Graphic designers, brand specialists and printers talk in a strange language sometimes and one word that you might come across that’s important to them is ‘vector’. Your logo needs to be in a vector file format.
Why you need a vector file
The most important thing to know about vectors is that they’re infinitely scaleable, meaning they can appear on something as big as a billboard and they won’t deteriorate. This is because they’re mathematically defined by points and curves rather than by little blocks of colour called pixels. When they’re enlarged using, graphic design software, the proportions between those points and curves stay the same. Another benefit of vector files is that a graphic designer, with the right software, can edit them. They’re the optimum file format for printing logos and brand graphics.
Other formats for image files
If you’re not a graphic designer, but you work with images on a computer you’ll be familiar with JPG (Joint Photographic Expert Group), PNG (Portable Network Graphic), and maybe the old-fashioned BMP (Bitmap). The format of these types of file is ‘raster’ which means they’re defined by pixels. Sometimes If you zoom into a JPG you’ll be able to see the pixels (little squares) that make up the image. Because screens are also made up of pixels it means that raster files are great for use on screen, but the downside is that if you try to enlarge a raster file, the pixels just get bigger too, so the image looks fuzzy. But if you zoom in on a vector file, you’ll find that the all the edges stay smooth.
Things to remember:
Anyone or any business with a logo needs a version of that logo as a vector file. Even if you don’t have the software to open it, ask your graphic designer to supply one for you to keep safely on file.
The vector version of your logo is the one that you’ll need to use for print.
Raster files work well on screen, but can be used in high resolution for print.
Your vector file will likely be one of the following formats: AI (Adobe Illustrator), EPS (Encapsulated Post Script) or a PDF (Portable Document Format).
Before you engage a graphic designer ask them what software they’re planning to use to design your logo and keep in mind that Adobe Photoshop isn’t an appropriate answer (Photoshop is a photo editing tool so is most suitable for raster files).
There are several applications that are used for creating vector graphics and the most common is Adobe Illustrator, others are CorelDraw and Inkscape. For more information about how to brief a graphic designer for brand design read: Don’t stress about giving a graphic design brief!
Vectors are marvellous things, and they’re the perfect format for logos and print. They don’t work for photos.