But once you receive your digital files, you may be wondering “What do I do with these files and why are there so many formats?” Each file format is used for a specific purpose.
Knowing which file formats to use is important because your logo will end up existing in all sorts of contexts—from a business card to a website to a t-shirt. BUT, there are really only two environments a logo will exist. It will be printed or rendered digitally.
Vector and raster formats are the two ways your logo files can be saved from the application your designer used to make your logo. Professional designers work in Adobe Illustrator to create your logo, which is a vector-based program. Photoshop is a raster-based program. If your logo was created in Photoshop, this will cause you problems in the future.
A logo should always be designed in a vector format. Why?
Vector images can be scaled (make larger and smaller) without diminishing the quality because they are created with points, lines, and curves. Vector files are the original source files that can be edited by design applications.
Raster images will lose resolution and become fuzzy when scaled because they are created with pixels. Raster files must be exported at specific sizes to fit various applications like your website or Facebook. These files should never be edited to alter your logo. Always make your logo changes (like color variants) in the original vector file.
Below is our logo showing the difference between a vector and a raster image when scaled up.
The original file of your logo should be a vector-based image format. Different types of files are used for specific purposes such as using certain compressed image formats to save space and bandwidth.
There are many different types of file formats. A file format can be identified by its extension: .doc, .txt, .html, .gif, .jpeg. The most common logo file formats are:
An ai file is a vector-based image created in Adobe Illustrator. Designers use this file to create and edit your logo. They are commonly called the “working file”, “source file”, or “master file”.
These files can be modified as needed without reducing the quality of the logo—this is exactly what you want!
You won’t be able to view or open this file unless you have the Adobe Illustrator software. Typically your designer will export your final ai file logo to an eps file and many other formats for you to use.
An eps file is the gold standard for your logo files. It is a vector-based image, when exported from Adobe Illustrator, and is meant for print usage.
This means an eps file can be sized up or down without deteriorating the image quality. These files have a transparent background and are easily scalable for print — they can be as large as a billboard and as small as a business card.
When you send your logo to a printer or design professional always send them the ai or eps version unless another format is specifically requested. They can export this file into another file format if needed.
Keep in mind you might not be able to open or place this file in some software, upload an eps to your website or social media sites. If the software you are using does not let you place or import and eps then you’ll be forced to use an alternative logo file format.
You may be given a pdf version of your logo. A pdf might be a vector file depending on if it’s generated from Adobe Illustrator or another software. A pdf is a very common file type and can be viewed in a finder window, web browser, or Adobe Acrobat Reader.
BUT remember, not all pdf files are vector-based because pdf’s can be exported from lots of programs like PowerPoint or Photoshop and then saved as a pdf. Like jpgs, pdfs have a background color to them or can have a background-size that is larger than the graphic itself.
A pdf's quality can vary drastically because it can be exported for web (typically lower quality and optimized for fast loading) or print (usually higher quality resolution).
An svg file is a vector-based image meant for web usage. An svg can be used on a website and allows the image to be scaled and maintain quality.
These files have transparent backgrounds and can be opened in Illustrator or a web browser. Some printers accept svg files, but generally svg files are used online and eps files are used in print.
A svg file is ideal for logos, icons, and basic graphics. This is why we use an svg file format for our logo on the website. For logos and illustrations on the web, svgs provide an overall sharper crispness versus png or jpg.
A png file is a raster-based graphic meant for web usage. These files are pixel-based and cannot be scaled up without pixelation. This means they must be exported with the correct size and resolution for the end usage.
A png file supports transparent backgrounds. They can be used for your website and on social media and opened with most computer software or in a web browser. If your website CMS doesn't allow svg file uploads, a high-quality png file is the next best thing.
When uploading png files to your website make sure they’re optimized for the web. Image optimization means making your file size as low as possible while maintaining good quality. Large image and file sizes can make your website load slower. You can use the free tool TinyPNG to reduce your png file sizes and make your website load faster.
A jpg or jpeg file is a raster-based image meant for web or print use. These files are best used for photographs. A jpg file does not support transparent backgrounds.
Similar to png, jpg files must be created with the correct size and resolution for the end usage. They can be used for your website and on social media and opened with any computer software.
When uploading jpg files to your website make sure they’re optimized for the web. You can use the free tool TinyJPG to reduce your jpg file sizes and make your website load faster.
Having the right logo file type for the job is important. Your logo designer should provide you with a variety of files to prepare you to use your logo in all your marketing outlets. Make sure to get an ai or eps file from your designer because all other file formats can be created from that source file.