I work for a branding agency in Southern California and was recently promoted to Lead Designer. While there was a solid system already laid out, I have been trying to address some issues that seem to arise and just polish up on some things. Here is how we currently work in regards to sending logo designs to clients:

We attach an .ai and .jpg file in an email when sending out logo designs. The .jpg is attached as the preview file and the .ai is attached as a way to archive the draft because when we send the email, we "send+archive." Every time we create a new design or make revisions we overwrite the actual .ai file as each draft is archived in the email thread. So we ultimately have only two files per client until the logo is finalized. And if we have to go back to a specific draft we simply grab it from the email thread.

My concern is for the clients that are savvy enough to realize that they could be saving each .ai draft and end up with a number of different designs rather than one final design as we provide "unlimited revisions." Another concern is that other branding agencies could outsource their work to us (I suspect this has already happened and may be happening with some repeat clients) and could again to coming away with a number of designs at the end of the project instead of one final design which is what they paid for.

So my question is do you see any way that I polish up this system? Should I add a password to each .ai file so that it protects us from being used to create unlimited final designs..? Please note that space and storage is an issue as we work with hundreds of clients a month so simply saving each draft in the clients folder wouldn't be a sufficient solution.

Any suggestions welcomed... Thanks in advance!

  • What is the particular problem you are trying to resolve? Is it your client having too many copies? A poor file versioning system? Something else?
    – DA01
    Aug 9, 2015 at 22:17

6 Answers 6


I only send .ai as the final deliverable.

I do not understand why you would ever send .ai files as preliminary drafts. If the desire is merely approval for the design, the jpg is sufficient.

During the approval process the client merely need to see the artwork, not use it or otherwise edit it. Sending the .ai file is sheer folly and I'd suggest you stop immediately. If you need to archive .ai files, do that, but don't do it through email to clients.


The simple answer is that you need more space to appropriately archive. Buy a hard drive, or use cloud storage and ensure you make a backup!

In my experience, having a client folder and archiving that way is the norm.

As mentioned, sending your .ai files is not only an awkward archiving system but it does make you more vulnerable to exploitation.

Failing all else you could at the very least email the ai files to an internal account with the client name and draft number as the subject line. This is purely a work around to save you from sending these files to the client, more space is the ideal solution, this email suggestion is just to tide you over for the very very short term.

Hope it works out!


I'm not clear on what specific problem you are trying to resolve, but, in general, using email for both file versioning and archiving seems like a recipe for disaster at some point in the future.

Ideally you'd have a proper system in place for versioning files locally on perhaps a shared drive or cloud storage (both being backed up).

Having people go through old emails to find versions seems, at best, time consuming, and worst, a disaster if the mail server goes down or the like.


File Format

AI for revisions...?

Do not send AI files!. A PNG in my opinion for a logo is the best file for revisions.

For a live presentation a PDF perhaphs.


If you are an agency you probably can prepare a web based system.

A simple webpage


There is no need to be very sopisticated. A simple html with an image will do.

A more elaborated system could be that this page is password protected, adding a comment section for feedback.

Probably a simple slideshow to prepare for diferent options.

You could adapt

Either a cms like wordpress, or a forum like simple machines forum. Asign proper permissions to see a specific section, making it not public.

A simple Google drive storage

A google docs presentation perhaphs?

A project management system

Like Fredcamp https://freedcamp.com/ or Trello https://trello.com/ There are others, but this ones are free, but with small storage capacity, you can upgrade.

This question is somehow related to this: What is your file naming convention you use for version control?


I'm always saving a new file and then putting all the old files into an "Backup"-Folder which contains all files in chronological order

The naming looks like this most of the time:

NameOfTheFile__2015_07_26__10_00 NameOfTheFile__2015_07_26__12_00 NameOfTheFile__2015_07_28__11_30

This works very well for .psd or .ai files but it's pretty storage heavy

I recommend to buy (amazon) cloud storage space where it's pretty cheap to save files long term

If it's a text-based progress such as programming I'm using Git (pretty common umong programmers) which is very low on storage data but does not work very well on such files like .jpg, .ai or .psd


Sending proofs:

Prepare a PDF/JPG layout for your proofs and include on this the version (eg. 01A), the date, the name of the client and your intellectual property info with your own contact details. If you're worried about clients using the logo drafts, rasterize them and add them to that digital PDF/JPG proofs (I send both.)

With that system, the client can easily refer to the proofs that were accepted or changes he wants to revert to.

An example:

Example of designer digital proof

Naming convention:

This question has some answers in the url below.

I keep my files on my hard disks, and backup hard disks. I refer to the proofs system above if I need to compare versions. These proofs are always in their own folder named "0-proofs", and use my convention naming system.

How to name files: What is your file naming convention you use for version control?

Your Archives

Use a backup system for your archives; I use 2 external hard drives and one is a backup of the first hard drive. Change them every 2-4 years.

Your client's archives

For your clients, only send them the vector files once they are fully approved and paid. You can share a Dropbox with them and put your files there but honestly, I only do this with clients who have a lot of projects.

It's their responsibility to archive the files you send them and pay for the resources required for this. Suggest them to archive these files as they receive them. If they need them again someday, you can resend them to the clients for free or make them pay for the time it takes to find back the archived logos.

Emailing the proofs and final files

I use "hightail" to send my files; I can get a receipt when they were downloaded and leave them there for a specific period (2 weeks, 3 months, etc.) It's also useful because you can use their apps to upload the files and compress (or not) entire folders simply by right-clicking on the folder and uploading them; it acts a bit as sending emails, you can add a subject, and message with your files. The client doesn't need to have an account with Hightail to download them. Very clean way of sending files.

You could also have a look at Hightail Space; you can upload proofs there and use this space a bit like Basecamp. Your clients will be able to leave comments exactly where revisions need to be done, a bit like adding comments on a PDF. But they'll need to register to a free account though.

You could always look at online tools such as Basecamp. I personally hate it and find it messy. I find it easier and faster to use Hightail and emails for communication.

How to send the logos

A similar question was asked in the url below:

Industry standard file format deliverables for logos?

In general, send vectorized logo that have been cleaned-up and where the fonts are "outline." You don't send fonts or editable files besides the vector itself. Yes, another designer could open these files one day but that's normal.

Passwords on proofs or final files

No, don't add passwords! That will hard to manage for you and annoying for the client. When you'll provide final files, you have to expect they might be used by other designers or printers.

For your proofs, you protect them by adding your intellectual property tag and by sending files that will be hard to vectorize back (eg. rasterized, and not too big PDF/JPG.)

If you don't rasterize your vector logos and send a PDF, they're quite easy to extract.

PS: My system is the same as the ones that were used in agencies and print places where I worked. That's what they used to make their invoicing system, archive system (digital, films and plates), and all the communication easy to find and to refer to. When you'll end up with thousands of files, you will be happy to have adopted a very strict naming convention!

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