Industry standard file format deliverables for logos?


During an academic discussion regarding file formats I received from a most excellent designer, I thought I was correct in writing (based on my experience with hired work):

...the industry standard for logos is vector...

I received the following response:

Industry standards are interesting things, in that they are more often talked about than actually followed... We can find all sorts of references to push one point or another, I only talk from experience, and my experience is that even large corporations ala Microsoft are fine with raster.

My question then is perhaps not as simple as I thought:

When hiring a designer to create a logo for an organization (corporate, non-profit, etc.), what is the industry standard deliverable file format (vis-à-vis vector versus raster)?

(Of course, hiring a designer should come with a contract that explicitly states the file format, but most people aren't aware [or don't care] about various file formats and might therefore neglect such a clause.)

This is different than asking what should go into the deliverable package. This question is about an authoritative source that describes what is expected of professional-level deliverables from designers. Some people agree that vector graphics should be included, but is that a de facto standard, or is there an official (or semi-official) body that dictates what people should expect as deliverables from graphic design?

6/17/2015 4:35:00 AM

Accepted Answer

There is no standard.

Seasoned designers often understand the value of vector files and will often start with the vector format then generate raster format. The resolution independence of vector makes it almost automatically a "given" for a logo. A logo is most often sized and scaled a whole range of sizes. Starting with, or providing vector, just makes sense. Not to mention how much easier the entire workflow is if you start with vector to get to raster as opposed to vice versa.

That being posted, some designers will just provide what they can "get away with" or whatever the client is happy with. If a client hires someone and specifically mentions they "want a logo in PNG format so we can use it on our web site" -- well the designer may just create a raster image. After all, if that's all the client wants or is willing to pay for, then why put in the extra work? To be frank, I'd still create a vector version, I just wouldn't provide that to the client. The only designers I know that work exclusively with raster formats for logos are those that don't know how to use vector software.

Ultimately what is delivered should be detailed in the contract and initial project scope discussion. A high quality, ethical, designer is going to educate clients as to what they need -- after all, it is the designer who is the knowledgable person in the arrangement. However, just because a designer recommends a format does not mean the client will accept that recommendation. If a client is not interested in paying (in time or money) for the necessary formats a logo should be delivered in, then a reduction in deliverable formats may be what is agreed upon.

In any event, I'm always leery when I hear a client requesting a specific format from a designer and the designer states "that's not needed".

In some cases that may be true, especially when it is technically not possible. There are some formats used in design that just do not transfer easily (or well) to an end-user software application. I can't take that 64pg InDesign piece and just hit a couple buttons to make a Word file because a client asks. There's additional manual time, and costs involved which are billable. If the client doesn't wish to pay for that, then we've reached an impasse.

In my experience, it is pretty rare that a client will ask for a specific format, which is technically possible, is willing to pay for any additional time needed, and there's a valid argument to not deliver that format other than lack of education or training.

In my opinion, every agreement for logo creation should always start with requiring a fully editable vector format. Additional formats should then be secondary and on an as-needed basis. I, personally, always ensure a vector format is provided in several variations. Any raster images are provided merely for convenience since with the vector, raster formats can be generally created in a matter of moments simply by converting the vector to raster. Raster to vector conversion is a whole other ballgame.

For the record, Microsoft uses vector formats for their logos. Raster is only used when the end-user delivery method demands it... such as no SVG support or web pages (since older versions of their browser [IE] lack the most support for modern formats). I assure you any printed material from Microsoft uses a vector logo. I don't know what the catalyst is to you referring to that person as an "excellent designer". However, Their quote regarding raster formats for logos is just absurd in my opinion.

6/17/2015 5:46:00 AM