When did I become a logo hunter? It’s always been part of the job. Since I started as a designer in a large regional agency, getting hold of the right print-ready logos has always been tricky, but is really very important. Yes, it’s easy to search google for the logo you need, but did you know that web images are only 72 dots (or pixels) per inch? For print, images need to be 300 dpi or even better, and crucially to this blog, a vector graphic.
What is a vector graphic?
A vector graphic is an image that is made by maths instead of pixels.
This blown up version of the London Underground logo shows you how pixels make up the white text, blue rectangle and red circle. The image next to it shows you the information that a vector graphic file contains to create the same logo – at the same quality whatever the size.
So when I ask people for a copy of their vector logo the conversation generally goes like this:
Me: Do you have a vector eps of your logo I can use?
Client: I don’t understand what that is…
Me: It’s a version of your logo that is made by maths instead of pixels… (see above!)
Client: OK. I don’t think I have one of those.
Me: Don’t worry, send me the ‘logo’ folder from your server and I’ll have a look and see what you have.
When the folder arrives it might contain some jpegs, a slightly more rubbish gif with the file name logo-WEB.gif and a random assortment of Microsoft Office documents which contain the same poor quality logos. This is not my clients’ fault, but we need the logo!
The hunt begins…
How do we go about hunting out that all important vector logo? Here’s some tricks of our trade…
1. Trawl the website
Some organisations might have a page where you can download their logo and brand guidelines. UEA is very helpful in this respect. Other organisations far less so. Logo hunter success rating 3/10.
Our clients are often not in Marketing and Comms roles, and so an email address or contact number for their marketing department can get results, although it depends on how helpful the person is on the other end. Responses range from “No problem, what’s your email address” to “Sorry, who are you?” and “We can’t give our logo out to just anyone, you need to fill out a form”. You can also get your client in trouble for not reading the extensive guidelines their Comms Manager wrote two years ago and emailed to everybody. Logo hunter success rating 5/10.
3. PDF raiding
If an organisation has had their annual report, accounts, catalogues brochures professionally designed – hopefully the designer used the vector logo. PDF files maintain vectors without turning them into pixels. A google site search of their website for PDFs can show up some very useful documents, for example site:www.uea.ac.uk Brochure PDF. We can then open the PDF in Adobe Illustrator, grab the logo out and save it as a vector eps. Logo hunter success rating 8/10.
Tools such as What the Font and Identifont help us to match logo fonts. We can also trace other elements of the logo (to get that ‘swoosh’ as swooshy as it ought to be). We’re very careful with redraws, but I’ve seen some very poor examples which, rather like forgeries undetected in major galleries, have become the master copies. Can be a risky approach! Logo hunter success rating 6/10.
5. Ask their other agency
Really best avoided. Responses range from “Why should we help you work for our client?” (despite the fact the logo was being used as one of 20 stakeholder profiles) to “we designed it in powerpoint”. To be fair, there are lots of helpful designers out there, but most would prefer their clients to supply you with logos directly and will want to check with their client before they give you anything. Logo hunter success rating 2/10.
As future brand leaders, why is any of this relevant to you?
When you commission a logo, it is vitally important that you know what to ask for. You don’t have to be a designer to know what a vector graphic is. It’s easy to provide simple, controllable access to your logo for designers to get what they need quickly. Here’s what you need to do…
Ask for a master folder of your logos with the following…
• [CMYK] Vector eps logos in at least 2 versions of Adobe Creative Suite. The most current, and something older. Fonts must be all be outlined. Ask for versions in colour, black and white for flexibility.
• A hi res RGB jpeg for people to use in MS Office at 300dpi
• A hi res PNG for people to use transparently in MS Office at 300dpi
• Web versions at 72 dpi – can be jpeg, gif or png
It’s essential that you get all of this once the logo has been signed off. If you don’t ask for it then, I’ve known design agencies to charge for accessing their archives to email it to you. Importantly, you don’t want to have to wait for so and so to be back from annual leave, or sometimes even for such and such to come out of their meeting at 4pm. Get it now, and know where you keep it!
Get some branding guidelines… Even if it’s just a single page of A4. Include minimum sizes, a guide to filetypes and their best uses, set an exclusion zone. More examples of awesome brand guidelines. Importantly, give contact details so people with questions know who to ask.
If a job’s worth doing… If you designed your own logo in paint (nothing against it, I’ve seen some great ones…) or if you’ve had a logo competition (and the winner submitted in pencil crayon) then spend a few quid making sure you have it properly drawn into vector.
Put everything online… As you can see from my confessions above, I’ll do what I have to do to get the job done, but that means extra work for me and risk factors for you, so let’s have full open access to vector logos! By making your logo accessible in the correct formats, you are protecting it from people taking terrible versions from google images an messing about with them. You’re also making designers and your colleagues more accountable for their actions with your brand – which has to be a good thing!
So brand leaders, now you know. Look after your logo, and your logo will look after you!
Peter Moore Fuller is a Director of MADE Agency, a design led marketing agency in Norwich.