Brand Identity

Your Go-To Guide to Logo Formats

Often when you finish working with a designer on your brand you will be sent a folder full of different logos that you can use wherever and whenever you need, but if you’re not a designer yourself, it might not be super straightforward what all of these different formats mean and which ones you should be using for what, especially with all those acronyms.

Having the right file format is important too, so that your logo looks its best everywhere it’s seen without pixelating, losing quality or changing the colours. Here’s a guide to the different logo file types so that you can be sure that you’re using the right one for each situation.  

PNG (Portable Network Graphic)

PNGs are perfect for digital use as they can display millions of colours, allow transparent backgrounds, and can be compressed to save file size without losing quality. Being able to use a transparent PNG on top of an image or coloured background is one of the main benefits of this file format and usually the key reason you would choose it.

The downside of PNGs is that they are not scalable. PNGs are raster files, meaning that they are made up of a certain amount of pixels, so you won’t be able to increase the image beyond that size without it beginning to pixelate. As long as the file you have is big enough in the first place, you’ll be okay, just don’t try to make it bigger.

Due to their lack of scalability, PNGs are not recommended for print if avoidable.

✔ Supports transparency

✔ Lossless compression

✔ Suitable for web

✘ Not scalable

✘ Not ideal for print

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

A JPEG, named for the group that created it, is another raster file format that is often used for logos. Like PNGs, JPEGs (sometimes also shortened to JPG) are exported at one size and cannot be infinitely scaled without losing quality. JPEGs can be compressed quite easily to save storage space, but not as easily as PNGs, and do not support transparency. You most often see JPEGs used for photographs, and can be used for your logo in digital situations.

Like PNGs, JPEGs are not recommended for print if avoidable as they aren’t as high quality as other file formats.

✔ Lossless compression

✔ Suitable for web

✔ Great for photos

✘ Not transparent

✘ Not scalable

✘ Not ideal for print

TIFF / TIF (Tagged Image File Format)

It is probably quite rare that you will be given a TIFF file for your logo, but it may be provided in some situations. TIFFs are commonly used for raster images, usually photographs, and are able to be edited after saving without losing quality, Unfortunately, as TIFFs are designed to retain quality without being compressed, their file sizes are quite large and therefore not always the best solution if you’re low on storage space.

✔ Lossless compression

✔ Suitable for web and print

✔ Perfect for photos

✔ Supports transparency

✔ Editable

✘ Not scalable

✘ Large file size

GIF (Graphics Interchange Format)

A GIF is a common file format for simple graphics with limited colours, especially animated ones. GIFs are limited to 256 colours, so aren’t ideal for photos or detailed graphics, but do support animation, so are perfect for animated logos.

Because of the limited colour palette, GIFs are also very small files, which can be really useful if you need a logo with a small file size, or are short on storage space.

✔ Small file size

✔ Suitable for web

✔ Supports animation

✔ Supports transparency

✘ Not scalable

✘ Not ideal for print

✘ Limited to 256 colours

PDF (Portable Document Format)

You have most likely seen a PDF file before if you’ve downloaded a document, but you might not have known that they’re also useful when it comes to logos. PDFs are able to be opened on almost every computer, support transparent backgrounds, and unlike the previous raster file formats, are vector files, meaning they can be scaled up infinitely.

If exported correctly, PDFs can also remain editable after they’re saved. This means that if you have access to Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop or InDesign, you can make changes to the file and re-export it however you like.

PDFs are most often the file you would send to a printer if your logo or collateral is being printed.

✔ Editable

✔ Suitable for both web and print

✔ Accessible cross-platforms

✔ Supports transparency

✔ Scalable

SVG (Scalable Vector Graphic)

SVGs are becoming increasingly popular, especially on the web, as their size and colour can be changed through code, and they are also able to be animated online. As the name suggests, SVGs are infinitely scalable. They also have support for interactivity and animation and can be created and edited with any text editor, as well as with drawing software. Despite all of their capabilities, SVG files maintain small file sizes, making them perfect for web use.

✔ Editable

✔ Suitable for both web and print

✔ Supports animation

✔ Supports transparency

✔ Scalable

✔ Small file size

EPS (Encapsulated PostScript)

EPS files are vector graphic files created using Adobe Illustrator. Often, print shops will ask for an EPS file as it works well with their technology and allows them to make changes and manipulate the file in order to get the correct print settings. EPS files are also helpful if you need a designer to make changes to the logo as they are completely editable using Adobe software such as Adobe Illustrator. EPS and Ai files are quite similar, but the main difference between an EPS file and the original AI file is that EPS files do not support transparency or other more complex object types while AI files do.

✔ Editable

✔ Suitable for web and print

✔ Scalable

✘ Doesn’t support transparency

AI (Adobe Illustrator)

Adobe Illustrator files are the original files that logos are usually created as. These files are completely editable and able to be exported as any of the above file types. AI files can sometimes become quite large as they contain all of the original, editable artwork, and are only able to be opened in Adobe Illustrator or other vector editing software.

You will most likely not need to access the AI file, but if you ever decide to make changes to your logo or export other versions or formats of it, this is the best file that you or your designer should use.  

You won’t be able to upload an AI file to use online as your profile photo or on your website, but you will need to export the logo from this file in order to have a format that is accepted online.

✔ Editable

✔ Suitable for web and print

✔ Supports transparency

✔ Scalable

Hopefully this helps you to decipher the acronyms and make sense of the different logo formats that might come your way at the end of a logo design project. If you do ever get stuck, the designer who created your logo should be able to help you, so flick them a message, or pop back here to refer to this go-to guide!

Hollie stands resting her hands on the white desk behind her, wearing a black t-shirt tucked into orange pants and clear glasses, and smiling into the camera.

by hollie arnett

The brand coach for creatives, hand-lettering artist for herself, and cup of tea lover forever.

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