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Logo Design Guidelines

LOGO SPECIFICATIONS SYNOPSIS and RATIONALE

Over many years of dealing with business startups, requiring business cards, letterhead, signage, and many years of building websites for commercial businesses, for non-profits, for churches, and for individuals’ personal sites, I have found one of the most consistent needs to be a LOGO, or a concise visual identity for that entity.

Thousands of people worldwide will actually design logos, and some of them are outstanding. This page is not about logo design. It is about logo design specifications.

Why You Need Logo Specifications

Most logo designers do a great job of giving you your logo in its original size and shape, and they frequently furnish you with many file types as well – JPG, PNG, TIFF, AI, PSD, and so on.

But they frequently only provide your logo in one shape. By this, I mean one set of relative width and height dimensions. All the file types they give you have the same shape.

Unfortunately, you truly need your logo to be in several different shapes. You will need to put your logo on your business cards, on your letterhead, on your website’s pages in many locations, on your social media sites, and even up on the browser tab as a favicon. Each of these needs requires the logo to be in a different shape.

This page is provided to give you a starting point for a set of LOGO SPECIFICATIONS you can furnish to your logo designer, so when you get the finished product from the designer, it will fill all of your entity’s visual identification needs.

Logo Specifications:

DEFINITIONS:

a.    Aspect Ratio: This means the ratio of the width to the height of the logo. A 1:1 aspect ratio is perfectly square or circular. A 12:1 aspect ratio means it is twelve times as wide as it is high. Measurements of an image are always given with the width measurement first and the height measurement second. A picture that is 640x480 is 640 units wide by 480 units tall.

b.    Pixels vs Points/Inches: This is essentially computer display vs. print measurements. Pixels are “picture elements” and are used to define images displayed on a computer. All other units of measurements, points, inches, picas, etc. are used to define images displayed in print. The two are NOT interrelated at all, except for DPI (dots per inch) of a computer display and of the print media. An image that is 1280x720 can fill up an entire large computer screen, but if printed by a 2400dpi laser printer might be less than an inch wide by a quarter inch high. Both computer screens and print media can expand the display of an image to far beyond its original measurements, but the more it is expanded, the lower the quality of the image. A 160x120 image displayed full screen on a large monitor will be pixelated and blurry, perhaps indistinguishable. It is always better to produce an image at higher resolution than you need, and reduce it to the size needed.

All image units in the following recommendations are in pixels, because it is much easier to convert pixels to any other units than the other way around.

LOGO VERSIONS:

  1.  The Original Logo: The original logo can be designed at pretty much any aspect ratio desired, perhaps guided by its intended primary use. Original logos should be at least 2400 pixels along their longer dimension. Larger is better.
  2.  The Landscape Logo: The landscape logo is used both for letterhead and for website page banners, on your YouTube channel, and can also be used for social media banners if desired. The landscape logo should be at least 2400 x 400 to 800 pixels.
  3.  The Square Logo: This version of the logo should be in the 1:1 aspect ratio. It can be a true square, with content in each of the corners, but the designer should keep corner content inconsequential, because several online uses of this logo will crop the logo to rounded corners, or even a circular version, so any corner content could be lost. The square logo should be a minimum of 500x500 pixels.
  4.  The Icon Logo: There are several instances in which you will need to use your logo as an ICON, so you will need a version of the square logo that renders well at 32x32 pixels. By “renders well” we mean if this is used as a favicon – the small image that appears beside the website name on a browser tab – the user can glance at the browser tab and get an immediate visual connection to whatever the logo represents. The Icon Logo does not need to be identical to the other versions of the logo, but it should be similar enough to be recognizable.
  5.  Logo FORMATS: The logo should be provided in the following formats:
    1.  JPG – compressed image format, easiest to use on websites.
    2.  PNG – with transparent background. This is in the event we need to use it over an image, gradient, or other type background.
    3.  TIF or TIFF – uncompressed image.
    4.  PDF – (optional) portable document format version.
    5.  Source Code – this is up to the agreement between the logo designer and the contracting party. Including the PSD or AI or XAR or other source code is always a good idea.

I hope these Logo Design Specification Guidelines help anyone who needs a logo tell their designer what should be included in the final deliverable logo, and will save you the hassle and heartburn of having to go back to your designer and ask them to redo the logo in different shapes.