By Cat Lim, Creative Director
When the average person thinks about digital image files, there are a few file types that we’re familiar with. JPEGs, or .JPG files, commonly come to mind. While JPEGs are commonly used, there are dozens of image file types out there—and there are big differences between what they’re each capable of and the best ways to use them. When it comes to illustrations, graphics, and—most importantly—logos, JPEGs are the worst possible file type you could use.
Read on to learn why exactly you should delete the JPEG versions of your logo, and the file types you should be using instead to make your brand look as amazing as possible in a digital world.
To preserve your logo’s quality at any size—from a thumbnail to a billboard—you’ll need a vector version. While your logo might start as a sketch, doodle, or general idea, when it comes time to produce it, a talented graphic designer will do so as vector artwork, typically Adobe Illustrator or a similar program.
What are vectors, exactly? Basically, there are two types of digital graphics: vectors and rasters. Rasters are the most digital images we come across online, composed of pixels. While you might have a really high resolution photograph, if you were to zoom in, eventually those pixels would be visible. Vectors, on the other hand, aren’t made up of pixels, but rather composed lines and shapes filled with color that preserve their integrity at any size—no matter how much you zoom in, you’ll always see that perfectly crisp line. Vectors also offer the ability to easily change things like colors and backgrounds, because they’re shapes filled with color.
JPEGs, specifically, are a type of rasterized image that has typically been compressed for digital use. These are the most commonly sent and used file types for a reason—they can be easily opened by a large number of programs and displayed on a number of devices. They can even be saved at a high enough resolution for some print uses, such as smaller-format brochures and flyers. However, because they’re rasters, JPEGs are highly limited in how they can be used.
The most limiting factor of a JPEG is that they can’t contain any transparent areas, and these spaces will automatically be filled in with white. With logos, specifically, you’ll typically see that your JPEG logo file is in the center of a white box—this white background can’t easily be removed or changed on a JPEG file.
When your graphic designer or print shop asks you for a vector file, it won’t work to save the .JPG as an Adobe Illustrator file or title the file “vector.” It’s a core difference in the way the file is created. While vector files can be “rasterized” to save as a JPEG or other compressed image type for digital use, unfortunately, going backwards is not as simple with most cases requiring a graphic designer to recreate those files from scratch.
When you’re sending your files out for higher resolution or print use, you’ll want to provide a vector file. Historically, vector versions of logos needed to be saved as .EPS or .SVG files, but a major drawback to this is that they aren’t viewable in common image viewing applications. PDFs are a great way to save vector files that can be scaled and adjusted, but still viewed by those who don’t have Adobe Illustrator! PDFs are capable of being vector and accessible. Your PDF vector doesn’t necessarily replace other vector files—you might also want to have your .EPS, .SVG, or .AI files in case you want to create a new version of your logo or make modifications in the future.
In addition to your vector files, you’ll want a rasterized version for digital applications that require more compressed images or only accept certain file types. For example, if you need to add your logo to a Word document, in a Google Slides presentation, on your website, or on social media, a PNG is your best bet. While both JPEGs and PNGs are raster file types that will load quickly and be widely accepted for digital applications, PNG’s ability to have a transparent background makes it a much more useful file type than JPEGs.
When developing logos for our clients, we design in Adobe Illustrator and export logos in PDF and PNG file formats. Our logo suites include multiple variations of the logo such as horizontal, stacked, one-color versions, and more, which are then built in every necessary color mode—you’ll likely have CMYK, RGB, and Pantone color system versions, which are each used for different print and digital applications to ensure that your logo is always consistent, no matter who is using it.
Design best practices are evolving at the pace of technology—which is, to say, very quickly. With a great design team in your corner, you’ll never have to worry about whether you’re working with the best files that will look great and help your brand shine. Need a little help to get your logo on track? We’ve got you covered.