Your small business logo is the most important graphic element in which you will invest for your business. You should own the logo in many file formats. Having a library of logo files will enable you to send vendors the types of files they need (for example, other designers, printers, or other service providers), and to reproduce your logo in a wide variety of ways.
There are two major categories that I will cover in this article—color variations and file-type variations.
You should receive your logo graphic from your designer in all of the file types listed below in the “File Formats” section (unless otherwise noted) in the following color variations:
Pantone color or CMYK color
Pantone color —
If you intend to have your business cards or other materials printed on a press, choosing Pantone colors makes the process less expensive than printing in full four- (or CMYK-) color. Of course, if you choose to print your materials digitally, then this is not an issue.
Full CMYK color —
This is for four-color printing, full color ads, and for use on any materials that you intend to print from your own desktop color printer, i.e, invoices, statements, receipts, letters, etc.
RGB color —
For use on your website or in your email. You should get JPEG and GIF formats in this color scheme.
If your logo contains more than one color, or if it has tones or shades of one color, you should receive a grayscale version. You would use this when your logo is included in the newspaper or in the Yellow Pages, or on any black and white laser-printed materials you may create.
Black and white —
This version would be used to produce the best-quality logo on faxes or any materials you reproduce using a copier.
Depending on the design of the logo, sometimes only either a black and white or grayscale version of the logo will be applicable. For example, for a logo with just one color in it, only a black and white version would apply. And, if elements of different colors overlap, a grayscale version will ensure that the different graphic elements do not bleed together, as they would if they were all converted to black. So you may not receive both grayscale and black and white versions, but having one or the other should suffice. File Formats:
Original graphic — The original Illustrator, Photoshop, or other program-native document. This comes in handy if you make a minor change to your company (i.e., if you add LLC or Inc.), or if you decide to change your color scheme.
To make these types of changes easiest, you need a file of the logo in the original program in which it was created. If the logo was created in Illustrator (which is preferable, because creating vector graphics in Illustrator will allow your logo to be scaled up and down as needed), the type should not be outlined, unless your designer has done so in order to modify the typeface.
If the logo was created in Photoshop, the layers of the document should not be flattened, and the type should not be rasterized (converted from editable type into pixels)—this will ensure that it will still be editable.
Ask your designer which fonts have been used in the logo, so you could purchase it for use in other materials. This will avoid the lengthy and time-consuming process of font matching, should you work with other designers.
You should receive several different versions of the software’s native file formats from the designer, in case a future designer or printer ever uses an older version of the software. For example, I provide Illustrator files in Illustrator CS3 along with Illustrator CS1.
EPS format — I recommend that your logo be in EPS 10 format. EPS can be opened and processed by many different programs. This is also the file format most commonly accepted/requested by printers.
PDF format — You will not be able to view many of the file formats of your design that you receive unless you have graphics software applications. I suggest that you receive the PDF files of each Color Version of your logo. You will be able to view the PDF files using Adobe Acrobat Reader, available for free on Adobe’s web site at www.adobe.com.
“Outlined” original format — The difference between this graphic and the original would be found in the Illustrator files. The fonts in the outlined original format would be outlined, which means that the letters are converted into shapes. In Photoshop, the type should be rasterized and the layers should be flattened. This outlined file should be provided in all of the formats listed above—original program format, EPS, and PDF.
These outlined file versions should be provided to any printers or service bureaus to lessen the chance that the elements in your logo could inadvertently be shifted around. This will make sure that your logo will print with the right font should the printer not have the font used in your logo.
JPEG and GIF formats — For web or email use. The GIF graphic should be created with a transparent background.
TIF format at 300 dots per inch (DPI) resolution, in RGB color format — For use in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint files.
TIF format at 300 DPI — Some printers, ad vendors (i.e., the Yellow Pages), or other designers may require this file format in order to create additional designed materials.
Having your logo in these formats will ensure that you won’t ever need to have your logo redrawn or re-created for use in future projects. After all, you own your logo—shouldn’t you be able to use it as well?