During an academic discussion regarding file formats I received from a most excellent designer, I thought I was correct in writing (based on my experience with hired work):
…the industry standard for logos is vector…
I received the following response:
Industry standards are interesting things, in that they are more often talked about than actually followed…
We can find all sorts of references to push one point or another, I only talk from experience, and my experience is that even large corporations ala Microsoft are fine with raster.
My question then is perhaps not as simple as I thought:
When hiring a designer to create a logo for an organization (corporate, non-profit, etc.), what is the industry standard deliverable file format (vis-à-vis vector versus raster)?
(Of course, hiring a designer should come with a contract that explicitly states the file format, but most people aren’t aware [or don’t care] about various file formats and might therefore neglect such a clause.)
This is different than asking what should go into the deliverable package. This question is about an authoritative source that describes what is expected of professional-level deliverables from designers. Some people agree that vector graphics should be included, but is that a de facto standard, or is there an official (or semi-official) body that dictates what people should expect as deliverables from graphic design?
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There is no standard.
Seasoned designers often understand the value of vector files and will often start with the vector format then generate raster format. The resolution independence of vector makes it almost automatically a “given” for a logo. A logo is most often sized and scaled a whole range of sizes. Starting with, or providing vector, just makes sense. Not to mention how much easier the entire workflow is if you start with vector to get to raster as opposed to vice versa.
That being posted, some designers will just provide what they can “get away with” or whatever the client is happy with. If a client hires someone and specifically mentions they “want a logo in PNG format so we can use it on our web site” — well the designer may just create a raster image. After all, if that’s all the client wants or is willing to pay for, then why put in the extra work? To be frank, I’d still create a vector version, I just wouldn’t provide that to the client. The only designers I know that work exclusively with raster formats for logos are those that don’t know how to use vector software.
Ultimately what is delivered should be detailed in the contract and initial project scope discussion. A high quality, ethical, designer is going to educate clients as to what they need — after all, it is the designer who is the knowledgable person in the arrangement. However, just because a designer recommends a format does not mean the client will accept that recommendation. If a client is not interested in paying (in time or money) for the necessary formats a logo should be delivered in, then a reduction in deliverable formats may be what is agreed upon.
In any event, I’m always leery when I hear a client requesting a specific format from a designer and the designer states “that’s not needed”.
In some cases that may be true, especially when it is technically not possible. There are some formats used in design that just do not transfer easily (or well) to an end-user software application. I can’t take that 64pg InDesign piece and just hit a couple buttons to make a Word file because a client asks. There’s additional manual time, and costs involved which are billable. If the client doesn’t wish to pay for that, then we’ve reached an impasse.
In my experience, it is pretty rare that a client will ask for a specific format, which is technically possible, is willing to pay for any additional time needed, and there’s a valid argument to not deliver that format other than lack of education or training.
In my opinion, every agreement for logo creation should always start with requiring a fully editable vector format. Additional formats should then be secondary and on an as-needed basis. I, personally, always ensure a vector format is provided in several variations. Any raster images are provided merely for convenience since with the vector, raster formats can be generally created in a matter of moments simply by converting the vector to raster. Raster to vector conversion is a whole other ballgame.
For the record, Microsoft uses vector formats for their logos. Raster is only used when the end-user delivery method demands it… such as no SVG support or web pages (since older versions of their browser [IE] lack the most support for modern formats). I assure you any printed material from Microsoft uses a vector logo. I don’t know what the catalyst is to you referring to that person as an “excellent designer”. However, Their quote regarding raster formats for logos is just absurd in my opinion.
I’m not willing to say there is no standards. There’s no standard if one wants to ignore them, as much as there’s no standard in web development or any other profession then. If you speak to a print/prepress designer, they know the standards and it’s anything that is the most compatible with the postscript technology and that will render the best print quality possible. So it’s not a matter of preference, it’s really a matter of results.
With the web popularity of web development, and the split between print and web design, maybe the “standards” are being questioned though. Not all designers have the same priorities.
What’s smart in design is to be as compatible and practical as possible, and be WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get.) To anticipate the future use of a logo, the same way the conception of the design itself is based on creating a logo that will look good in any situation, for a long time and on any medium.
As to why a vector format should be included, that’s a bit like asking why a builder should build a house with bricks instead of vinyl siding. Both are nice, they protect your house but given the choice, anyone would go with the bricks because it’s flexible, solid, easy to repair and a pretty good long term investment. The bricks in logo design are vector files. It simply makes sense that a logo that cannot suffer of any degradation of quality, that can be converted and modified easily, use for pretty much anything, and is the most flexible format will be the best choice. Of course you can be satisfied with a 40″ width PNG or JPG file, it can work too but it’s not ideal, and not ready to use for all situations.
As I said below, if I have the choice of one file to provide as a logo, it would be a vector PDF.
But frankly, why not simply give more options to the client and provide many formats.
I previously explained below why I provided all the files.
A good designer will provide you these things when you purchase a logo:
1) A set of vector files: .ai, .pdf, .eps, .svg
This way the client is free to use his logo on any project and share them with other designers who might need them. The vector are the best quality that exists and the favorite of all. They can be resize without limit and without loss of quality.
2) A set of High resolution files: .tiff, .psd, .png, .jpg
This will be a rasterized set of files in high resolution (preferably 300dpi and at least 6″ width) that the client can freely import in his own document (eg. Words, Powerpoint) for his own print projects.
3) A set of web files at 72 dpi of different sizes: .jpg, .png
The designer will provide these files so the client can use them freely online, on social media, on profiles, etc. It’s good to provide these because the client won’t need to resize the logos himself and that’s also the best way to provide logos that are already optimized for web, in the best quality possible… with and without transparency.
4) A separate JPG information sheet with the color values, recipes and versions of the logo as a reference. On this will be written which pantones colors were used, the CMYK and RGB values of the colors, what are the files provided, some instructions on when and how to use the files mentioned above and the contact details of the designer! I suggest using a JPG but it could be a PDF. JPG are simply the most compatible of all and give a good preview of the logos with any specific software, unlike PDF.
5) In addition, a black and white version of the logo can be provided in all the formats mentioned above. But that depends on your agreement on the project.
6) If the logo is intended to be used for printed projects or special use, it should be created accordingly. If the client needs a logo easy to print and is provided with a graphic in full colors, full of gradients and shadows, then it’s not right. If the work needs to be use for cheap printing, then a 1-2 color logo should be created, if it’s for web and will be used at small size, then the text should be clear and the graphic should be clear even if resized very small, etc.
But if there is ONE single file that should be provided, I would say PDF in vector; at least this format can be opened by pretty much anything. An .ai cannot be opened by older version of Illustrator if created on the new ones and cannot be imported in some publishing or design software.
Suggestion: Here is how the folder with the logos should look like. They should sorted to help the client; they don’t always know what is a vector and what does what! But if they’re asked for a vector and see the logo well identified, they can find it easily!
Theres no standard. There is no standards body outside Adobe who has mostly captured the GD market. This is graphics design not engineering, if it was engineering youd have several competing standards. The formats themselves have standards offcourse since that is engineering.
It all depends on the industry, not yours, the clients. Clients in small business outfits do not in general understand the difference between formats. This varies greatly though. Mainly, people have not heard of vector formats.
This is mostly related to what applications they have at their disposal. Many companies operate on Word files; The support for vector formats in Word is attrocious. Therefore many clients could not request vector formats as they simply do not know any nor use any.
It is important that you supply your client with a vector file nonetheless, if you can easily do so. At one point or another they will be interacting with a graphics designer, printhouse or signage maker. While the client does not nesseserily know what to make of the files these people are not stupid, they can follow instructions. So they can send vector files if requested, often after some initial confusion.
What vector file is standard then? The sad truth is that there is no standard vector format outside the adobe/GD context. Use EPS, possibly a ancient ai file of v 6 or so (old ai files are eps with extra info). Theres simply no replacement for EPS if you need wide software support. PDF is a good format that many can view it, but most users are not aware that PDF can be embedded in documents or opened in other than a pdf reader. In most intents PDF is superior to EPS tough eps has some features that are better suited for image authors. SVG might be good for a web perspective.
There are many other vector formats you could include: EMF, Visio files, DXF, DWG etc. here the limiting factor is your cpablilities as Graphics designer. These are not common in th graphics design industry.
So while your average first time client would probably be happy with a PNG of sufficient resolution at RGB for time being ts not a bad idea to think ahead. Its what makes you a professional. It costs you nearly nothing to include several varieties just to be on the safe side. This is what sets you appart from the business owners son.
Preferably in addition to several rgb and cmyk files you should send the client some instructions. You see a logo is not just a logo but much more than that.