Logo design: Raster vs Vector file formats

Logo design: Raster vs Vector file formats

Last week I was talking with a business owner at a networking meeting I was attending. They started telling me about a logo that they had commissioned for their new business. And how they were not very happy with the process thus far.

After showing me the work, what transpired was the designer is illustrating the logo by hand. I am not privy to the original brief. However, the business owner did say the logo needed applying to a shop front and all their marketing collateral.

As a graphic designer, your fundamental goal for every project is to solve a problem. Branding requires the client's logo to be applied across a multitude of media.

I started to explain some of the practical restrictions of a hand drawn illustration and how, unfortunately; I didn’t believe the designer had thought about the actual application of their design.

As graphic designers I believe that it is important to educate clients in some of the processes of design, this also helps the client feel that they are receiving value for money when they realise how involved a logo design can be. There is one fundamental of all logo designs, in my opinion, they need to start life as a vector graphic. However, if you put yourself into the client's shoes for a moment, why would they know what a vector graphic is, let alone why they need one. The designer needs to educate the customer. My response to this, was to write a blog article about it, as I am writing I thought this would be better presented as a video so that I can show the differences between the two most common file types;

  • Raster files,
  • Vector files.

According to branddirectory.com, the following are the top six brands in the world.

  • Apple,
  • Samsung,
  • Microsoft,
  • Google,
  • Verison,
  • AT&T.

When you view the brand logos, I think there is a definite connection between them. They are all simple, clean and crisp. All the logos are made from vector shapes and are incredibly versatile. As a graphic designer, your fundamental goal for every project is to solve a problem. Branding requires the client's logo to be applied across a multitude of media. How do you present a logo in the best light across shops, websites, software and products? You create a logo that applies to any situation without loss of quality. Regardless of how big or small the space for the logo is.

The difference between raster images and vector files

Raster images, often also referred to as bitmaps are made up of pixels, single points of colour which build up to make a picture. The most common file formats are jpg, bmp, gif, png and tiff file formats. Bitmaps are only as big as they are delivered, what do I mean by this? If you receive a jpg for example, and the image is five inches across by three inches high. That is as large as that image can be without losing any quality. So it can not be scaled up, but it can be scaled down. Bitmaps tend to exist as photos or complex illustrations.

Vector files, on the other hand, are made up of mathematical points generated by computer applications such as Adobe Illustrator. The most common file formats are eps, pdf’s, although that is a little misleading, as pdf’s technically can contain bitmaps as well. SVG, commonly used for the web, ai and wmf. These file formats are infinitely scaleable either up or down. Typically vector files are brand logos and infographics.

What to expect from commissioning a logo design

  • Vector versions of the logo,
  • Supplied in CMYK, Pantone and single colour versions,
  • Some raster versions of the logo should be supplied, as It’s highly likely the client will not be able to open the vector versions,
  • Logo lockups, difference version of the logo,
  • A favicon for use on the clients' website.

It is imperative that you know which file format is most appropriate for the use case in order to present your brand in the most favorable light.

Our website has been reviewed and approved by seolist.org - Gloucestershire Search Engine Optimization Listings