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How to avoid getting played when ordering a logo design

I’ll be blunt: if you don’t know what you’re asking for when ordering a logo, there’s a good chance you’ll get played.

See, getting your logo done is not easy. And whilst there are some really good agencies that will deliver the perfect final product, with freelancers things are not quite as simple. This post will help you understand exactly what to expect/ask for when ordering a logo design.

Part 1: What types of files you should receive?

When a graphic designer or an agency is making you a logo, you should receive 4 versions of it. These are:

  • RBG Logo
  • CMYK Logo
  • Black Logo
  • White Logo

Let’s review them each in more detail.

Standing for Red, Green, and Blue, RGB are the base colours used for digital screens to display the multitude of colours we see online. For your logo, the RGB version will be the one that looks great on mobile, your website, and pretty much any other design meant for your online presence.

CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow and black (K is for key, as in key colour) and is what printers use to generate the variety of colours we can see on print. This version of your logo is what you will be using when printing your business cards, leaflets, and anything else that will manifest itself in a physical form.

On screen you can expect your CMYK logo to look less bright and intense, but when printed, it should be very similar (if not identical) to your digital logo. Don’t test this with your inkjet printer – those are known for being inaccurate with their colours. If you want to make sure your graphic designer has done a good job, order a small set of business cards and compare the result to what you see on the screen.

The black logo is a version of your logo using only black colour. In some instances where the logo is rather simple, the black version is only going to be the shape of the logo in solid colour. If, however, your logo has a variety of colour shades, the designer will need to spend more time and create a version with shades of grey that represents your logo as closely as possible.

Your black logo will be useful in the instances in which a colour print is not possible and it’s a wonderful idea to have this done professionally at the start, instead of simply having it converted by someone when necessity calls for it.

Like the black logo, the white one will be useful when you need to print/use a single colour on a dark background. Despite it being named white, this design will also use shades of grey for a more complex logo, and is better done by a professional than a filter on someone’s phone or social media account.

The quick answer to this is: yes if you are creating it for a large company with substantial financial resources, and no if you’re creating it for a small company, a medium company, or a start-up.

The pro’s: choosing a Pantone (e.g. what printers often call a spot colour) is a very easy way to achieve colour consistency across countries and variety of media. That’s the beauty of these set catalogue colours – they’re always the same whether you print them in Japan or in Peru. Another benefit is that you can order yourself a Pantone colour catalogue and see the colour in the physical realm when choosing it, instead of staring at a screen.

The con’s: not every printing house has the machines that print spot (Pantone) colours and you are limited to working with the larger print houses. It also costs more by default.

Part 3: What files should I receive from my designer when the work is complete?

Please pay a lot of attention to this next bit, because it will save you a ton of headache in the future:

You must get a vector version of your file with all gradients expanded!

Let’s talk about vector superiority.

In most instances graphic designers will send JPG, JPEG, PNG, or PDF files while designing your logo to get your opinion. And while this is absolutely fine at the preview stage, the problem with these files is that you can make them smaller but cannot make them bigger.

A vector file is a type of file that can be scaled infinitely until it reaches the size you need it in, and it will retain its quality – lines will still be smooth, colours will look fine, and the logo will generally fit perfectly on whatever you place it. In comparison, the files we mentioned before – JPG, JPEG, and PNG can only be used up to size you get them in. They contain already rendered images which have lost their “elasticity” so to speak.

Pdf is a different game – a PDF file can display both vector files and rendered images, and unless you know how to find out what it contains, don’t count on Pdf to be the fight file.

You’re looking to receive files that finish with either .AI or best .EPS. These are the files that will contain the vector format of your logo.

BUT! Don’t blindly trust what you are told – have a designer check the files and ensure that they are re-usable. History has seen plenty of times in which someone ads .jpg or .png file inside an .ai or .eps file. Theoretically your computer (if you’re on a Mac) will preview it, but it doesn’t mean that the file is in a vector format.

And lastly – what are expanded gradients?

When design is created it sometimes uses complex gradients to achieve a desired effect. Whilst those are often incredibly beautiful, they must be expanded. The simple explanation is that some gradients behave differently when enlarged or made smaller, and unless the designer can create a file that is scalable without changes occurring, then this is not a good design. Just as with the above point, you should have this checked by another designer before accepting the work as complete.

So, let’s summarise: what to know when ordering a logo design

When ordering a logo from a graphic designer (agency or freelancer), you should:

  • Avoid using a Pantone colour unless you’re creating a logo for an international company
  • Receive four types of logo: RGB, CMYK, Black and White
  • Receive your files in .ai or .eps format
  • Have a trusted designer test the scalability of the files and confirm that they are vector files and that their quality doesn’t change when scaled.

And now I’d love to hear from you!

Have you experienced any other issues when ordering a logo design and if yes, how did you overcome the problem? Drop me a comment or send a message!


Pantone: https://www.pantone.com/uk/en/

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