Getting what you want (and need) when designing your logo

posted by Lauren Rauseo on: 11/23/10 in category: design | tags: , ,

So you’ve decided to take the plunge and give your business its much-needed identity. A brand. A trademark. A symbol. An emblem. Call it what you want. You are committed to creating your company’s logo. You may know exactly what you’re looking for in a composition. Maybe you’ve even secured a designer to take on the challenge. But no matter what your level of certainty in this unpredictable process, it’s easy for something to slip through the cracks. Here are a few things to keep on your radar.

Color control

In the end, your logo designer should prepare your logo in several color variations, i.e. full-color, gray-scale, black only. But it’s a good idea for the original file to use PMS colors. PMS stands for Pantone Management System (, and is a system used by designers and printers to guarantee color control. Remember that when you view the logo files on your computer monitor, they are not accurate. As the client, you can ask the designer to have a look at his or her PMS swatch book so you are sure that you are happy with the exact colors being used. If you are not in the same area as your designer, you may want to pop into your local print shop and ask to take a peek at theirs. (The swatch books aren’t cheap, so unless you plan to become a designer yourself, you may not want to make that purchase.)

Once your PMS values are finalized, the designer will be able to create the full-color (or CMYK) and other versions based on that.

The files (duh)

This may seem obvious, but as a designer myself, I can’t tell you how many clients have come to me ready to design stationery, a brochure, or a website, and when I ask them to send me their logo, they tell me all they have is a business card or the sign that sits in the storefront. (For the record, I can’t do much with either of those.)

Unless your logo was created before computers were invented (and if that’s the case, it’s probably time for a refresh, huh?), then there is no reason for you, the client, not to have the digital files. Be sure that in the zipped folder or CD of files that the designer hands over to you at the end, there is, at the very least, an EPS file with the fonts outlined. If the fonts are not “outlined,” a future designer would have to purchase the same font in order to use the file; if the fonts are “outlined,” the words become flattened as part of the image.

While the EPS is the most important file type because it can serve as the master file and a future designer could essentially convert this file to whatever type is necessary for a future project, you, the client, will not be able to even open this file (unless you happen to have software for designers). So, also a critical element in your logo bag of tricks is the JPG file. You’ll be able to use a JPG for files you create yourself in Microsoft Office, including Word and PowerPoint. This is also the appropriate file type for home or office print jobs (as opposed to professionally printed projects; for that purpose, an EPS file is preferred).

Your rights

Your company’s name. Your selected color palette. Your signature on the contract. Your logo, right? Not necessarily. Always read the fine print in that contract you enter into with your designer. It’s common for freelancers and agencies to hang on to the rights of original artwork and project designs (this would stop you from using an illustration they designed for use in a booklet in some other printed piece without them receiving additional payment). But the buck stops with your logo. Logos should always be the property of the client at the end of the process, although this does not include earlier renditions of the design that do not resemble the end product. Make sure this is clearly stated in your contract before you sign.

About the Author

Lauren Rauseo is your one-stop shop for print design, websites, HTML email, and more. When she's not busy working on client projects, Lauren enjoys running, doing yoga, drinking a soy white mocha, and having a dance party in the living room with her kids. Shake it off, people, just shake it off.

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Getting what you want (and need) from your logo
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