You’ve finally done it. You’ve found yourself a good designer, introduced her (or him) to your business, and worked together to create a beautiful brand identity that you’re crazy proud of and can’t wait to show off.
She’s just delivered your final files and you’re on cloud nine as you go to download the zip folder. You take a breath, open it up… and immediately start to sweat when you see the number of files that are in there. Who knew one brand identity could result in all that? You certainly didn’t. There are small logos and big logos, logos in color and other logos in black and white. Some are labeled Alternative Logo, others are labeled Primary. You’re struggling to understand the difference in all the logo variations. And what the hell is an EPS file?
Why does it suddenly feel like having your new brand is more confusing than finding someone to create it?
Don’t lose heart, friend. The point of all the different files is to give you options. When you think of all the places you see brand logos on a daily basis, you start to realize there are endless possibilities when it comes to showing off your new marks. They go well beyond social media, websites, and a few sheets of letterhead. You can do signage, banners, decals, t-shirts, utensils, napkins, packaging, wall murals, branded collateral (like pens, coozies, mugs, reusable bags), billboards, bus benches, the list is literally endless.
Giving you several logo variations in different sizes, colors, layouts, and file types ensures you have something that will work for whatever your entrepreneurial heart can dream up, both now and well into the future.
So let’s dig into it, shall we?
Your primary logo is your main logo, the one you will likely use most often in your business. It is typically the first logo that is created as part of your brand identity. Then, once it’s perfected, it’s transformed into different iterations know as alternative, or secondary, logos to be used in different places for your branding.
A primary logo is often the full iteration of your logo and includes all the different pieces and parts that make it up, like your logo type, icon or logo mark if you have one, and tagline or strapline (which is the snippet beneath your logo that gives more information about what your business does). Sometimes it includes the city of origin or the year the business was established. This is the logo you use in the big important places – the header of your website, your restaurant menu, your window signage, etc.
Your alternative logos are variations of your primary logo that give you more flexibility from a branding perspective. You can have multiple alternative logos, one alternative logo, or none at all. They’re meant to be different from, but complements to, your primary logo and usable in different places where perhaps your full logo isn’t needed or doesn’t fit.
For instance, if your primary logo is stacked, perhaps one of your alternative logos is long. Your designer should take into account the key places you’ll need to use your logo and design variations that can work in those environments. If you’re an ice cream parlor for example, you might have a stacked primary logo with a strapline for your menu and your window signage, but perhaps you have a simple, elongated, type-only logo for your branded spoons and napkins.
Alternative logos are also great for social media, branded collateral like t-shirts or reusable bags, or for the heading of your email newsletter.
Your submark is typically your logo simplified to fit into a shape that can then serve a variety of purposes. This is great for branded stickers, stamps, and other packaging necessities. You could also add it to the footer of your website to give that some extra oomph, or use it as the brand mark on the covers of your ebooks or PowerPoint templates where your brand maybe isn’t the focal point, but should show up nonetheless. (As an example, I used my submark on the cover of my Brand Navigation Planner.)
Some brands have graphic icons, others don’t, as they aren’t really a necessity for a strong brand. For the brands that do have graphic icons as part of their logos, few will be recognizable from the icon alone (unless you’re McDonald’s or Nike) so it’s always best to use them with your brand name in some capacity.
However, icons can make awesome brand patterns for documents, website backgrounds, or custom packaging. Most often they’re used as the favicon for a company website, which is the icon that shows up next to the website name in the browser toolbar.
In addition to different logo variations, each variation will be delivered in a few different file formats. Different formats work better in different situations that others, so it’s good to have options to choose from.
Both the JPEG and PNG file formats operate with size constraints, so if you try to scale them beyond their true size, they’ll lose their quality. For that reason, each variation and file type will come in a handful of different sizes. If you have a color logo, you can also expect to receive it in pure black, and a pure white PNG file with a transparent background is also be a nice to have handy.
Stands for: Joint Photographic Experts Group
Supports Transparency: No
JPEGs operate like standard photos, and can be used in places like documents, PowerPoints, your website, etc. When you talk about prints and photos, you typically refer to them by their size in inches (5 x 7, 4 x 6, etc.) but when you talk about the digital file JPEG, you use pixels. Pixels are similar to inches in that they are a set unit of measurement. When you scale a JPEG beyond it’s true pixel size it gets “pixelated” and loses it’s quality. This is why you receive multiple JPEG sizes for your logo. They’re usually already scaled to different pixel counts, so if you need a bigger file size, you already have it and don’t need to distort a smaller file to get a bigger image.
JPEGs do not support transparent backgrounds and JPEG logos are best used in smaller print jobs (like brochures, business cards, stationery, etc.) or in select places on your website.
Stands for: Portable Network Graphics
Supports Transparency: Yes
PNG files are great for online use and perfect for social media and websites. When it comes to graphics and text, they offer a crisper alternative to JPEGs in digital environments and at a smaller file size, which is why they’re ideal for websites, as they are less likely to slow down the load speed on your site.
They also support transparency, so if the background of your site is blue, you don’t have to worry about having a white background show up behind your logo – the transparency of the file will automatically allow the background color to show through so it can blend in with your site.
Similar to JPEGs, PNG files are created in pixels, so if you try to scale them beyond their pixel width, they will get distorted. This is why they’re provided in multiple sizes, so you have different options for different use cases.
Stands for: Encapsulated Postscript
Supports Transparency: Yes
EPS files are great in that they aren’t confined to pixel sizes. Instead they use something called vectors, which use formulas to expand the different points of a graphic when it is scaled instead of a set unit of measurement. This means that EPS files can be scaled up or down to any size without losing quality.
As a result, EPS files are great for large printing jobs (like decals, billboards, large posters or banners, etc.). Because of how they’re created, though, their file size tends to be quite large and is not recommended for smaller projects. You also typically need design software to access them, so they’re provided more as a “just in case” option for when you might hire someone to print a banner for you down the road. They’re not really for everyday use.
easy ways to start using your logo
So now that you know what all the different files are, what are some easy ways you can immediately start implementing your new brand? Well, with all those file types and logo variations, your possibilities are literally endless, but here are some good places to start:
- Launch it on social media – let your community know about your exciting new brand by posting about it on your social feeds. Update your profile or cover photos if that’s your jam.
- Get it on your website – spend a day or two updating your website with your new brand identity. Make sure to update colors and fonts as well, if those have changed.
- Refresh your business cards and stationery
- Add it to your email signature
- Update your templates – If you have business templates, like invoices, contracts, or PowerPoint decks, get your logo added, for a touch of your brand experience across every customer touchpoint.
- Perfect your packaging – even in simple ways, like with stickers, decals, branded packing tape, or stamps!
If you’re still a little unsure or confused, talk to your designer! She’ll have great ideas for how to start putting that beautiful new brand to good use.