When you’ve commissioned a new logo design for your business it’s an exciting moment to receive the final design, but it can quickly be followed by confusion on opening the folder and finding a multitude of unfamiliar file formats. You want to start using your new logo, but you don’t know where to start. This article explains, in simple terms, what all those files are for and when you should use them.
There’s plenty of information on the web about image file formats and colour profiles, and I’ll include links where more information might be helpful, but this article will give a layman’s overview of logo file types for clients.
Firstly, lets look at what files your designer should have provided you with:
CMYK and RGB – files for print and screen
CMYK and RGB are two different colour profiles; CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) is used for professional printing. RGB (Red, Green and Blue) is for anything that will be viewed on a screen. A good designer will always provide your logo in both these colour profiles.
It’s important to know the difference between RGB and CMYK, if you get it wrong it can create frustrating results. For example, if you use a CMYK file on screen, perhaps uploaded on the web or viewed on a mobile device, there can be some quite alarming colour differences.
If the colours in your logo are looking acidic/luminescent on screen then it’s likely you have used a CMYK file when you should have used RGB.
Similarly, if you try and send artwork to a professional printer with your logo in RGB it will almost certainly be rejected. Most printers and publications will insist on CMYK files.
Files for screen (RGB)
In your RGB folder you are likely to find a range of file formats ranging from ai, pdf, eps, jpg, png and svg. To keep things simple these can be grouped into two types of file; files to be used by designers (using professional design software), and files that you can use yourself (that you can upload to the web or insert into documents).
Files for designers:
ai – this is an Adobe Illustrator file, and is the original working file that your designer is likely to have created the logo in. You’re unlikely to be able to open this without a version of Illustrator installed on your computer, however if you ever need to send your logo to a designer they’ll really appreciate being sent this file. In most cases the artwork in this file will have been created in vectors, which means it can be scaled to any size without degrading image quality.
pdf – can be opened in Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader (a piece of free software) and also in most up to date web-browsers. In most cases this will also be created in vectors (scalable without degrading) and is a second best to send a designer if you haven’t got an .ai file.
eps – also a vector format (scalable without degrading), this format is another designers favourite.
svg – again a scalable vector format, often used on the web. If you’re sending your logo to a web-developer, they may well find an svg useful.
Files for you, the client
These are files that you don’t need professional design software to open and use. For example if you want to insert a logo into a word document, a powerpoint presentation or upload to a social media account they should be perfect.
jpg – most people are familiar with the trusty jpg. It usually fulfils most basic requirements and doesn’t need any fancy software to open. The jpg does have it’s limitations though, for example it can’t have a transparent background. A designer will usually provide this to you on a white background. Another limitation is that a jpg will always reduce in image quality if it’s size is increased.
png – this can serve much the same purpose as a jpg, but it has the benefit of allowing transparency. This means the logo can have a transparent background, which can be really useful. The png file is often a good choice for uploading to social media sites. It does have the same restrictions when it comes to increasing it’s size – the image quality will reduce if you do this.
Files for print (CMYK)
It’s unlikely that you’ll be sending artwork files to a professional printer without the input of a designer so in most cases these CMYK files are for you to send to designers or artworkers, rather than to use yourself. If you’re creating documents for printing on a desktop printer from Microsoft Office programmes you can use RGB files. (Microsoft word doesn’t actually support CMYK colours at all).
Most designers will provide you with CMYK logos in ai, pdf, eps and jpg formats, which aside from the colour profile will have the same properties as the RGB versions. You will usually also be provided with a tiff as some printers insist on this high quality image format.
Can’t RGB files just be converted to CMYK?
Seeing as in most cases you’re likely to be using the RGB versions of your logo you’d be forgiven for wondering if you (or a printer or designer) could just do a straight conversion of the RGB files to CMYK if you need them. Although the quick answer is, yes you can (if you have the software to do so), there is a strong argument against this;
Most designers who are well versed in both print and web design will know that colours often print quite differently to how they look on screen. Your designer will have carefully selected your CMYK colours using printed swatches, to ensure that the printed colours match the colours seen on screen as closely as possible. You may notice that your CMYK logo’s look quite different on screen to the RGB versions, this is because the colours have been selected based on what they look like printed rather than on screen. The ideal is for when you hold your business card up infront of your website that the colours match as closely as possible.
(It’s important to note that colours can display quite differently from screen to screen. The screens we use at Puree Design are calibrated to match colours as closely as possible, but we always check colours across a selection of different screens to make sure our colour matching is as universal as possible.)
What about Pantone colours?
If you are likely to have a large amount of high quality printed materials, or your brand relies heavily on a key brand colour that needs to match very closely across multiple medias (think Virgin’s red) your designer may use Pantone colours to define the colours in your logo. At Puree Design we usually judge the need to use Pantones on an individual basis and find that for the majority of our clients it’s not necessary.
What if I want to resize a logo myself?
Once you have your new logo you’ll be keen to use it all over your marketing and communications, which can mean you need it in a whole range of different sizes. Your designer should have provided your logo’s as jpgs and pngs in sizes big enough to avoid the need to enlarge them (therefore avoiding reducing the image quality) but you may need to reduce their size and create them in various different shapes. To avoid having to pay your designer to do these simple resizes for you, you could try www.picresize.com or resizeyourimage.com or any number of similar services found with a quick internet search.
If you need to use your logo in a really large size you will need to use one of the vector formats (ai, eps, pdf, svg), for which you are likely to need professional design software and therefore the help of a designer.
In summary here are four key points to remember:
- Save your folder of logo files somewhere safe. Chances are you will need to use all of them at some point
- If you’re using them yourself the RGB jpg or png is the best bet
- If in doubt, send the whole folder. Most designers would much rather be sent a folder full of options, so we can select the best format for the purpose
- Avoid enlarging your jpg or png logos – they’ll look blurry and unprofessional – which is not what you want for your shiny new brand
If you still need help with your logo files then get in touch, we’re always happy to help.