5 x Logo File Formats You Should Have (and Keep)

by | Sep 9, 2019

As graphic designers, we’re in the business of making things look good.
But we also need to make sure things work properly, and that means ensuring our clients’ ‘brand toolkits’ contain everything they need.

Over the years, a company’s logo will be used in hundreds of different ways – online and offline, full colour and mono, big and small. And in our role as ‘brand guardians’, we obviously want to make sure it looks great wherever and whenever it appears.

Most of our clients know that a quality logo is a genuinely-valuable business asset. But it’s still surprising how often we’re supplied logos in formats that are inappropriate (and unusable) for the job at hand.

Assuming the original logo was professionally designed, the designer should have created and supplied the ‘master’ logo in various file formats for their client’s future use.

What are those file formats? Well…things get slightly more technical at this point. But bear with us, and you won’t regret it…

Firstly, there are two main categories of logo design file: raster and vector.

1. Raster files end with .png and .jpg (or .jpeg) file extensions.
Intended for online use, raster files are usually created using RGB colour mode. RGB stands for Red, Green and Blue, which are the colours used to make up all the colours you see on your computer or mobile phone screen.
The files are made up of hundreds/thousands of tiny, square, coloured pixels, which means when you increase the size of your logo, it’ll soon look blurry or ‘pixelated’.

That’s why a logo should ALWAYS be created in a vector format.

2. Vector files end with .ai, .pdf, .eps or .svg file extensions.
Because they’re made from mathematically-precise points, these can be scaled to any size without losing quality.

If you need something professionally printed (a business card, leaflet, brochure, exhibition stand, packaging, promotional merchandise etc), or if you want a designer to create artwork for any of those items, a vector file is a must-have.

With the exception of SVGs (which are used online), vector files are intended for print use, so they’re created using CMYK colour mode. CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black – the 4 colours used to make up any colours during printing.

Still with us? OK, so let’s delve a bit deeper into the different file formats. Firstly the rasters…

.jpg – This stands for ‘Joint Photographic Experts Group’
A .jpg can be saved as either a high-resolution CMYK file (for print use), or a low-resolution RGB file (for online use).
.jpgs are usually a logo in the middle of a white background and we’re often supplied them as a company’s primary logo file BUT they’re actually the worst format of all. Why??…
1. Because .jpgs are created at one, fixed size, scaling them up makes them look pixelated.
2. Because they usually have a fixed white or coloured background, they often look awful when placed onto another colour or an image. Imagine your beautiful logo sitting in an ugly white block over a beautiful image – not very appealing?!
Best for: online

.png – This stands for ‘Portable Network Graphic’
Like .jpgs, .png logo files lose their sharpness if they’re blown up BUT because they usually have transparent backgrounds (and no nasty white box to spoil things), it’s much easier to place them over colourful backgrounds or images.
Best for: online. Not recommended for print.

And now the vector file formats…

.ai – This stands for ‘Adobe Illustrator’ (the commonest logo design software).
The .ai file is the designer’s original, editable, working file and can be saved to other file types via exporting.
Not all designers are happy supplying clients this format, but we always do.
Best for: everything! (as long as someone can open and edit it using Adobe Illustrator software)

.eps – This stands for ‘Encapsulated PostScript’
This vector file can be opened by many softwares, including older versions of Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw.
As one of the most versatile file types, printers and designers often favour it and request it.
Best for: print

.svg – This stands for ‘Scalable Vector Graphic’
Ideal for two-dimensional graphics (like logos) and supporting interactivity and animation, .svgs are the standard format for displaying vector graphics online. .svgs will look sharp whichever screen or device you’re viewing them on.
Best for: online

So…whenever we work on a logo design project, our clients always get a folder containing their ‘master’ logo in these 5 x formats:
1. .ai
2. .eps
3. .svg
4. .jpg
5. .png

(And then all they have to do is keep them somewhere safe – and try their best not to ‘fiddle’ with the formats).

“If you do it right, it will last forever.”

Massimo Vignelli