July 6, 2011

Logo formats that make design simple

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In our work with mission-driven organizations, we encounter far too many JPEG and GIF format logos and not enough of what makes design and visual branding simple: vector .EPS logo formats.

If you’re a design manager or communications director, this brief will help you understand what to ask for and what to provide for your clients.

While this may seem technical, it’s really not (or at least we’ll keep it simple to eliminate confusion). Here’s a brief on what the in-house or design agency partners should be providing you for your communications:

Vector. EPS format: An export choice in applications such as Adobe Illustrator.*  Vectors are essentially outlines that are filled with color, and not bitmap files. Vector .EPS files can be black and white, spot color or CMYK color; and will print at the highest resolution of the output device.  That means no bitmapped edges!  This format can be exported to any other format, and is the ideal format for printed materials because the background is transparent.  That means you can overlay your logo on a colored background.

*Not to be confused with Adobe Photoshop bitmap EPS files. Your logo should never be created in Photoshop.  Ever.  Nor should a bitmap EPS be embedded in a vector file and called a vector EPS.  Ever.

  • PNG format: A bitmap format, PNG files are ideal for Powerpoint and Microsoft Word, especially when exported with a transparent background.  Transparent background PNG files will allow the user to place the logo on a background without a white block around it. These are RGB color (Primarily for screen use).  Not recommended for print usage, but will do in a pinch if you’re printing from a business-level app like Word or Powerpoint.  PNG files will print well at their original size, but should not be scaled larger, or the edges will pixelate.
  • JPEG format: A common choice for logo file formats, but of limited use.  While they can be embedded in WORD documents, they are opaque (meaning that the white areas are… white.  Your background won’t show through.  JPG files limit design options because of their white backgrounds and are not as flexible as the vector EPS or PNG files.  JPEG files will print well at their original size, but should not be scaled larger, or the edges will pixelate.

A key point for nonprofits:  When you are asking fundraising sponsors for their logo, ask for a Vector EPS file.  The correct format will help your creative firm complete their design more efficiently… and gain goodwill for you from your donors when you ask them for the correct format the first time.

A key point for organizations that work with an outside creative partner: With a large number of stakeholders following your brand standards, giving them the optimal tools to work with (ie, the correct logo format) will improve your ability to help them communicate your organization’s message in alignment with the brand.

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