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Some background & context

When including third party logos, we often get given low quality files. Mostly these are low resolution JPGs, but I have seen badly hand drawn scans (expected to be used as is) or even photos of old stationary.

Recently we were given a folder with all the variations of a logo in a number of formats and sizes. Great! But. There are a lot of variation, some of which have only very slight differences, a lot of file types, a lot of sizes and no usage guidelines. So it's not always obvious which to use. I don't have the files to hand to count but there was probably at least 40 different files.

Another example: I worked on a project for a company who wanted a main logo with a variation for each department, then for each of these a horizontal version with the full company name, website and tagline, a square version with just the logo and website and just the logo.. Then for all of these a PDF, an EPS, a low res JPG, a high res JPG, a low res transparent PNG and a high res transparent PNG. All the variations were sufficiently different and they did (in their opinion) have justification for wanting all the different file types so this isn't as bad as the first example, but I did think this was too much.


My question - How many variations is too many? (or too few)

Note: By variations, I mean all the final files you deliver, so all actual design variation (e.g. horizontal / vertical / square variations, 4 color & monochrome variations, size variations etc) as well as all file types (e.g. EPS, JPG, PDF) and sizes (e.g. low and high res JPGs)

I always at a minimum supply vector and bitmap versions of the logo in full color and monochrome. Assuming no specific requests, is this enough? Should low-res versions be supplied, or is relying on the client to downsample the high-res version ok?

Size variations are also needed (sometimes?), for example, simplifying complicated shapes for showing the logo at smaller sizes. Should this always be done, or only when absolutely needed?

I understand this depends on a lot of factors and varies for each project, but should I try to keep the number of files to the minimum essentials or supply as much (as is appropriate and within reason as I can?


Edit: This question - How Many Directions / Concepts - is about initial ideas and concepts, I am asking specifically about finished work and the final delivered files.

This question - Logo Pack - What should I include? - is very similar, but more general. I believe the reasoning behind the question is different.

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Regarding your first example with the different variations of the same logo, I guess it's necessary to create a guideline for this. Sometimes this happens when people simply don't know what's good or not, and just accumulate a bunch of different logos over the years. For this example, you're right, it's too much and you can get rid of the scans, and clean up that "logo bank" for good! Maybe you're the only one who knows file quality well enough to do this. Instead of using 50 different files, have the specifications written in the PDF guide instead and keep only the top quality versions.

But for the second example with different departments, it's normal you'll end up having tons of logos. I think it's alright to provide the color versions with the vectors/high resolution and web version already optimized in your "basic package." You simply need to make sure your logos are sorted properly in different folders that are well identified. That's my way to do it: Industry standard file format deliverables for logos?)

If it's too long to prepare all different versions and you work with other designers, you can also write a guideline for the logo, the tagline, the margins, colors, etc. Personally, I prefer to do all the versions myself because this way I'm certain there's no "Microsoft Word" designer or "Photoshop Guru" who will mess up the logo and downgrade the quality.

I also find it very convenient to always have the files ready for any purpose. When someone asks for a specific format of the logo, you can simply open your folders and send it without having to open any software or having to do conversions. It's a bit more work at the start but on mid/long term it can be a time saver.

The grayscale, bitmap or small monogramme (eg. favicon kind of logo) can be charged in extra. That's stuff you can ask when preparing a quote for a project or to offer as an extra when the logo is completed. It does add value to your services to offer more and you also show you care about your work. But I still consider this as a bonus.

Regarding the vertical and horizontal versions, that too should be an extra that you need to include in your design or preparation price. It's normal some company will want these versions, not all logos are usable vertically and horizontally even though the ideal is to create a logo that will fit well in any kind of layout.

You ask if you should keep the files to a minimum; my answer to this is it depends on the budget, who will use the logos and if the company need these variations. For example, banks, distribution network or corporations often need all the possible variations for their marketing team because it gives them the freedom to manage their identity themselves; if you don't do it,someone else will eventually. For the small budgets or companies, you can offer this as extra or create the logo as needed. Sometimes I need to modify an existing logo for a specific project and it ends up becoming another version of that horizontal/vertical logo. It simply gets added to the "official" logo bank. When that happens, I send a new set of files to my client.

I don't think it's responsible to let clients convert their own web versions of a logo because a lot of time there's quality change, color change, they sometimes use online tools that don't make a good conversion or they even distort the logo sometimes. I'm sure you've been horrified at least once in your life to see a version of your beautiful logo full of pixels on a Facebook fan page profile picture! I like to provide the web logos in png and jpg, from 100px to 800px, that's quick to prepare and usually good enough for what they need. As an extra you can even prepare the logo for social media.

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