10 Things You Should Never Do With Your Logo Files

I compare a logo file to a delicate flower. It’s in its most perfect state: free of any complications, pristine, and ready to be used at a moment’s notice. They’re the exact vector file that your client needs for whatever project they have to do, and you are the keeper to the key to their happiness.

Of course, that could all go to waste if you play around with your logo files recklessly. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Well then sit down folks, because I’m about to get all sorts of angsty about how people mistreat their vectors. Prepare yourself for some umbrage.

Oh, and I’m going to emphasize my points with Star Wars GIFs. What — you don’t like Star Wars? Then prepare for twice the umbrage.

Rasterize Them (Permanently)

People are dumb. Not you, obviously, you’re a good looking and intelligent individual who has amazing taste in blog authors. But those other people — the ones that don’t know the difference between a vector and a raster file — and then send their clients their logos in a JPEG or GIF and call it good. Those people make me so angry that I want to throw a turtle. Is it a logical decision to huck a reptile? No. And neither is delivering a raster logo, is where I’m going with this horrible metaphor.

Han Solo MistakePin It

Anywho, I seem to have gotten off track, so let me backup a bit. Obviously your clients will want a version of their logo in a raster format, as you can’t use an EPS or PDF for everything. However, if you’re the dumb designer that saves their raster file and then deletes the vector file, then I hope you die just like Anakin Skywalker did: cut in half and set on fire by lava.

I Hate You Anakin SkywalkerPin It

Label Them Randomly

Am I a meticulous jerk that keeps their files so well organized that even a chimp could find the document they want? Yes, of course I am, so don’t test me.

Test Pin It

How do I do it? Like an adult: I start with the project, then space-dash-space, then a date, space-dash-space again, a name, space-dash-space a-freaking-gain, and finally, the version number in v1, v2, v3, and so on. Oh, and the whole thing is in lowercase because I’m not some savage beast who types things in all caps.

What I definitely don’t do is add -FINAL to anything, because it almost never is. And I certainly don’t do -FINAL-FINAL or -FINAL – V2 or any crap like that, because then how the hell are you supposed to figure out which one is the right one? You’re not. It’s a dangerous path to go down, and I won’t walk it with you.

PathPin It

Create them with Raster Images/Styles

Yeah, let’s get back to the raster file thing for a second, because some of you may think that it’s OK. It’s not, and even worse is if you deliver a single version of a logo that’s done using raster images or styles. Because if you do, then there’s a special spot in hell for you, my friend.

Know who has to clean up those kinds of logos?

Me?Pin It

Yeah, ME.

When you design a logo for someone, make sure you create a single-color version. Why? Some people only want to use black and white letterheads. Some need a logo for a banner. And how many businesses do you know that have a door? A ton, right? Well they come to guys like me to make them a single-color sticker to slap on their glass, and if I have to spend 45 minutes removing all of your glittery gradients and fancy effects, I’m going to get snippier than usual. It’s a thankless freaking job, and I hate it, so don’t do it.

thank mePin It

"Borrow" Designs

Is everything a remix?

BB8Pin It

Well duh, but there are limits, so don’t be dumb. Like we all know how the Amazon logo has that smiley face in the bottom that points from A to Z, representing how not only is Amazon a place where everyone is happy 24/7, but also that they carry everything from A to Z. But if you incorporate that into your logo, well then that’s a whole other ball of wax. You’re "borrowing" an original idea, not remixing something old into something new.

And going back to the Star Wars thing, BB-8 is a good example of that. Is he a rip off of R2-D2? Kind of. They have similar heads, their eyes are the same, and they serve the same purpose in the narrative. But since he’s a ball that rolls and has a whole other personality, it’s a different thing. Now if you just made a pink R2-D2, it would be a great astromech, sure. But to say it was a completely new type of droid would be a falsehood.

BB8 meets R2-D2Pin It

See? Everything does relate to Star Wars.

Create Them for Color Use Only

Am I beating a drum too loudly here, folks? I feel like sometimes designers think heavily about where on the web their logo will be displayed, but not in the real world. Sure, your client has Instagram, Facebook, and a website, but they also might have a building, or a work truck, or hell, they could want their logo on a cupcake. So instead of being an inflexible jerk with your design — particularly with use of color — get out there and make it flexible.

Here’s a good example: Remember when Instagram rebranded Well if you go to Instagram’s Brand page, you can get copies of their logo to use in various places. And right there at the top is their glyph in two formats: black and color. Because after all, someone is going to need that logo in a single color (a newspaper, for example), and now they have access to it. Do the same with your client’s logo files and you’re golden.

Make It Inflexible

Touching on that previous point, let’s talk about inflexible logos, shall we? Your design file has to fit in all sorts of spots, so it’s a good idea that it’s versatile enough to be in those different locations. If you’re of the feeling that "one logo should rule them all," then that one logo has to be incredibly well designed to work in so many spots. I mean, I know that my own logos have their faults, and I’m always trying to improve. You should do the same.

And in a world where logos responsively shrink and expand, plus change color when need be, shouldn’t what you design at least work in as many places as possible?

Create Them as One Variation

Now all that said, I’m not so sure that having just one logo is the best choice nowadays. You should have a color version and a black and white version; a white version on a black field, and a CMYK version. Oh, and a Pantone version too, since you never know where something is going to print.

And then there are lockups, a term which I didn’t know prior to finding this article, but which makes a lot of sense to me. If you design a horizontal logo and need it to sit in a mostly vertical space, you’re going to have some problems.

Good LuckPin It

So what do you do? You make different lockups. One of my companies does exactly that; the glyph is either on top of or to the side of the wordmark, depending on its destination. It gives your client options, instead of locking them down in one system — which is never a good idea.

Deliver Just One File Version

Speaking of good ideas, want to know a dumb one? Delivering one file. No really, just the one (and if it’s a JPEG, see the first entry). If you want a client that will constantly bug you for variations and file formats, then sure, sending them an EPS or PDF will do. But if you want to do more with your career than babysit and resize pixels all day, then maybe delivering the design in a couple of different options would be a good idea. For example:

  • Editable PDF
  • PNG
  • JPEG
  • CMYK
  • RGB
  • Pantone
  • EPS

And then take those files, and duplicate them for color variations. Is that a lot of work? Yeah, it is. But it’ll pay off in the long run.

Deliver in Layered Files

"Hey, I was wondering if you could deliver me the file in a layered format — you know, just an AI file. That cool?"

It's a TrapPin It

No, no it’s not cool. Because then you lose the design. It’s no longer yours to claim, one way or another, because they only want the file so they can change it on their own.

Now look, it may not be a bad thing. Say they paid you for your services, and they want some in-house person to take it to a new level. You were their starting point, now they want to bring it home. Sure, it’s insulting, but not a big deal.

But if they haven’t paid you yet and they want something editable, then tell them to pound sand. Your work should be something you’re proud of, and if they want to change it, as the client, that’s their prerogative. But if you don’t have their money, it’s still your design. Besides, once they can edit it, they will, and any change they make goes against your credibility.

Design it in Microsoft Word

I can’t even.

No ThanksPin It


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