So you’re hiring someone to create a logo? Pretty important step for any business venture. When working with a graphic designer, marketing agency or full service print provider to craft your brand (or to modify an existing one), it pays to know what to expect. As with most things, a little knowledge beforehand – in this case about digital file types – can save you time and money down the road.
The design process is creative and fluid – enjoy the ride! – but in the end you are contracting for a complete set of digital files or assets that can be used reliably by you or your vendors to produce marketing across all channels with consistent, repeatable quality. Your printer needs a 4-color logo? No problem. Your sign guy wants the final version with the tag line and PMS colors? You’ve got it covered. You may not understand all the digital details of how the files were created, but you can confidently supply the required files to your vendors. A large step forward in understanding all these files is to be aware of one basic difference: pixel vs. vector
Pixel-based (or raster) files can be used for many marketing applications and are preferred for web usage and Microsoft® Office, among others. Think of them as photographs – they live as beds or layers of pixels and are resolution-dependent. If you enlarge them, they lose resolution and eventually appear fuzzy or distorted. Want to edit or amend them? Depending on how they were saved, that could be difficult if not impossible. (While PhotoShop can seamlessly work with vector objects and type, chances are your files will have been flattened or otherwise saved without those capabilities.) File types include .tif, .jpg, .png, .psd, .gif and others.
Vector-based files are preferred for wide format printing, spot color printing or most instances where enlargement or extensive repurposing is needed. They exist as mathematical curves and points that remain crisp when displayed at any size. Almost always, a vector file can become a pixel-based file with just a “save” or “export” from the native application – not true if going from pixel to vector. Just having a handle on this basic difference between a design created as pixels v. vectors can set you on the right track for a successful branding or marketing project. File types include .ai, .eps and .svg.
With regard to creativity, great designs and ideas come from many sources – from a team of highly educated, experienced professionals to a creative student with a sketchpad. But whomever you hire, be clear from the start that what you will receive in the end if a set of digital, editable brand essentials that will work without further cost to you for all of your marketing projects: from print to web, office applications to wide format signage. If you designer only provides you pixel-based files, they will need to give specific instructions as to how these files can be used by your vendors for large format printing, signage, and other applications. If they can’t – don’t close the deal!
Ask your designer/provider a few basic questions in the beginning: How will they create your files? What software will they use? What file types will you be provided upon completion? Will they direct you in which file types are suggested for specific usage? And hang onto those original files – we often see clients with their digital logo files lost in the shuffle over the years, which can be an expensive mistake. Any professional will be happy to explain any questions you have. Just be sure they can provide their designs to you in the formats you will need or be prepared to incur future costs in file conversion or re-creation.
WARNING: pixel-based files can be saved from photo-editing software as EPS files, so remember that just because a file has an EPS suffix, it has not been magically converted to a vector file. Also, pixel images can be placed into vector draw programs like Illustrator and saved as .AI or .EPS files. Still, not vector!
Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!
ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Engraving - our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.