What to Expect From a Logo Designer

Starting a business or changing an established brand are exciting. It’s supposed to be fun. So, beyond the actual design… what are the things you, as a customer, should do?

Before:

A good designer will understand before ever sitting down:

  • your customers or their motivations,
  • your values, vision, mission, and
  • your timeline.

They may even discuss with you:

  • style,
  • color, or
  • direction.

During:

A designer will sometimes give a range, like “in about three weeks”. Set the relationship up at the beginning to succeed: let the graphic designer know your expectations. I will stick up for my artistic brethran here, and say sometimes more time is exactly what we need to pull it together. I would never assume they weren’t on top of it. I’m just saying that the process is different for everyone, and sometimes inspiration doesn’t run on the same clock as the designer’s good intentions. Just being real.

One word: communication.

They need to tell you if they are going to be late, before they miss a deadline. You need to tell them if you expect completion by a certain date.

A better word: Vector

We’re going to get to that, but first some practical examples of printed marketing needs for a business.

Here’s the setup: Your graphic designer gives you a beautiful color logo (yourprettylogo.jpg). It looks great and you’re excited to put it to use. It’s blue and black: 2-colors, right?

pretty-logoI’m afraid it’s not. To achieve that blue (or any color, other than black!), your printer needs to use a full-color setup to print a jpeg in color. So here’s why that’s baaaad.

Example 1: The project is a one color brochure. The printer needs to convert yourprettylogo.jpg to “grayscale” (that’s black ink in shades of gray).

resolution2

To know: when you print one-color, and lines are solid – a piece of vector artwork will print @ 1200 dpi (that’s “dots per inch”, my brotha). The same artwork as a JPG will only print @ 300 dpi.

1200 eats 300 for breakfast.

Example 2: Now, you’re taking out a directory ad. You’re allowed to use red & black in the design. You like the idea of your logo colored red where the blue is now, but with a JPG there’s no easy way to change the colors. You’re stuck with the grayscale again. The ad looks OK, but the type is bold and clean compared to your logo… It’s a less than appealing way to showcase your company’s brand. 1200 gets lunch too.

resolution3

When there are special requirements to make a job look the best it possibly can, you had better have options, or you may be shrugging off quality.

resolution5

Back to the artist who’s working on your logo design, cuz I’m going to help ya avoid the junky logo.

Here it is, the magic pill: Ask them to design it in a VECTOR based program. If they can’t, you may consider someone else. If they say they design in Photoshop, be wary, this is a RASTER program. This is the program most widely used for really fun stuff, (gradients, bevels, drop shadows…) and really cool logos sometimes…  just get it in vector first. (*the 3-d effect of the science channel “morph” logo was very likely designed in PSD.)

Vector vs. Raster

Vector: Mathematical lines and points tell the computer where to draw the lines. It can be re-sized, re-colored, and rearranged to fit any project without compromising the integrity of the art. You will have those clean lines on a billboard if you want ’em!

If it is not vector— it’s a “raster image”.

Raster: The computer reads pixels made of color. These are photographs. Size is limited to the output-resolution. The artwork can only print so large before it begins to look bad or the file size becomes unmanageable. When a change needs to be made, it’s time-consuming and costly.

After:

I’ve talked about the necessity of having a vector logo and the freedom it allows. This will save time, and above all, setup charges. But, what exactly do you need: handy & like, on your computer?

Common vector file extensions: .ai, .fh, .cdr, .eps, and sometimes .pdf

Minimum: ask for the native file and an .eps. You’ll be covered.

Common raster file extensions: .jpg .gif .png .tif .psd .bmp (and a bunch more)

I would suggest getting a bunch of formats and sizes of your new logo in raster. It’s tough to make these the right size for different applications on your own. I’ll post how to do that later, but for now, just try to cover a few bases. I like to name files with dimensions. i.e. myprettylogo-500×150.jpg

.jpg (.jpeg may not work on your computer, just rename it) Get a one-color logo and a full-color in two sizes, a large and a small one.

*thought: while they are at it, have them put together a square one for FB and G+!

resolution6

.gif &/or .png (optional) with transparent background for web use. I would suggest getting a couple sizes for this too. So if you need to put your logo on a colored background you won’t have a white box around it.

resolution7

.tif (tagged image format) This can be a full-color logo. Ask for it in ‘CMYK’ for printing projects. Again: get a few sizes.

Logo design is an investment. I know that was a lot, but if you can remember “vector” you’ll at least have the freedom to meet exact specifications to make your printed materials exciting, and fun. 🙂

Ask me your format questions in the comments.

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