emails, web banners, website header, social media posts, etc. The small file size allows them to load faster on websites and, if kept at the correct resolution, look stunning as well.

PNG – PNG logo files are most often used because they have the ability to have “clear” backgrounds. This allows you to put your logo on a dark background, or photo, or anything other than white without having that cheesy white box around it. PNGs can be used in the same applications as JPG files and in many cases can be used instead of a JPG. However, when load speed is a factor PNG files will always be larger and may slow you down.

Before your starting on your logo files get the logo planning guide

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