Design File Types Explained

The Good, The Great, and The (Very) Ugly Types of Branding Files

As a small business owner or non-designer-type, you may ask yourself “Why should I care what type of file I get?”

While there are a few file types that work across most applications, some are more universal than others. By having these in your hands from the beginning, you’ll save future headaches and problems creating branded materials for print or on the web.

The Great

Formats like .AI, .SVG and .EPS are all great formats and are pretty much universally loved by all designers, advertising agencies and printers. Vector graphics, which in layperson terms means they don’t exist in the same world as a photo taken from a camera, allow for the most amount of flexibility. You can create anything from a billboard to a business card all from the same file. Getting these from your logo or branding designer as soon as the project is done is always a good idea.

The Good

.PDF, .PNG or .TIFF are solid filetypes for a lot of applications, but there are a number of variables that could make these not so evergreen. If they’re not large files (dimensionally speaking), you may run into problems reusing them, and you may be limited to the medium the original creator intended them for. 

The Ugly

For photography and most imagery, .JPG or .GIF can be wonderful. Where it goes wrong is trying to use these file types for logos or branding on larger projects which require a higher resolution than your original file has. These files also don’t allow for transparency, so you’re pretty much stuck using them on white backgrounds for eternity (or whatever background colour happens to be used when it was made).

If you rely solely on these file types (also known as raster images) for using your logo or other branded materials, you’re bound to run into something really nasty before you know it.

Why Care?

In short: it’ll save you time and money in the long run. You won’t have to have another designer recreate your logo for your projects, and printers will love you. Always get more universal types of files from your designer if you know you’ll want to put them on signs, ads, business cards, or more down the line.

Have you had any horror stories involving sending or receiving bad files? Leave them in the comments!