What file format do I need for my company logo?

What you need to ask from your designer when creating your company logo

As a graphic designer, many times I’ll start working with a new client that’s coming to iima productions with an existing logo. If they’d like to move forward using that logo, I ask them to send me their original logo artwork so I can start working on their content. At this point, I normally hear the infamous question of, “What file format do you need?” Many times I’ll end up recreating their logo for them because they never received the original artwork files from their previous designer. To save yourself time and money, here is a brief explanation of when to use certain image file formats and some best-usage tips when working with your own logo.

Need some advice on developing your brand the right way? Check out our article, “What is branding? Designing Your Brand.” 

Best Company Logo Formats for Original Artwork

AI (Adobe Illustrator), EPS (Encapsulated Post Script), certain PDF (Portable Document Format) files, INDD (Adobe InDesign)

  • Adobe Illustrator (AI) files are my favorite company logo format to work withAdobe Illustrator (*.ai file extension) is a vector-artwork based design program that makes it easy to work with original logo artwork. When saving files from Illustrator, you’ll see the *.ai or filename.ai extension indicating an Illustrator file. If you don’t have Illustrator installed on your computer and you’re on a Windows PC, here’s a trick to preview the artwork: change the file extension from .ai to .pdf and open with Acrobat Reader. If you’re on a Mac, you can preview .ai files in the Preview application. Illustrator files are my personal favorite company logo format type mainly because I work in Illustrator most hours of the day and it’s easier for me to manipulate the file. Some designers prefer working in InDesign. It’s just a matter of preference.
  • EPS files are my second favorite company logo formatEncapsulated Post-Script (*.eps) is another common format that’s great for working with original logo artwork. Personally, I’m equally fond of working with EPS and AI files as the artwork itself is easily manipulated and I can work with EPS files inside of Illustrator.
  • Adobe PDF logoPDFs (Portable Document Format files) are probably the most common document file format in the world, outside of the .doc or .xls formats. Depending on your designer and their workflow, a PDF is a perfectly acceptable logo artwork format. However, if your logo includes any separate images (photos, clip art), those images need to be saved and included separately. Why? Because to save on file size, your PDF file will compress the included image to be whatever size it’s currently saved at. Meaning? If I need to make your logo bigger, we’re going to lose quality when I scale it up (things will look fuzzy). I’d much prefer one of the other formats because you lose a lot of edit-ability when all you have is a PDF. I recommend requesting a PDF along with one of the other formats.
  • Adobe InDesign logoAdobe InDesign (*.indd) is an acceptable company logo format. However, this application was built mainly for multi-page publication design, and as such, it’s a pretty heavy-duty application for something as straightforward as a logo. Your designer can use InDesign and export an EPS or PDF file from this application.

WHEN RECEIVING YOUR COMPANY LOGO FROM A DESIGNER, ASK THEM TO EITHER INCLUDE OR OUTLINE ALL FONTS AND EMBED OR INCLUDE ALL HIGH-RESOLUTION IMAGES

This scenario happens to me at least twice a month: I receive an EPS file from someone else, I attempt to open it and I get an “Error: Missing Font” dialog box. If you’re using special fonts in your logo, be sure to get them from your designer! Or, at the very least, be sure she outlines those fonts so that anyone can open and edit the file. Not all fonts are free and if your logo uses a premium, paid font set, be sure to acquire licensing and usage rights for that font for your company.

Note: Ask your designer to save the artwork “down” to an older version of Illustrator (or whatever program they’re saving an EPS out of).

A safe bet is two versions behind the current version. It’s not the end of the world if they don’t, but if your printer can’t open the file because it’s “too new,” you’ll need to go back to your designer and request they down-save the file.

Top FAQs about Company Logo Formatting

Can I send you a JPEG of my company logo?

Chances are, if all you have is a .JPG file, I will need to re-create your logo for you. That’s why it’s SO IMPORTANT to ask your designer to provide you with the files above so that we don’t have to waste time doing work that’s already been done.

Why are JPEGs bad for logos?

JPEGs are meant to be used for photographs and are technically called raster graphics, the opposite of vector graphics (AI, EPS files). Raster graphics are made up of a grid of squares called pixels. The higher the pixel density, the higher quality the image (that’s why you’ll hear the term 300 (print) and 72 (web) pixels per inch thrown around. It refers to the density of squares on that grid). Once you have a JPEG saved at a certain size, any scaling or resizing of that image will take that grid and stretch it, causing each pixel’s “box” to expand or contract, resulting in fuzziness and “artifacts” when increasing in size.

Raster vs Vector image for company logo format. Vector is better!

Should JPGs ever be used for anything?

Yes! JPGs were built to handle PHOTOGRAPHS and they’re great at doing so. As a matter of fact, you will most likely never save an actual photographic image as a PNG or GIF file because the JPEG will look MUCH better and will also save at a smaller compressed file size.

Notice the photo example below – see the pixelation on the GIF version? The JPEG file format handles photographic image compression in a way that keeps your photo closer to the original image.

GIF vs PNG - the difference in image quality

I have a PNG or GIF of my logo. Can we use that?

PNGs and GIFs are great for logos when they’re being used on the web. If you want to place your logo on a print piece, unless your PNG file is absolutely huge, we’re still going to need an AI, EPS, PDF or INDD file to work with.

Hopefully these tips will help you when working with a designer on your company’s branding to ensure that it lives on and looks great anywhere.