How to ensure your logo works for your small business

Question: I’ve had a number of suppliers ask me for high res logos or file types I don’t have, and often when I get things printed or made for my business my logo looks completely different - just what the f*&k is going on with my logo!?”

You’ve just got your business cards - or signage, or shirts, or stationary - back from yet another supplier and your logo is different to what it should look like.

Again.

*insert your chosen list of expletives here*

You know that keeping your branding consistent is the cornerstone of your marketing, but that’s a little hard to do when:

  • Suppliers ask for file types you have no idea about (what is a .xyz file anyway?)

  • They ask for file types you simply don’t have or

  • They say your logo is no good because it’s not ‘high res’ enough (*slow blink*)

This logo loop can feel endless & hugely frustrating, often resulting in a finished product that is just not - quite - right.

Again.

Looking for some clarity? Well, you’ve come to the right place my friend.

I want to give you the knowledge you need to deal with your suppliers efficiently, understand the jargon and supply them with the file types they need to give your brand the presentation it deserves. There’s a lot of ground to cover with the topic of logos & file types, so this particular post will explain the 4 file types I give my clients to meet all possible needs. This is a great step one to make sure you have everything you need at hand.

At the end of this post, you can check out a free downloadable checklist I made for you that you can keep on hand - maybe print it out & pin it to the wall in your office for future reference. I’m here to make sure that never again are you left scratching your head wondering what the heck the signwriter is talking about.

Or just what they were thinking when they went ahead and picked a completely different design for your signage.

The problem could be your original logo designer.

There is a distinct possibility that the graphic artist who originally created your logo files actually had zero idea what they were doing:

  1. This might have been you - and that’s totally OK. When you’re starting out you can’t afford all the bells and whistles, so props to you for having a go at this one yourself. You gotta start somewhere!

  2. You may have been giving a newbie some experience - again, fantastic. I too was fortunate enough to have amazing small business owners give me a chance to experiment and learn with their business.

  3. You may have been unlucky enough to have used a dud designer - unfortunately, there are WAY TOO FRIGGEN MANY out there who download a pirate version of Photoshop & call themselves a designer overnight. Whilst there is nothing wrong with being self-taught, some will sell their services as an experienced pro without actually having the experience or knowledge to deliver the product you require. And you’ll never know until it comes time to put that logo to work, when you’ll find it falls over at the first hurdle.

Whilst I always explore options for DIYing as much of your marketing as possible, unfortunately a logo is something you simply can’t skimp on.

But that doesn’t mean it should cost you the earth either.

If you’re in any of the above situations, it’s time to invest in a professionally designed logo or run the risk of constantly battling with this issue (and a mishmash of printed goods that makes you want to cry). As in all things, you should get a couple of quotes, but while you’re shopping around here are some other ways you can assess a designer’s ability:

  • Check out their Instagram - any designer worth their salt will be on this platform as it’s highly visual, perfect for us to showcase our work.

  • Look through their previous logo jobs, find the businesses they relate to and reach out to them - ask them how they found the designer to deal with, what their rates were like and if they’re happy with the finished product.

  • When requesting a quote, ask them to be very clear about what’s included in the cost. The big thing to look for is ownership - for some reason that is frankly beyond me, some designers retain the rights to the ownership of your logo, while you only get to use it. IMO - 100% crap. If you’ve paid for it in full, it’s yours - go nuts.

  • Also make sure your next logo designer delivers all your logo variations (different colours, layouts, etc.) in ALL of the following 4 file types:


The Fantastic Four of Logo Files.

#1: Vector

Also known as: and EPS (yourlogo.eps) and Adobe Illustrator File (yourlogo.ai) or Scalable Vector Graphic (yourlogo.svg)

Without being crazy technical, this is best described as turning an image into a mathematical equation. What that means is design software can produce it at ANY size without pixellation/blurryness because rather than stretching it out to fill a space, it shows it as a series of lines and shapes.

Think of it like algebra - imagine if your logo contained an oval, which was twice as high as it was wide (or, it’s height was 2a and it’s width was a.) No matter how big or small your logo needs to be - signage, billboard or business card - it will always retain these dimensions. And therefore, retain clarity.

This is perfect for products that you would use a professional supplier to create - business cards, workwear, signage, promotional items, vehicle graphics - all these suppliers will worship the ground you walk on if you can supply them with an EPS (speaking from experience, as I have been every single one of those suppliers at some point in my career!)

You often need specialist software to read these file types, so you may not be able to view this file yourself when you receive it. But a good way to fact check it  is with the next file type:

#2: PDF

yourlogo.pdf

PDFs (or Portable Document Format) were developed by Adobe in the 1990s to meet this exact need - allowing any file to be saved and viewed by anyone in the way it was intended to be shown, without needing expensive software to do so. The PDF logo files allow you to see what the EPS should look like without any changes to colour, loss of fonts, etc.

To check that your PDF is an accurate representation of your EPS logo, you can open it and zoom right in - you should be able to see a crisp, clean line no matter how close you get to the image.

See the difference between key logo file types | Meredith Paige Small Business Marketing

#3: JPEG

yourlogo.jpeg or yourlogo.jpg

I find these to be handy for clients to use if they’re dealing with an application that’s a little less - well, professional. You may be sponsoring a local school and they want to put your logo in their newsletter, or you may want to put your logo on your employee contracts that are being written up in a word processor. It can also be handy for some web based applications.

Think of this as being for instances where you’re not looking to generate a lot of business as such. JPEGs do have a limit to the size you can show them at - if you stretch them out too much you will end up with a look that is blurry, pixellated and unprofessional. So if you’re paying good money for marketing material you should ALWAYS be using types #1 and #2.

#4: PNG

yourlogo.png

This is another nifty one to have as it allows you to have a transparent background behind your logo. Where a JPEG will generally have a white or solid-coloured box around it, PNGs allow you to place your logo over photos and different coloured backgrounds.

These are great especially if an SBO (Small Biz Owner) is creating their own social media posts, as they can pop their brand on top for a bonus bit of professionalism. Just be conscious of what’s going on behind your logo when you do this - don’t sacrifice the visibility of your logo; this should always be priority one.

An example of how a PNG logo can be laid over a background image - see my logo at the bottom of this post graphic? Notice how you can see the paper background around it, without any white box surrounding it.

An example of how a PNG logo can be laid over a background image - see my logo at the bottom of this post graphic? Notice how you can see the paper background around it, without any white box surrounding it.


Get your logo back on track.

Whenever I take on a new client, assessing their logo is always step one as no marketing material can be made without a logo that can be shown with clarity at any size - it will restrict future designs and what your logo can be applied to.

Check out the PDF checklist I created so you can assess your logo to make sure you have the file types you need to move forward - if you can’t tick all the boxes, I urge you to get this sorted once and for all.

Once you know you have a logo that can work hard promoting your business in the formats you need, you’ll never have to worry about confusing supplier conversations or disappointing finished products again.

Ready? Let’s get it sorted!


Meredith Paige - Small Business Marketing Meredith Paige is a freelance marketer dedicated to giving small business owners the tools they need to DIY their marketing. She creates courses, templates & workshops to make small biz marketing achievable & affordable - just the way it should be. You can check her out on Instagram & Facebook, or send her an email to say hi.