Choosing the Right Logo File Format: Vector vs. Raster

Choosing the Right Logo File Format: Vector vs. Raster

14min read  

16 Jun 2020

The wide variety of image file formats makes it hard to pick the right one when you need to export or use your image files. If you don't have the necessary knowledge, it's so easy to get lost in the process, especially when it comes to your logo. 

When do you need a PNG logo? Where can you use your logo saved in SVG? What's the difference between a JPG and a PNG? And so many other questions that require answers for an effective design process. This abundance of file types may seem overwhelming at first, especially if you are creating a logo for the first time. Luckily, everything is not that complicated. You simply need to understand the importance and usage of different image formats, and what file format is best for various purposes. Once you do it, you'll never doubt in which format your logo needs to be saved.

If you look at the image files, you can see different extensions such as JPG, PNG, TIFF, PDF, etc. These different formats are optimized for specific uses - for web or printed materials. But all of them fall under two main categories: raster graphics and vector files.

 vector vs. raster

Source: TheWebGuy


In this article, we’ll find out the difference between raster and vector image file formats, their usage, and which are the most common logo file formats
.

 

  1. Vector File Formats

Vector files are flexible files that consist of lines and shapes instead of colored pixels. They are mathematical equations that make them more scalable and easier to resize. Besides, they don’t lose their quality in the process. This file type is mostly used to create branding and print materials. Vector files are most commonly edited with Adobe Illustrator.

 

EPS file format

EPS - Encapsulated PostScript

EPS files are highly compatible vector files that can be used in many design editors. Besides, you can edit and resize them without any effects on quality. These files are considered as master files and are mostly used in graphic design and large-scale professional printing. Raster files can be saved as EPS files and behave as vectors. This format is also used for logos and other branding materials.

 

SVG file format

SVG - Scalable Vector Graphic

These vector files are mostly used for the web. SVG files can be scaled to any size without a loss in quality, similar to other vector files. Moreover, SVG files are XML-based; thus, it’s possible to view them in browsers, with different devices and software. This file format is used for print materials, website images, and icons. It’s also recommended for logos.

 

AI file format

AI - Adobe Illustrator (.ai)

Adobe created AI for a more effortless file transfer within its software. AI is considered a raw vector file which is editable, flexible, and can be saved in any other file format - vector and raster files. Most of the designers use Adobe Illustrator to create different branding elements, logos, print materials, illustrations, and artwork from scratch

 

 

  1. Raster Graphics

Most of the graphics we see on the web fall under the raster graphics category. These images consist of a certain number of colored squares - pixels. Because of that exact number of pixels, these images look blurry and pixelated when you stretch them. Raster graphics images are not scalable.

The most common formats in this category are JPG, PNG, GIF, TIFF, and PSD.

 

JPG file format

JPG (JPEG) - Joint Photographic Experts Group

JPG is a lossy raster format that is one of the most commonly used image file formats on the web. One of the reasons for that is flexible compression: JPG files can be compressed down to 5% of their original size. When the JPG file is compressed, however, the image loses some pixels and its quality. Besides, it doesn’t support transparency, so it’s not suitable for logos. These files are simple to code, compress, and store; this is why they are perfect as web images. They don’t take long to load due to their small file sizes.

 

PNG file format

PNG - Portable Network Graphics

The two main advantages of this format are supporting transparency and being lossless. Though they are raster files, they keep the high quality of the image after compression. However, they do become blurry after increasing the image size. This format is perfect for web images, icons, and logos, where a transparent background is required, but it’s not suitable for print materials.

 

GIF file format

GIF - Graphics Interchange Format

One of the characteristics of this format that stands out is its animated form. GIFs are widely used on the web for animated banners, ads, and memes. When other formats are compressed to a GIF file, they lose the colors, but it helps to reduce the image size.

 

 

Where can you use your logo? There are sure many uses, including your website, social profiles, visit cards, video intros, and so on. This is why it’s important to know which file format you need in specific cases. Otherwise, you can have pixelated and blurry banners or website images that take too long to load.

Let’s check some of the common terms and features of image file formats that you need to know.

 

  • High/Low Resolution

When it comes to images, you might have heard these terms before because they are closely related to the image quality. When you deal with print materials, it’s essential to consider the resolution of your image files, which is measured by DPI - dots per square inch.

As you know, images consist of pixels, which contain the details of the image. The more pixels there are, the more details the image includes. So, the images with more pixels have higher resolution.

logo file format

Source: Yearbook

You may not see the difference between the images with high and low resolutions, but when you print them, it will be visible. On the web, the images can be at low resolution (72 DPI), but for printed materials, they should be no less than 300 DPI. So, when you think about printing your logo, take its resolution into consideration.

 

  • Transparency

Another important feature to consider while choosing the logo format is transparency. As you’ve noticed, some image file formats support transparency. This allows you to place your logo on any background without sacrificing the looks.

raster vs vector

Some of the raster formats which support transparency are PNG and GIF. For vector files, transparency is defined differently, but technically most of them support it.

 

  • Lossy and Lossless Compression

When we compress images, different image file formats behave differently. And, when the file is decompressed, depending on the image format, some of the files can be fully restored, while others can’t. During the lossy compression, the original files lose some of the data because of a significant reduction in size.

The lossless compression reduces the image size while keeping the original quality. Some of the lossy image formats are JPEGs and GIFs. PNG, BMP, and Raw image formats are considered lossless.

 

  • Logo Size

Depending on how you’re going to use your logo, there are certain standard sizes. For your website, you can have your logo in the following sizes:

logo sizes cheat sheet

The most common logo formats are PNG (raster format for web), EPS (for print materials), SVG. But again, depending on the usage, choose the format which has all the necessary features.

  • Color Profiles

If you are unacquainted with color systems, there are two of them in design: CMYK and RGB. RGB stands for red, green, blue, and is used mostly for digital designs. CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key(Black)), on the other hand, is primarily used in print. This is essential to know, as not all file formats support both color systems, meaning not all logo file formats will be suited for printing. EPS, PDF, and AI are the file formats supporting both RGB and CMYK.

color profiles


Which Logo File Format to Choose?

Now, you already know what some of the most commonly used logo file formats are. No one file format is better than the other. It depends on who is using the logo and for which purpose. Developers have no use of AI files the same way designers can’t do much with JPG. That’s why when choosing the logo file format, first and foremost, think about who is going to use that file. Here’s a small cheat sheet illustrating which logo file is valuable for whom.

logo file cheat sheet


To Sum Up

Once you finish reading the article, you’ll have the basic knowledge about image file formats and what formats you can use for logos. Take into consideration the differences between the raster and vector files and their features to successfully choose the right format depending on your needs - for web or printing. It doesn’t matter whether you make your logo yourself, with the help of designers, or using an online logo maker, you must always have the right files at hand.


With Renderforest, you can create your logo from scratch, or use the customizable logo presets, and download your logo in PNG or SVG.

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