The time has finally come; you’re going to put your company’s logo on signs, t-shirts, mugs, billboards, vehicles, dogs, cats, random citizens, EVERYTHING! Even the moon?! YES! Stick it up there! What about the sun? … not the sun, it’s too hot, but everywhere else!
You get with a printer, describe your master plan for world brand saturation, and she’s totally on board. Both of you are jazzed. She’s ready to roll. You’re excited. All she needs now is your logo…
You: “Grab it from my website.”
Printer: “Ummm… you mean the logo on your banner?”
You: “That’s the one.”
Printer: “The one that’s 80 pixels by 20 pixels?”
You: “I guess. If that’s the one in the top left corner of the front page, then yes.”
Printer: “… we have a problem.”
If you’ve read my post about vector logos, and why you should have them, then you already know what the problem is. If you haven’t, you’re more than welcome to, but to save you a bit of time “Vector images can be scaled up (and down, and up again) indefinitely without losing detail – Raster images can’t.”
The logo on your website is likely a raster image . If the file name ends in “.jpg”, “.gif”, “.bmp”, or “.png”, then it certainly is. If you try to have it printed larger than it’s current size, it will blur. The larger you try to print it, the more blurry it becomes. If your company sells eyeglasses, this could work to your advantage. If not, you need to find a solution.
But wait! You remember, back when your logo was created, the designer sent you some digital files. Now where did you put them? *shuffle*shuffle*curse*crash* Aha! There they are…
Depending on how long ago your logo was made, your digital files were likely given to you on a 5.25″ floppy disk, 3.5″ floppy disk (that isn’t really that floppy), SyQuest disk, Zip disk, CD (the end of “disk” and the beginning of “disc”), DVD or flash drive. If it was within the last couple of years, it’s possible the files were emailed directly to you, or you received links to where they’re hosted on a cloud storage service like Dropbox.
Any older media (pre-CDs) will be tricky or impossible to recover data from, and may have degraded to the point where they’re useless. Adding to the difficulty, the further back you go, it’s possible your logo’s in a format that isn’t used these days, and can’t be read by current software. Worse, even if you have the files on a CD or DVD your logo isn’t safe; that media also degrades over time.
If your CD (or DVD) is more than 5 years old, you should stop reading this post, check to make certain it’ll still load in your computer, and that you can still read the files. If it does, and you can, copy everything off the old disc and upload the files to a cloud storage service  right now PLUS burn them back onto a couple of new CDs. Keep those CDs in different locations from each other, to protect against loss: burglary, fire, tornado, children… the list goes on. That should ensure your logo will be safe for a few more years.
Now that you’ve done your best to “future proof” your company logo, let’s consider what files you might have.
Odds are that unless you paid extra, you don’t have a vector version of your logo. Some designers do that intentionally, expecting you to come back to them when you need a vector version, and pay extra for the file. You need it. They have it. Money, money, money.
I feel that’s shady. When I build a logo for a client, I give them a set of raster files in both .png (with transparent backgrounds) and .jpg formats at multiple sizes, and a set of four vector files; an .ai, .eps, .pdf and .svg. There are other vector formats as well, but those four are the most common that I’ve seen while working as a designer, and a printer would be happy to be given any of them.
If one of your files ends in any of those four extensions, then your logo might be vector. I say might be because it’s possible to embed raster images in those formats, and they don’t have to have a single vector shape in them. I’ve also had a client change a file extension from .jpg to .eps when I asked him for a vector version of his logo. “Look for an ‘eps’ file,” I said. He thought outside of the box. Don’t do that. Changing a file extension doesn’t change the file type, and it will lead to people making fun of you years later in a blog post. Steve.
If you have any of those files, send them off to the printer. She’ll check them out and let you know if you’re good to go.
Let’s say you aren’t. Something’s wrong with the files. Now what?
Now you hope you have a large, clean, sharp edged version of your logo, either in a digital high-resolution raster file, or a physical printed version that’s at least five inches wide and crisp. The physical version is only helpful if you know someone with a good quality scanner; the person at the print shop can probably help you with that.
The printer may also be able to create the vector version from the raster file for you. They might do it for free, or it could cost extra. The cost will vary depending on complexity of the logo, and quality of the source file. It doesn’t hurt to ask. If they don’t create vector versions of logos themselves, they may know someone who does. If they don’t have any suggestions, you can always check with us.
If you want to try to vectorize your logo yourself, and see how it turns out, I recommend you have a look at Vector Magic. They offer both an Online option and a Desktop version. Unless you plan on going into business recreating logos, you won’t need the desktop version. If you have one or two logos that you need to convert, then the Online option is perfect. When signing up you’ll get two free download tokens. If it’s something you can see yourself using for several logos, you can either purchase more download tokens, or sign up for a monthly subscription that allows unlimited downloads. Your tokens aren’t spent when uploading, so you can fiddle around with the results until you’re satisfied, and then spend a token to download the final vector file. They offer an extensive FAQ section, as well as tutorials to help you get the best results possible out of their program. I’ve never used their Online option before, but I have used the Desktop version a few times in the past, and I really liked the results. Again, the better the quality of your source file, the better the result will be.
No matter how you go about getting it, eventually you’ll have a vector version of your company logo and be ready to resume your grand branding plans. If you really want your logo on the moon, before all the good ad space is taken, your next step will be to acquire a rocket…