A lot of effort is put into designing a logo that looks good and represents your brand image memorably. It can be a very fun process if you’re starting out from scratch, getting your feet wet with a merger, expanding into a splinter brand, or just giving your current brand image a facelift.
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in color choices, graphics concepts, and brand messages when designing a logo, that you forget to think about the file format.
Yet if you get the file format wrong, or the original resolution is too low, you might end up doing more harm than good. Indeed, more than one startup has tried to DIY their logo, only to find themselves having to start over again from scratch due to a file format or resolution problem.
Luckily, there’s an easy way around these concerns to create a logo that is infinitely scalable, crisp, clean, and easy to transfer to just about any imaginable media. It’s known as a vector file, and it’s been around for a very long time in the world of professional graphic design.
To understand its benefits, and how to use it best, we’re going to have to take a little journey through the nuts and bolts of graphic design.
What Is a Vector File?
Sometimes referred to as a “Vector Logo” a vector file uses mathematics to create crisp curves, sharp angles, and infinitely scalable graphics. They are made up of a collection of points, which are connected via mathematically defined curves and lines to create a staggering array of shapes.
This mathematical core means that a vector file looks just as crisp printed on a massive billboard as it does on a tiny promotional pen. It also means that you can easily export a vector logo to just about any other file format, to be used as a crisp internet graphic, or just about any other type of rasterized file format.
The Difference Between Rasterized & Vector Graphics
The raster graphics that you see being used in a lot of web graphics and some video images are made up of pixels. These are essentially tiny colored squares that together make up the whole of an image or a graphic element. The exact number of pixels in a given square inch is known as DPI (Dots per Inch) or PPI (Pixels Per Inch) and are the core way to express resolution.
Rasterized graphics don’t tend to scale up well, as every single tiny pixel essentially grows in size exponentially. This is what causes the strange colored stair step look, and sometimes blurry effect on a lot of low-quality internet and print graphics.
Vector files don’t specifically use pixels, though they are usually depicted on screen at a razor-sharp 800 DPI. They are represented using a special type of electronic postscript and mathematical vector assignments which create remarkably crisp lines.
The Benefits of a Vector Logo
There are several benefits to vector logos and vector graphics in general that make them the ideal format for creating logos, storing master files, and transferring logos to other file formats or platforms.
Easy to Create
With vector graphics made in sophisticated software programs like Adobe Illustrator, you don’t have to paint or use any other sort of artistic skills to make a line or shape. You can choose basic shapes, and alter their dimensions with ease. You can also create points and adjust the vectors between them to create custom lines and shapes in a matter of seconds.
Easy to Edit
Vector-based graphics give the designer the ability to edit the logo whenever they need to. They can remove elements, restore elements, and alter the shape or scale of an element in seconds. All without the often-slow rendering times of rasterized graphics.
Integrate Easily With Text
The best vector software programs have text features built into them. This allows you to choose a specific font or typeface that is the perfect match for your brand image. The designer can then save one file with the text as editable. Then save another file where the text is “Converted to Outlines.”
This allows you to send the file to any other designer or printer without having to worry if they have the same font installed on their computer. Yet with the backup file still having active text, you can easily alter it in moments.
Since vector files use mathematics to express the graphics, they can be scaled up to be printed in large-scale formats like banners, tablecloths, and even billboards. They can also be scaled down to fit on pens, mugs and small promotional items. Raster-based images can’t do this without grossly losing clarity of resolution.
Easy to Export
Vector graphics are easy to export, and can even be turned into raster logos such as JPG, PNG, TIFF, GIF, and more. This means you can use the vector logo’s master file to scale the image to the appropriate size for how it will be printed or appear on the screen.
Then you export it through a special software filter that translates the mathematical lines and shapes into pixels. The raster graphic moves on, while the original vector file remains infinitely scalable for the next time it needs to be exported.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a Raster Image Be Exported to a Vector File?
A rasterized graphic that uses pixels can be saved into a vector file. Though it will have the same resolution as the original image and won’t be infinitely scalable. It will be a “Box” of an image without any other mathematical representations.
While there are some programs out there that attempt to translate the edges of a raster graphic into a vector logo, like Adobe Streamline, they generally still leave hazy edges and unwanted sharp points in the mathematical extrapolation that will be noticeable to all but the most casual of observers.
What Are the Best Programs For Creating Vector Logos?
Adobe Illustrator is seen as the premier vector graphics program used by professional graphic designers all over the world. It’s integrated with the rest of Adobe’s Creative Suite to work seamlessly with other popular programs like Adobe Photoshop.
Corel Draw does also offer a competitive product. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of Adobe Illustrator, and the interface isn’t as intuitive, but you can use it to create vector logos that are infinitely scalable as well as easy to export.
With their infinite scalability and versatility vector graphics are the ideal format for creating logos and key graphics to use throughout your brand image. If you have a printer or another designer who needs a raster file, you can quickly export the vector file as a JPEG, PNG, or Tiff that they can use. All while retaining the easy-to-edit vector master file.