What are the Main File Formats for Logos?
The most popular formats include:
- JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)
- PNG (Portable Network Graphics)
- SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics)
- GIF (Graphics Interchange Format)
The extensions attached to each logo format are there to help you determine when and how to use the artwork. Some are better for printed materials, while others are meant for digital display only.
It helps to have an idea of what medium you’ll favor when it comes to displaying your logo. For example, will you primarily be advertising on Facebook ads? In glossy magazines? Through your website? You’ll almost certainly use more than one file format, but answering these questions can help you focus on mastering the ones you’ll use more often.
These file formats represent the standard ways to store information on the computer. Each format features its own distinct organization pattern based on everything from its compression classification to the pixel grid. We’ll look at the two most common categories for image files.
The Raster File
A raster file is made up of pixels or tiny squares that work together to create an image. The more squares there are in the file, the more the computer has to work to display the logo. Known as pixels per inch (PPI), you’re usually aiming for a value of at least 300 to hit the industry standard for quality.
The main drawback to raster is that the higher the PPI, the longer it might take for the logo to appear online. So if you’re using a raster such as a JPEG or a PNG with a high PPI, your customers might never really get to see the logo. If you’re using a low-quality raster, the image might come across as blurry or dull.
If you’re working with a smaller image, such as a small logo at the top of your website page or Microsoft Word file, a raster file will generally be sufficient. You’ll see JPEG commonly used for office printing because it’s easy to import to everything in Microsoft Office (i.e., Word, PowerPoint, and Excel). It’s also a good choice for archiving and sharing images.
If you do work with a JPEG, remember that it can’t be transparent. This means that you won’t be able to place your logo on a colored background. If the background of your website is white, though, you shouldn’t have a problem.
Unlike JPEG, PNG gives you the option to make the image transparent. You might see PNG used more often on websites or digital stationery. Users find that it can be resized relatively easily without losing color quality (it does take longer to download, however).
A GIF is another type of raster file, one that will animate your logo. These file formats can work with up to 256 colors, which is actually a limited quantity when it comes to logos. These file sizes tend to be smaller and best fit for web projects. The images are quick to load, making it a good bet for patience-strapped customers.
If you’re going to use a raster for print, you need to ensure that the pixel count is very high. This ensures that when the logo is scaled to size, it’s as crystal-clear as you designed it to be. For this reason, using a raster for printed designs is not recommended. This file type is better suited for digital work.
The Vector File
A vector file is one that gives directions to the computer about how to draw the specifics of your logos. Vector files were designed to resemble the line art technique, a type of hand drawing without gradations in shade or color.
Vector files are often recommended for print designs like posters or brochures because they eliminate the risk of resolution issues. Some businesses will use vector formats as their master files and then export the file into a raster if they need to.
If you look a little closer at a vector file, the lines of the logo will have a single color value. Rather than the individual pixels of a raster file, the computer takes into account the path of the drawing. So, there’s no chance of one color of your logo bleeding into the next.
There’s also no blurring if you’re blowing up the image because each portion of the drawing maintains its own value as the logo is “drawn” by the computer. This can be a lifesaver for businesses when a logo has to be scaled to fit on any number of mediums because there is no compromise in image quality.
An SVG file is a type of vector file that is excellent for web applications across the board. While they’re usually on the smaller size, they can scale up when need be. You can use SVG for static logos, or you can animate the image if you so choose. So if you want your logo to spin around on your website, you can use an SVG to ensure the colors and motion comes across.
SVG tends to be readable across various devices and browsers. So if you know that your target customer is just as likely to be carrying around the latest iPhone as they are an old android, SVG might be the best option for you.
What’s Right for You?
From your budget to your display preferences, there are a number of factors to consider before you determine the right file formats to use for your images. In general, vectors can be easier to manipulate from small to large and back again. But if you are looking to display the image primarily as a small logo on a standard website or on official digital reports, a raster will likely be sufficient.
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