This is a lot simpler than it sounds, and basically it all comes down to how you’re going to use your logo. Will you be printing t-shirts or embroidering hats? What about magazine and newspaper ads? (Print may be dying, but it’s not dead yet.) Will you have an online presence, like a website or social media?
Then chances are you’re going to need a lot of separate, different, and intentionally designed versions of your logo, including basic stuff like different file types and color options. We’ll start off simple.
There are two basic types of image files:
Raster files (like .jpg) cannot be made bigger without getting blurry and pixelated (although they can usually be made smaller with few hiccups).
Vector files (like .eps) can be made bigger or smaller and still look clean and smooth.
.jpg files are usually used on websites and are preferred by some printers, but the key is JPGs are created at the size they need to be—they won’t be resized later. So if your only logo file is a .jpg, you’ll definitely need a vector version.
CMYK is a printing term referring to the ink colors Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black, which are combined by the printer to make all the colors in the CMYK gamut.
RGB also refers to color—Red, Green, and Blue—but these are the colors of light that blend to create all the colors perceived by the human eye. RGB color is used on electronic devices like computers and TVs.
PMS or Pantone Matching System is a standardized color matching system that allows printers to make sure colors look the same even if they’re printed on different kinds of machines in different locations. There are some PMS colors that can be reproduced in CMYK, but most are spot colors created using 15 different base pigments mixed in different amounts.
Depending on how you intend to display your logo, it can be very useful to have versions in all of these color spaces.
Example: The Company Co. has a tall, narrow logo. The shopping center where they are located only has short, wide signage spaces available on their pylon sign and store fronts. Now The Company Co. has to choose between making their logo very small—and harder to read by passing drivers—or not using their logo at all, which would be huge waste of money and branding opportunity.
I’m not saying we should scrap all vertical logos—or horizontal signs, for that matter. It is, however, a good investment to have alternate layouts available for different spaces. Another good sample of this is social media icons. Why chop off a part of your logo to be your Twitter icon, or even worse, shrink it down to an unreadable blob, when you could have a square version created especially to be shown in tiny formats?
More On Color: Full Color, Grayscale, One Color
This is one of those areas where having multiple versions of your logo doesn’t just improve your brand, it can save you money too! This is also a place where a lot of assumptions are made and marketing is produced that usually turns out to be less effective than it could have been.
Full Color is just what it sounds like. It can also be called Four Color, referring to CMYK. Full Color will work for most instances, but sometimes you gotta go black and white. Unfortunately, black and white isn’t as simple a it sounds.
Grayscale involves all those pesky shades of gray we usually think of when we hear black and white thanks to newspapers and television. I’ll be blunt: I have never come across a situation where a grayscale logo was more effective than a one color logo that didn’t have a poorly constructed logo at the root of the whole mess. That’s another reason why logo development should always start in black on white, but back to the topic at hand. Skip grayscale, go straight to one color.
One Color logos are about as simple as it gets. Most people assume that one color means black on white, or perhaps whit on black (you should have both, by the way) but honestly it can be any color that works with your brand, for example, a yellow one color logo printed on blue shirts.
This is where the money saving bit comes in, too. Most apparel and merchandise printing charges by the ink color, so having a logo that can be reproduced in one color can cut your printing costs wa down, and more color can be added to your products by considering the color of the surface that’s being printed on.
I know it’s a lot to keep track of. Depending on how robust your marketing plan is, it is possible to skip some of these options, but even if you only have one color and layout version of your logo, it’s very important that you use it constantly and consistently to maintain your brand image. A simple way to help you do this is to have logo guidelines—a simple list of do’s and don’ts that can be as short as a single page or give War and Peace a run for its money. Your logo guidelines keep everyone on the same page and helps keep your brand consistent.
Need some help expanding your stable of logo versions, or want to start from scratch? Drop us a line.