Your Logo Cheat Sheet: How to use different logo file formats

Imagine. You’ve been working with your creative partner for weeks or even months, to develop a new brand identity or refresh an existing one for your business or organisation, and the day has finally arrived. 

It’s all done. It’s all finalised.

The entire team is buzzing with excitement to launch the new brand and you’re utterly thrilled with the results. 

It’s been a labour of love. You might be doing happy dances around the marketing department. 

Now, your magical design team is hitting send any minute and delivering a suite of logo file formats, your brand guidelines and if you’ve been super thorough, everything else you need to launch your brand. (Not forgetting those all-important social profile images in the correct size.)

But wait…

There’s a folder here called logo files and within that folder, you find lots of other folders containing lots of different logo file formats. Eeeek! 

What’s an SVG? Why can’t I open this EPS? What even is an EPS? Which one do you use for what?

Breathe. Let’s unravel the mysteries together.

Why are there so many file formats? 

You have your digital files in front of you and there are JUST. SO. MANY. 

It may seem like overkill, but actually, when it comes to designing and launching your brand, using the right logo file format for a specific purpose is important. 

Your creative team will have worked hard to make sure your logo has been delivered in every variation of file format. 

Not for sh*ts and giggles or to clock up some extra hours.

Really, it’s so you can be secure in the knowledge that you’ve got what you need to launch your brand, EVERYWHERE, for always. Yep. Always.

Right now, you may only need to be updating your social media, or your website so you may just need files that are suitable for online viewing. 

But in a week, a month or even a year from now, you may be working with a signage company, a stationery printer, or even an exhibition company and will need a completely different file type altogether that’s suitable for print. 

That’s what all these files are for. They’re for now and for the future. 

The most common file formats

All the files that have magically arrived in your inbox can be identified by its extension. You probably know this already but basically, this is what it could look like:

Those are the most common ones. Here’s a guide on exactly what they are, where they should be used and how to open them.

What is an AI file?

Now, don’t panic, but unless you have access to Adobe Creative Suite and know you’re way around Adobe Illustrator, you probably won’t be able to open this file.

But that doesn’t mean it’s broken. 

Adobe Illustrator is the industry standard design software. A vector-based software which allows you to scale artwork using mathematical formulas (don’t worry, that’s automatic), without losing quality. 

This is what your designers have created your brand identity using.

If you’re a marketing manager or CEO, you won’t necessarily need to be able to open this file yourself. If you’re working with designers, printers in the future, those are the files they’ll need to reproduce or create and marketing materials for the brand. 

Keep them safe! 

What is an EPS file?

Similarly to AI files, it is used primarily as a vector format. Which as we touched on, means the resolution stays high (not blurry), even when stretched or blown up to larger scales.

For example, it can work well on a business card but can be blown up to a massive roadside billboard and still look epic.

Click on the images to read our magic case studies!

AI files are becoming increasingly more popular than EPS. While creative agencies will usually still supply an EPS file, designers and illustrators can just as easily create the same image types in AI files. 

But better safe than sorry, so same story.  Keep them safe, just in case. 

And again, unless you know your way around Adobe Illustrator, you won’t be able to just click and open this format. 

But that’s what designers are for, right? They’re a handy bunch. 

What is a PDF file? 

Now, you’re probably thinking, ‘well, which bloomin’ file types can I open then?’ Fair point. Let’s start with the PDF. 

You probably know your way around a PDF, they basically run the world by now. 

But in case you didn’t know, PDF stands for Portable Document Format. 

It means that these file types can be shared and opened easily, and reliably on any machine, anywhere. 

Pretty snazzy right?

In the context of Logos and even your Brand Guidelines, a PDF is a format used to display documents and graphics correctly no matter the device, application, operating system or web browser. 

So this will come in handy when you need to send your brand guidelines to a colleague somewhere else in the world, to printers, designers or anyone who is having anything to do with re-creating your brand for other materials. 

Warning though, because you can open this file and you know you’re way around a PDF, you must resist the urge to make any edits to a design when it’s in this format. 

PDFs are great containers, but make sure any design edits are done within the .ai files (by a professional) and they can then be exported as a new version of a PDF. 

What is a .jpg file?

Ah, the humble jpg. You’ve probably seen these file formats knockin’ around quite a bit. It might even be your go-to file type because you can open it easily.

JPG is one of the most widely used formats online, typically for photos, graphics and large web images like banner ads. 

These magical little files have a sliding scale of compression that decreases file size fabulously but increases pixelation (it gets blurry, basically) the more the image is compressed. 

But as long as you keep the quality at a certain point, their compact file sizes are perfect for uploading images to your website, for example. 

But jpgs are definitely not suitable for high-quality print jobs, such as business stationery, brochures, roller banners or exhibition graphics. 

So don’t send them to your designer or printing company. They won’t be able to scale them without losing quality and you’ll end up with a blurry logo on a humongous banner at your next exhibition or conference. 

Imagine the horror! 

JPGs also don’t support transparency like the legendary png format. Which can be super handy. 

Let’s go visit that one next.

What is a png file? 

Have you seen those awful designs where this glorious logo on a white background has been plonked on a coloured background? 

Doesn’t look that great, does it?

It’s probably because a jpg file (which doesn’t have a transparent background) has been sent to whoever designed this ‘masterpiece’ and they’ve had no choice but to use it like this. 

If only there was a better option. Yep, you guessed it. 

The png file comes to the rescue. They can be used for almost any digital purpose (note, we said digital, definitely not print) and can be exported from the .ai file with transparency. 

That makes it super duper handy to drop onto PowerPoint presentations, and social posts with coloured backgrounds, and on top of photographs.

Make sure you’re adhering to your brand guidelines though, read why that’s important here

If you’ve chosen your creative partner well, they will have supplied you with versions of the logo that can be used on any colour background. Here’s an example. 

Note, if you’ve been supplied a white version of your logo as a transparent png, you probably won’t be able to actually see it when you open it. 

Don’t worry, it’s definitely there. Plonk it on to a colour background and you’ll see what we mean. 

What is an SVG file? 

SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphics. It’s an XML-based vector image format for defining two-dimensional graphics.

Eh? I know, right?  

We could go into the ins and outs of all the technical mumbo jumbo here, but here’s what you need to know. 

Just like the ai files, it’s a scaleable file. So the logo, graphic or whatever it might be can be resized up and down, as many times as needed and it won’t lose quality. 

But the difference is that this file is a bit of a game changer for web design, interactivity and animation. 

It means that even with the most complex graphics, you never need to worry about blurry images online again. 

These are the files that you’re in-house design team, web designers, animation agency and design agencies will know what to do with. 

Don’t sweat it, just keep it safe. 

A quick recap and a free downloadable guide

When it comes to launching a brand or creating marketing materials, having the right logo file type for a specific purpose is really, like, really important. 

Remember those blurry images and square white logos plonked on a colour background? It’s not a great advert for your business, is it? 

Here’s a quick recap:

✦ If you’re using your logo for digital marketing materials like Powerpoint, choose PNG files.

✦ The best logo file types for printing business cards, brochures, clothing, swag, and more, are vector files. Use SVGs if they’re accepted by the printer you’re using — if not, send an EPS or PDF.

✦ The best file format for a transparent background is PNG. (These should be your favourite asset)

✦ NEVER edit a design as a PDF file, ask your designer to make changes to the ai file first, before reporting as a new PDF file. 

Here’s our handy guide to file formats that you can download now for free and keep handy whenever you need a refresh.

And share it with your team and spread the knowledge. 

Sharing is caring after all. 

We’re not even going to ask you for your email address first. 

I know, how progressive. 


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