It isn’t surprising how much money companies are willing to spend on a logo. Did you know that the most expensive logo in the world cost $1,280,000,000? That was Symantec, integrating the Verisign logo into their own.
The UK’s BBC spent $1.8 billion on its logo, which is just three boxes with the letters ‘B’, ‘B’, and ‘C’ in them. The logo is the most easily identifiable aspect of a business, transcending language and culture. That’s why the Coca-Cola brand is now recognized by 90% of the entire population of Earth!
So you’re in the process of having your business logo designed, or perhaps going through a rebrand. If you recently commissioned a logo designer to prepare a website logo, you should know that they will probably send a bunch of different files, and in different formats. At first glance, understanding logo file formats seems a bit confusing.
Your focus will obviously be on the brand, but in some cases, certain file formats might not look as good in print, or when uploaded to your website or social media channels. That’s probably because you aren’t using the right file format.
In most cases, the original logo is a vector image (don’t worry if you’re not sure what this means – we’ll explain that in a bit). But, logo designers often use different formats or even compress their images to save space. But, how do you know which logo file format you should use?
In this article, we’re going to discuss the basics of logo file formats, and guide you on how to choose the right logo file format.
Why Do You Need Different Logo File Formats?
Different logo file formats are required because you’ll want to build a profile on different platforms without sacrificing image quality. Certain file formats deliver pristine image quality, but at a cost: the file size is too high.
Other file formats compress the images, reducing file size, but also quality. Some, on the other hand, are used for maintaining maximum color accuracy. It’s not that one particular logo file format has an edge over others; they all serve specific purposes.
Raster vs. Vector Images
All digital artwork formatting can be divided into either raster or vector images. Before we talk about the different file formats, it’s important to understand what they mean.
Raster images are essentially images widely used in digital applications. This means any standard image that you see is usually a raster image. If an image pixelates when you zoom in, it’s a raster. Common file format extensions for raster files include JPG, PNG, and TIFF.
Vector images generally consist of thin lines and curves. Every line and a curve is calculated by the computer almost as though it was a graph line, which means that scaling it up simply means redrawing the graph so that the lines and curves remain crystal sharp no matter how big you blow it up – go planet sized if you wish!
The key distinction between raster and vector images is that the latter doesn’t tear up when you zoom in. Logos are always designed in vector formats, as they can be scaled without affecting the quality of the file.
Understanding Different Logo File Formats
Logo file formats are denoted by their extension. Some of the most common logo file formats you might have come across include:
Now, let’s break each of these down and understand the differences.
AI — Adobe Illustrator
Adobe Illustrator is a popular program used by graphic designers. AI files are generally vector images and are used by designers to create logos. Essentially, you can edit the logo as much as you want without letting it affect the quality of the image.
However, to open Adobe Illustrator files, you’ll need the eponymous software program. In general, designers usually convert these files into other formats so you can access them.
In some cases, designers also use PSD (Photoshop) or CDF (CorelDRAW) for designing logos. These are only accessible with specific applications.
PDF — Portable Document Format
This is arguably the most common file format. Designers usually provide a PDF version of logos, and in some cases, it might be a vector-based image. You can open PDF files through your browser, or through Adobe Acrobat Reader.
PDF files aren’t just limited to logos; you can export many types of documents or images to PDF too. The quality differs too since users have the option to export for web or print. The latter is obviously higher quality, though the image size is greater.
SVG — Scalable Vector Graphic
SVG files are primarily vector images that are created for use on the web. They are used for logo designs, icons, or for basic graphical elements. SVG is the most popular choice for designing logos since the file size is nominal, and they have a transparent background.
Compared with alternatives such as JPG or PNG files, SVG offers a crisper, sharper image. So, when sifting through the files sent by your designer, make sure an SVG file is included.
SVG files are supported by virtually any graphic processing program, and you can even open them on your browser. Compared to PNG or even JPG, SVG files are lighter in size too.
EPS — Encapsulated PostScript
EPS files are also quite popular and are used by many logo designers. Ideal for print use, these are vector images ported from Adobe Illustrator. This allows you to scale your files for print without much of a hassle.
If you want to send images to your designer for making any changes, you should generally use the EPS or the AI file. This allows them to make changes to the source without letting it affect quality.
In many cases, designers use EPS for future editing too. But, it might be a wise idea to check software compatibility first before you start working with EPS files. Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop are both capable of opening EPS files.
PNG — Portable Network Graphic
PNG files are used primarily for a wide range of digital applications. These are generally available with transparent backgrounds, allowing users to add background images. PNG files don’t lose their quality when you compress them, and can easily portray millions of colors.
They are used commonly for featured images, social media profiles, cover photos, and as a letterhead on Microsoft Word or Google Docs.
JPG — Joint Photographic Experts Group
JPG or JPEG files are raster images, so they are not ideal for designing logos. The file size is incredibly small, which is why they are so popular for use on websites. Also, they don’t support transparent backgrounds.
To make JPG files work properly, you need to make sure that they are of the right size and resolution. JPG files support 24 bits of color, letting designers work with 16 million colors. (Oh, and don’t worry about the extra ‘E’ in ‘JPEG’ – both formats are exactly the same. It’s just that early versions of Windows couldn’t cope with four letter extensions!)
Frequently Asked Questions
Which type of file format is best for a logo?
SVG files are the best for designing and displaying logos on the web. That’s because SVG files have a smaller sile size, support transparent backgrounds, and have a higher resolution.
Is PNG or JPG better for logos?
Between JPG and PNG, the latter is the better choice. It supports transparent backgrounds, offers a higher resolution, and they’re scalable too. However, PNG files are bigger than JPG files (because PNGs don’t lose any data, whereas JPG do use lossy compression, which means some data is permanently removed)
What is the EPS format for logos?
An EPS file, also known as Encapsulated PostScript, is a vector graphic file. It doesn’t store your logo as a standard image, instead of saving it using curves, lines, and joints.
Is SVG the same as EPS?
SVG is ideal for use on web publishing platforms, whereas EPS is a legacy format that was designed for print applications.
Which Logo File Format Is Best For Use on Websites?
For web or digital use, you should consider using PNG or SVG files. This ensures responsiveness for visitors who access your site through different screens. For the best color reproduction, it’s important that the files are saved in an appropriate RGB color format.
For printing logos, the best format that you can use is AI, EPS, or PDF. These formats give you the highest resolution, which ensures your logo will be printed in the highest quality, and you’ll want to switch to CMYK color format.
When consulting with your designer, it’s also important that you get a transparent logo file. Remember, JPG files are not transparent, but PNG or other popular formats can be. That’s why it’s important for you to get all the relevant file formats from your designer.