Chances are you’ve been requested to provide a vector file of your logo by a designer, developer, or some other third party using your brand elements in some sort of production. If you’re confused as to what exactly a vector file is, you’re not alone. Understanding the difference between file formats can save you and the other party time, money, and many headaches along the way. So, let’s start with why it’s necessary to use vector files in the first place.

 

Why a vector?

 

Scalability

The most common reasoning for needing a vector file over a raster file is scalability. This means the designer needs the ability to scale up or scale down an image to fit in with the project. Providing a single-sized image of your logo (like a .PNG or .JPEG) is usually too small or too low of a resolution to work seamlessly.

If, for example, your company is getting a billboard produced, your logo needs to be able to be scaled up to the size of the billboard. In such a case, providing the 600 pixel wide png you got from the header of your website will result in a pixelated and lesser quality final product. Take a look at the picture below to see what happens when you scale up a vector file vs a raster file.

Flexibility

Another important benefit that using vector files provides is flexibility. Meaning each element can be isolated and manipulated, colors can be changed, backgrounds taken out, and other edits can be made if necessary.

Let’s say that your company is sponsoring an event, and the hosting company needs your logo to include with slides, posters, or other event productions. The designer needs to have flexible vector files in order to have as much creative freedom as possible. If they want to make a poster with a colored background, the jpeg file of your logo with a white box in the background won’t flow so well with the design. Or, if the designer is making a poster that has a black background, and your logo is all black, he or she needs to be able to change the color of the logo to white to make it visible. Below are two examples of event posters. One that was created with a jpeg file for a sponsoring logo, and one that was made with vector files. Which one do you think looks better?

 

Types of files

 

Now that you have a better understanding of why vector files are necessary, you might be wondering how you know whether or not your logo is in a vector format. Below are the most popular file extensions for both vector and raster files.

 

Vector files

.eps

.ai

.svg

.cdr

.drw

 

NOT vector files

.jpg

.png

.tiff

.gif

.bmp

.exif

 

Maybe a vector

.pdf (depending on how the file was exported, .pdfs can either be images saved as .pdfs, or vector elements exported as .pdf)

 

In closing

 

Next time a designer asks you for a vector file of your logo, you’ll know what to provide. If you don’t have one on file you can do one of two things. One, ask the designer who created your logo to provide the source vector files. Two, ask the person requesting a vector file how much they would charge to make the conversion for you, chances are they know how, but it takes time.

Knowing the difference between file formats, and what to provide can save you, and the other party lots of time and headaches while producing your next project. If you have questions, suggestions, or think we left something out, comment below!

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