Everything You Need to Know About Logo File Formats

The image shows a logo for an imaginary company called 'Nestor', white on black. It uses radial blur as a metaphor for vector vs raster file formats, as its sharp in the middle and blurred on the edges, somewhat like a raster file. Its introducing the article 'Logo File Formats: Everything You Need to Know.'

By Nine Blaess | 7:01 min

In this article
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    So, you’ve just received a stack of logo files from your brand designer, including formats like SVG, PNG, and EPS? But now you’re wondering what to do with these files. What’s even the difference between vector and raster logo formats? Which to choose for what application? In this article, I’ll break down the most common logo file formats and give some practical advice on selecting the right one for each purpose.

    When it comes to logo file formats, there are two main types:

    • Vector file formats
    • Raster file formats 
    little icons for the following file formats displayed in a row: EPS, AI, PDF, SVG, JPG, PNG. EPS, AI, PDF and SVG are grouped into vector formats, PNG and JPG are grouped into raster formats

    Depending on the format, you can save colour profiles within these files, too—such as CMYK for printing or RGB for digital use. But we will get to that later. First, let’s clarify the difference between vector and raster logo files.

    Vector Logo File Formats

    Vector logo formats are based on maths. They use points, lines and curves to construct images. Or in your case: the logo.

    Therefore, a vector file is resolution-independent, meaning you can enlarge and reduce it without quality loss. This means, vector formats allow for smooth lines, sharp edges, and precise shapes in any size.

    They are ideal for geometric designs, typography, and illustrations that require flexibility in size.

    Vector formats are also easily editable, making them the best choice when collaborating with a designer.

    The most commonly used vector logo formats are:

    EPS (Encapsulated PostScript)

    EPS files are supported by various design software. So, almost everyone can open them—from your printer to the designers working on your brand.

    As a vector format, EPS files support transparency, meaning you can place them seamlessly in front of backgrounds.

    EPS files also allow embedding various colour profiles, such as RGB, CMYK or Pantone, making them well-suited for printing.

    EPS logo file format gets commonly used for:

    • Print materials (business cards, posters, brochures, etc.)
    • Stickers and labels for clothing or packaging
    • Digital fabrication (laser cutting, engraving, …)
    • Sending the logo to a designer for editing or using it on branded materials.

    Pros of EPS format

    • Scales without loss in quality
    • Supports transparency
    • Supported by various design software
    • Supports various colour profiles
    • Accepted by professional printers

    Cons of EPS format

    • Still needs specialised software for editing, such as Adobe Illustrator
    • Relatively large file size
    • No web compatibility

    AI (Adobe Illustrator)

    AI is the native file format of Adobe Illustrator. AI files retain all the layers, shapes, and editable properties. This makes it easy for designers to update or change the logo.

    Like EPS files, AI files are vector formats. So they share many of the same benefits. 

    AI logo file format gets commonly used for:

    • Print materials (business cards, posters, brochures, etc.)
    • Digital fabrication (laser cutting, engraving, …)
    • Sending the logo to a designer for editing or using it on branded materials.

    Pros of AI format

    • Scales without loss in quality
    • Supports transparency
    • Supported by most design software
    • Advanced editing capabilities in Adobe Illustrator
    • Supports various colour profiles
    • Accepted by professional printers

    Cons of AI format

    • Needs specialised software for editing, such as Adobe Illustrator
    • Relatively large file size
    • No web compatibility
    • Font compatibility issues when a font is not embedded or outlined

    PDF (Portable Document Format)

    PDF files are versatile and can store both—vector and raster data.

    They are widely supported, which makes them easy to share across platforms. Depending on their colour profile, this makes them useful for digital and print applications.

    PDF logo file format gets commonly used for:

    • Digital presentations
    • Online documents such as e-books, white-papers, user manuals, or brand guidelines
    • Email signatures 
    • Print shops for digital printing

    Pros of PDF format

    • Can be opened, viewed & printed using free PDF viewers
    • Scalability without loss in quality (vector file)
    • Embeds fonts and images
    • Exports specific print settings
    • Supports various colour profiles
    • Accepted by professional printers

    Cons of PDF logo file:

    • Limited edibility for a designer working with the logo

    SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics)

    SVG is an image format that uses XML-based code to define visual elements like shapes, colours, and fonts. Hence, it’s widely supported by modern web browsers.

    SVG files also support interactive features, meaning elements can be coded to respond to user actions like hover effects.

    Unlike other vector formats, SVG does not embed specific colour profiles. Instead, the colour profile is determined by the software or device opening the file.

    SVG is best suited for simpler designs. Elements like gradients or intricate patterns can slow the rendering speed and overall performance.

    SVG logo file format gets commonly used for:

    • Logos on responsive websites and web applications
    • Mobile application icons
    • Infographics and data visualisation
    • Animation and interactive graphics on the web

    Pros of SVG format

    • Scalability without loss in quality
    • Small file size
    • Can be edited using text editors (coding) or vector graphics software

    Cons of SVG logo file:

    • Being written by code, SVG is a bit more complex to work with
    • Older browsers may have limited support for some features or effects

    Raster Logo File Formats

    Raster files are made of hundreds of  individual pixels creating the image, much like a mosaic. This is why they are resolution-dependent; you cannot scale them without loosing quality.

    Raster logo file formats work for complex designs with detailed colour variations and gradients, as these elements can be challenging to express as vectors.

    The most commonly used raster files for logos are JPG and PNG.

    JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

    JPG files have a small size due to their compression. This makes them popular for digital and web applications.

    But they may not always be the best choice for logo files due to their limitations in quality and transparency.
    JPG files primarily use the sRGB colour profile.

    Although you can embed other colour profiles in a JPG file, they may not get recognised by all applications and devices.

    JPG logo file format gets commonly used for:

    • Displaying logos on social media and other digital applications
    • Digital marketing materials, such as digital ads, email campaigns, and social media posts

    Pros of the JPG format

    • Small file size
    • Supported by most software, devices, and web browsers

    Cons of the JPG format

    • Doesn’t support transparency
    • Loss in quality due to compression
    • Doesn’t scale well without quality loss

    PNG (Portable Network Graphics)

    PNG is another widely used raster logo file format. In contrast to JPG, PNG supports transparency and retains quality. So, when no vector logo is at hand, PNG is your next best option.

    Like JPG, PNG files primarily use the sRGB colour profile. And although you can embed other colour profiles, they may not get recognised by all applications and devices.

    PNG logo file format gets commonly used for:

    • Website logos, social media icons, digital ads, app interfaces, and other digital applications
    • In images, placed on various backgrounds or layered with other design elements

    Pros of PNG format

    • Preserves original image quality
    • Supports alpha channel transparency
    • Supported by most software, web browsers, and devices

    Cons of PNG format

    • Larger file sizes compared to JPG
    • Limited, not lossless scalability

    There are other vector-based formats not as commonly used, such as PSD (Adobe Photoshop Document), TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) or BMP (Bitmap). But I will not go into detail here.

    Likewise, there are other vector-based formats that may come in handy for specific uses. For example, an embroidery company may request a DXF (Drawing Exchange Format) file.

    Colour Profiles and Logo File Formats

    I’ve mentioned colour profiles a few times. Let’s explore this a bit further.

    By understanding the relationship between colour profiles and logo file formats, you can make informed decisions about which combination best suits your specific need—whether it’s for digital use, print materials, or both.

    Let me explain.

    We use different colour profiles for various applications. Generally, RGB for digital use and CMYK or Pantone for printing.

    Some file formats, such as EPS, AI, or PDF, can store colour profiles within the file. On the other hand, formats like JPG and PNG have limited capabilities in this regard.

    By storing colour information, you can guarantee that your logo’s colours are maintained and accurately reproduced when opened or printed. That’s necessary to ensuring a consistent brand experience.

    Let’s look at three different colour systems:

    RGB (Red, Green, Blue)

    RGB is your go-to colour profile for digital applications, such as websites and mobile apps.

    RGB is an additive colour system. It uses various combinations of red, green, and blue light to generate a range of colours. The absence of light in all three channels results in black, while the full intensity of red, green, and blue light combined creates white—just as in sunlight.

    RGB has different profiles like sRGB and Adobe RGB, each with its unique characteristics and minor differences.

    CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key/Black)

    Logos intended for print materials, like business cards or brochures, should be saved in the CMYK colour mode.

    Unlike RGB, CMYK is a subtractive colour model. It involves layering cyan, magenta, yellow, and black inks to produce all printable colours. 

    Print shops typically specify the CMYK profile they use. You should check in with them before you export your files.

    Common CMYK profiles include Fogra 39 and SWOP.

    Pantone

    Pantone is a standardised colour-matching system widely used in printing.

    While CMYK colours may vary slightly between different printers, Pantone ensures consistent and precise colour reproduction across all print materials.

    Some Pantone colours, such as metallic gold or vivid neon shades, also offer effects not achievable with CMYK printing. 

    small icons for different file formats shown in a row: EPS, AI, PDF, SVG, JPG and PNG. Image shows EPS, AI, PDF support RGB, CMYK and Pantone colour profiles, SVG has no profile embedded and JPG and PNG support mainly RGB and only limited CMYK.

    If you want to learn more about colours in branding, you might enjoy my article on how to create a unique brand colour palette.

    Who Needs Which File Format?

    As you see, logo file formats are a complex topic. Different people working on your brand will need different files and settings from you. 

    To make it easy for you, here is a quick overview of who needs which file format:

    • Graphic Designers: AI, EPS 
    • Web Designers, Web Developers or Digital Marketers: SVG, PNG, JPG
    • Printers or Publishers: PDF, AI, EPS
    • Signage or Embroidery Companies: AI, EPS, DXF
    Image headline reads "who needs what". Image shows icons for the following file formats displayed in a row: DXF, EPS, AI, PDF, SVG, JPG, PNG. It shows DXF is needed by fabrication services, EPS, AI, and PDF by designers, printer and publishers, and SVG, JPG and PNG by web developers and digital marketers

    Key takeaways

    • There are two groups of logo file formats: vector and raster formats.
    • Vector logo formats like EPS, AI, and PDF are resolution-independent, scalable, and ideal for geometric designs.
    • Raster logo formats, like JPG and PNG, are composed of pixels and are suitable for intricate designs with detailed colour variations like gradients.
    • Each logo file format has its pros and cons in regards of compatibility, file size, and editing capabilities.
    • Colour profiles, such as RGB, CMYK, and Pantone, can be embedded in some file formats. They play a role in accurately reproducing the colours of your logo.

    Title image by Kaboompics

    Nine Blaess

    Nine Blaess

    Hello, I’m Nine. I blend strategy and design to craft engaging brand identities and websites that celebrate the uniqueness of each business.

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