Posted on:September 2015
Logos are displayed in many different ways – along the body of a pen, the top of a web page, the breast of a shirt, the side of a vehicle, in the corner of a business card, the list goes on and on. All of these applications require the logo to be set to different sizes and specs. The benefit of a vector based logo is that it can be scaled infinitely and will always retain its crisp edges without any loss in quality. This provides two great benefits: 1) consistency in the appearance of your logo, which is proven to be important to building brand recognition, and 2) flexibility in your logo to be ready for nearly any use with assurance that it will look sharp and clean in nearly any application.
The main difference between vector and raster graphics is how the image is rendered when the file is opened. Most of the images you see online or in print are raster images. Raster images are made up of pixels, which are little squares of various colors that when combined show a much larger cohesive image. Vector images on the other hand are drawn mathematically. Meaning they are shapes that are sized by formulas rather than a hard number of pixels. This is what allows vector graphics to be scaled infinitely larger or smaller without losing any quality.
Raster images can be reduced in size with only marginal losses in data, but when enlarged the pixels are stretching and enlarged, which is what creates the rough, or pixilated curves you can see in the example below. This degradation in quality is often referred to as “pixelation” or the image being “pixelated” – simply referencing the fact that the eye can see the individual squares/pixels that make up the image.
Raster images aren’t all bad though, they still make up over 90% of the images you see in print and online. Raster images are great for showing lots of detail and color and with so many different raster file types, there is sure to be a format that meets your needs.
Vector graphics are the industry standard for logos and brand materials. Vector art is created with professional illustration software such as Adobe Illustrator. To view most types of vector file formats, this kind of specialty software is required. Vector graphics are created somewhat tediously since each point and shape is drawn by hand. Points are joined into lines, lines joined into shapes, all layered and compiled to form an image. It isn’t efficient to try to create realistic images from vector art – the process is time consuming but certainly not impossible. Vector art excels at simpler shapes and forms, like icons, logos, diagrams, maps and user interface (UI) elements such as buttons.
A good way to determine what kind of logo you currently have is to look at the file type of your current logo. If you have a .JPEG, .BMP, .GIF, .PNG or .TIFF file, it’s definitely a raster logo. If you have a .PDF you may have either a raster or vector logo.
If you have a .AI, .SVG, or .EPS file, then it is likely that you have a vector logo. I have received files from clients that are raster images simply saved as vector formats – unfortunately that doesn’t work to covert from raster to vector. Vector art has to be drawn by hand, line by line, point by point. There are automated ways to covert files, but the end results are often far from perfect.
If you have a raster logo, it’s recommended you contact a graphic designer to re-draw your logo in an industry-standard vector format. Speaking with a professional for this work can be a good opportunity to discuss the effectiveness of your logo as well, maybe there’s room for improvement or maybe it’d just be handy for you to have the designer create a one color and full color version of your logo so you’ll be ready for any future application of your logo.
Another benefit of having a vector logo is that it can be converted easily to any of the raster file types mentioned above, meaning that one vector file can become dozens of different file types with just a few clicks, helping you to be nimble with any future project while also offering the peace of mind that your logo will look clean and sharp in every application.