A Client’s Guide to Logo Files & Branding Deliverables from Professional Designers

As a web design agency that has worked with many smaller companies and entrepreneurs, we’ve seen many instances when a client that wants a new website submits to us unusable logos or the wrong logo file formats.

It’s pretty easy to get a logo that you like visually that may even represent your brand and voice, but it just doesn’t work across media — web and print — and you (or your web agency) are left to adapt, research, or transfer your logo to a usable format.

Working with a true, professional graphic designer who has experience with both print and web is the only way to go, and it’s not even an issue of cost. If a designer doesn’t offer what you have proposed to them, but they are cheaper, you will certainly pay more down the line to get the job done correctly.

We’ve outlined a list of deliverables you should expect from a professional logo designer and why you need them.

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What are the Different Logo File Formats?

It is important to have access to two formats of your logo design — both a vector and a raster version.

Vector Files

Vector graphics are editable images that are created in professional graphic design software such as Adobe Illustrator (the industry standard) and Adobe Photoshop. They can be scaled to any size without causing image degradation and each component, line and point can be edited in the vector software.

Vector graphics are drawn using lines or curves based on mathematical equations and control (or anchor) points, which describe the image based on its geometric characteristics. Typically, vector files have one of the following file extensions: EPS, AI, or PSD.

Raster & Bitmap Files

Pixel-based images (also known as bitmap or raster images) are treated as a single image, created in the files JPG, PNG, TIF, or BMP, and are composed of tightly-packed pixels. Therefore, enlarging a bitmap graphic beyond its original source file size will cause the image to pixelate — making the pixels obvious — and it will appear blurry.

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To get an in-depth overview on logo file formats, read our Guide for Logos.

Common Question: What Formats Should I Get My Logo In?

Vector Logo File Formats: Adobe Illustrator (.AI)

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It is crucial to always make sure you are handed over a file that can be edited by another designer. Adobe Illustrator is an internationally-accepted program that is considered to be the most popular graphic design software specifically for logo design.

An Adobe Illustrator file is usually the original file that was used to design the vector logo and can easily be opened in the Adobe drawing software. The image should be preserved as the finished artwork with no drawn outlines left visible.

Note: Although Photoshop allows you to export artwork as an EPS file, it is created using pixels and as a result, will not be vector-based. PSD files are NOT the standard for original files of logo design. If you receive a logo in this format, it is most likely not the original file OR your designer is not using the industry standard software.

Vector Logo File Formats: Encapsulated Postscript (.EPS)

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In addition to the original working file, an EPS file should also be provided with text outlines included. This file has a transparent background, so the logo can be placed and layered on top of any page, and its size can be scaled without diminishing the image quality.

The PostScript format is compatible with both professional and standard printers and is, therefore, often the best file choice to use for printing purposes. Many free programs — including Google Docs and Apple Preview — can import this vector file. However, it is very important to note that, although EPS files are vector-based just like AI or PSD files, it is not considered an original and fully-editable version, because all fonts are outlined (and therefore undetectable and not changeable).

Although EPS files should be your default choice when you want to use your logo, you will find that older versions of Word and Powerpoint do not support this format. The latest version of these applications may allow you to place an EPS logo, but it may not print properly. If you are able to get the EPS logo to work, use it. Don’t worry if you can’t open it, just choose Insert / Photo / Picture and then place it in the document.

Raster Logo File Formats: JPEG/PNG/GIF/TIFF

You should also ensure that your logo is provided in bitmap format so that it can be used in most desktop publishing, web editors, and word processing software. There are several options of rasterized files formats.

JPEG/JPG images (Joint Photographic Experts Group) are small lossy graphic files that are a universally-approved internet standard and are generally used for on-screen purposes. JPEGs realize reduced file size up to 15% without losing quality making it ideal for web pages (faster uploads and less storage space usage)—especially for colorful photography. Virtually all photographic images will be in this format. However, these files contain a white background that is not suitable for layering the logo on top of other images or colored backgrounds.

For web design purposes, it is best to NOT provide the logo in exclusively this format, especially if you plan to place it on top of a colored header.

Uses: When file size is more important than quality for a colorful or complex image. 

Examples: Microsoft Word, Photography, Facebook, Twitter 

PNG (Portable Network Graphics) is the preferred file for bitmap images as it combines benefits from both JPEGs and GIFs – lossless compression for both simple and complex images. There are 3 types of PNG files – PNG-8, PNG-24, and PNG-32. The PNG-8 is very similar to GIF files as it uses 256 maximum colors with 1-bit transparency resulting in an extremely small file size. For lossless compression and complex images, PNG-24 uses 24-bit color and a palette of more than 16 million colors. If an alpha transparent true color image is needed, PNG32 is the best choice. When PNG-32 bit images are placed on complex or non-white backgrounds, it will have nice smooth edges.

Uses: When in doubt about which raster/bitmap format to use, choose one of the PNG variations.

Examples: Transparent web logo, Microsoft Word, Photography and complex images if the file size doesn’t matter.

GIF (Graphics Interchange format) files are another internet-supported format that uses lossless compression (quality is not lost during compression) and they are useful for animations. Both GIF and PNG files allow for a transparent background, permitting compatible integration with other designs and layouts. Since this file format uses a maximum of 256 colors compared to JPEG’s millions of available colors, it will often have a smaller file size for the same image.

Uses: When filesize is just as important as quality for a simple transparent image with minimal colors or for animations.

Examples: Microsoft Word, Icons, Animations, Simple Images, Transparent logos with minimal colors

TIFF files (Tagged Image File Format) can be saved in several color formats and in various compressions. TIFFs use lossless compression and are regularly used for professional photography or by printers to maintain image integrity and clarity. They can be compressed and transferred to most applications. Although this file format is supported by both Windows and Macintosh computers, it is not compatible with web browsers.

Other Logo File Formats

PDF (Portable Document Format) files can serve as a great hybrid because they are platform-independent and they retain vector information. You can view PDF files with Adobe Reader or via a web browser with the PDF Viewer plug-in. You will need this version for high-quality professional printing and production unless you use an EPS version instead for this purpose.

Favicons are tiny versions of your logo that appear next to the title of your website in a web browser tab and are also displayed in the bookmarks and favorites list. The most popular file formats used for this purpose are GIF and ICO.

Image Source: Webdesigner Depot

Note: Your favicon file should be saved as a 16 x 16px image and named as favicon.ico.

What Other Deliverables Should I Get From My Logo Designer?

Word Templates for Documents You Use Regularly

A nice add-on you might want to purchase from your designer are templates that incorporate your logo, to avoid extra effort on your part down the road. This would include documents that you use frequently, like an envelope, invoice, and letterhead.

Grayscale & Reversed Logo

It is wise to have access to various color formats, particularly for printing and advertising. Grayscale logos can be helpful for printing on promotional merchandise like hats and mugs.

Image Source: Southwest Airlines

A reverse logo inverts the colors in the design so that the background or negative space generates the logo’s fill, and the outside space creates the outline. This style is also used for printing on branded merchandise.

Image Source: Formax Printing Solutions

Logo File Formats for Various Logo Lockups

Without a doubt, your business will need to use different logo lockups to fit within different spaces. Request a horizontal logo that presents your brand icon adjacent to your business name to be used when it is justified with the rest of your content. In addition, ask your designer to create a vertically stacked logo that places the brand name below or above the icon. This orientation is especially useful when you want to center it above content. Finally, you’ll want to obtain a stand-alone icon without text to use in a context when your business has been previously referenced.

Image Source: OpenTable

Font Files

When receiving font files from a designer, specificity is essential. Make sure they provide you with the font family name, whether one or multiple are used. Ideally, the font files should be provided in addition to the various logo image files.

The designer should include any additional instructions about alignment, and tracking and kerning ratios to maintain consistent spacing.

Printing and Web CSS Style Guide

Your style guide should include recommended fonts, colors, and sizes for page title, headline, drop cap, introduction text, body paragraph, and highlighted calls-to-action. If your logo designer also develops your website, custom CSS with font, case, spacing, alignment, and line height is also helpful information for the style guide.

Logo Guide with Copyright Information

Even though it is a designer’s job to create an original creative work, you, as the business owner are entitled to a transfer of copyright when the finished logo is delivered. The designer should sign a written contract which specifically details the transfer of ownership to the client when the project is completed. Keep in mind, the designer may want to use the logo in their portfolio, and this should be mutually pre-arranged in the agreement.

Color Guide with RGB, CMYK, Pantone and Hex Values

In order to create a brand with a consistent feel, it is important to adhere to one color palette across all of your layouts and designs. You can create a color guide by selecting four hues or less that don’t deviate too far from your logo colors, and then generate swatches with a range of light and dark variations. Typically, lighter colors are used for backgrounds, darker colors for copy, and neutral and striking hues for accents and details.

It is important to include the correct, corresponding information so that these colors can be reproduced on different mediums and platforms. The color match should be accompanied with the Pantone name and number, the CMYK format should be provided for printing purposes, and finally, RGB and HEX values should be available for digital use.

Although this is not required, it’s helpful if the designer provides lifetime access online to the files or guarantees an online backup in case your files are lost.

When Do You Need a New Logo or Rebrand?

If your logo no longer accurately represents your product/services, brand, voice, or does not speak to the target audience you want to attract, you may benefit from a rebrand.

Signals & Reasons to Rebrand or Re-Design Your Logo

  1. You are embarrassed to distribute your marketing materials or you give them out with a laundry list of excuses and explanations about why and how you need to redesign them.
  2. You don’t have a logo that can easily be scaled down to small sizes.
  3. Your logo can’t easily be adapted for use on a variety of print and digital media.
  4. Your brand has evolved and needs new visual representation.
  5. Your audience, products and/or services, or voice have changed.
  6. You have received negative feedback.
  7. Your brand does not evoke the emotions you anticipated from your target audience.

Wrap-Up: Get the Logo File Formats You Need from Your Logo Designer

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Packages starting at $200

After having spent time and money working with a designer to bring your brand to life in a new logo, you’ll want to avoid the hassle and headache of hunting down specific, required files when the time comes to put your logo to use. Make sure your designer provides you with the minimum library of logo file formats in a compressed ZIP file that includes varying resolutions, layouts, and colors, to guarantee that you’ll have endless logo options that will adapt to all kinds of digital and print media usage. Any logo file formats or additional deliverables we missed?