Logo File Formats Explained: Even Your Clients Will Understand

Resource
August 15, 2018

There’s often a lot of fuss around which files formats to provide clients with when delivering a logo package. You know that you have to provide your client’s logo in a variety of file formats, but which ones?

Clients will often contact you asking for strange file formats or one-off logo file requests. Vendors sometimes use old technologies that require outdated or obscure files. You may be wondering what all these file formats are for and if they are even necessary.

I can tell you with the confidence of experience — the moment you decide to cut a file format from your logo package is the moment that your client will send you an annoying email asking you for it. So don’t give them the opportunity to distract you from your work and upset your design mojo. Make a logo package that Includes all of the file formats described below to cover your bases.

Ok, but which formats and why? I’m getting there, I promise.

The problem with many file format explanations is that they get too complicated. They break down the file formats and discuss things like lossless compression, bit depth, bitmap, raster…the list of jargon goes on. If you’re technically minded and love nothing more than reading a lengthy comparison of file types while you kick back on the beach, then those guides are for you, but I am of the mind that we can keep this pretty simple stupid.

If you’re unsure about what file types to send your client, this is all you really need to know.

Who uses the file format?

The old saying goes, “Different strokes for different folks” right? Well, there are different formats for different folks too. Clients don’t often have much use for a native illustrator design file, and designers don’t really need JPGs for anything. Here’s a break down of who uses what:

Table showing which logo file formats are used by who

What do they use it for?

Logos will end up existing in all sorts of contexts. Sometimes it will be huge on a vehicle decal. Other times it will be itty bitty on a favicon. The parties mentioned above will have different goals they are trying to achieve with a specific logo file format. Here are some use cases:

Table showing common uses for different logo file formats

Where does the format work best?

There are really only two environments a logo is ever going to exist in. It will either be printed, or it will be rendered digitally. Barring a large sculpture of your magnificent logo design erected somewhere on a global company’s campus — I think print and digital covers it.

Table showing which logo file formats are best for print and digital

The formats in these columns shouldn’t really be swapped under normal circumstances. Web files are designed to be small and keep web pages from loading slowly. For print uses, formats in the web column simply won’t have the resolution or be compatible with design/printing software. On the other hand formats in the print column are high resolution and will hog all the memory in a digital environment — if they’re even compatible in the first place.

Why is this format right for the job?

The following is my oh so simple breakdown of why each specific filetype is best at its job:

Table showing the benefits of different logo file formats

Scalable

Formats in the scalable column are vector-based, which means they can be scaled without losing resolution. This makes them great for the variability that can occur between different print projects (think business card vs billboard) or on responsive websites where the logo may need to change sizes for different screens.

  • PDF
  • SVG
  • AI
  • EPS

Note: formats not included in the scalable column will lose resolution and become fuzzy when scaled.

Editable

Another benefit of vector-based formats is that they can be edited by design applications. A designer could open up any of the formats in the Editable column and make a change — perhaps they need to add a ®.

  • PDF
  • SVG
  • AI
  • EPS

Universal

The universal column contains logos that anyone with a computer should be able to open and view. This makes them great for sharing or using on the web.

  • PDF
  • JPG
  • PNG

Transparent

Transparency simply means that the logo file will not have a background. Formats in the transparent column are great for placing over a solid color, pattern, or image because nothing but the logo will show up in these files. There will be no annoying white box behind the logo.

  • PDF
  • SVG
  • AI
  • EPS
  • PNG

File formats you DON’T need to send

Lastly, I wanted to share the file formats you should not need to include in your logo package.

PSD

Please do not design logos in Photoshop. Just. Don’t. Do. It. Use Illustrator or another vector drawing software like Affinity.

TIFF

This format's primary benefit is that it can save layers. It’s a raster-based format that is too large for the web, and your print formats are already covered. TIFF is redundant and not useful 99% of the time.

Free File Formats Cheat Sheet

Let us show you who needs what logo file formats, where, when, and why. Share with your clients so they know what to do with all the beautiful logo files you’ve sent them!

If you’re realizing you need to send a lot more files than you initially thought, I have good news.

I’ve developed a tool called Logo Package Express, which can export every version of your logo in every file format you’ll need in just a few minutes.

Logo Package Express 2.0 box.

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