HOW DO I USE MY LOGO?
Being consistent and accurate with your visual identity
When you receive the files for your logo, you’re understandably going to be pretty excited to use them. There are so many places you could use your logo, but you might not completely understand how to use it, or even what file types you need to use in certain applications.
If there’s one thing I want you to remember from this posts, it’s that for you to build brand recognition, you need to be consistent.
The more consistent you are at using your logo, the more people are going to remember it and recognize it.
You also need to be consistent with the rest of your brand as well.
Your visual identity, for example isn’t just your logo. It includes the colors you use, the fonts you use, the way your logo appears in certain applications, just to name some examples. Being consistent in all of these areas is going to help you build branding recognition with your audience.
Have a Style Guide
To create branding recognition, you need a style guide – a set of rules for you and other people who use your logo to adhere to to ensure your logo is consistent every time it’s used.
This is also a reason I create one for each of my clients – it tells you how to use the logo and provides restrictions so that the logo is used consistently.
A style guide can include instructions for various parts of your branding such as:
- correct logo use
- incorrect logo use
- required clear space around the logo
- application examples
- copywriting guides
As every company is different, there may be more or less restrictions depending on how much guidance you need. If you take a peak at the NASA style guide, this thing is actually a book you can buy (that’s a lot of guidance)!
Or, maybe you just need something simple enough to explain how to use the logo correctly or how your website should look.
Obviously, each application of your logo is going to be slightly different and provide different challenges. Just realize that although the application is different, you should still strive to make the appearance of the logo as consistent as possible.
As easy as you might believe it would be to stay consistent across all media, it is actually extremely difficult. Just the difference in digital and print alone can mean the difference of how the colors appear. Be sure to take advantage of the proofing process to make sure your logo appears correctly before you approve to have that batch of t-shirts printed or web banner uploaded.
There’s a trick to being consistent in print and most of it is in regards to color. Make use of spot colors like the Pantone Color System. Spot colors are a universal color system that allows the colors of your logo to be consistent every time it is printed. When you supply the spot color(s) for your logo, the printer should know exactly how to replicate that color.
Even though CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and blacK) gives the impression that it should be consistent because it’s based on specific percentages of the four colors, the ink used in an offset printer is not going match the toner from your office printer and thus create problems with the consistency of your colors.
As far as color is concerned, colors typically are much easier to render on screen, which makes it easier to be consistent in the design process. But the fact that everyone is viewing your logo on different screens means that the logo isn’t always going to appear correctly color or otherwise.
Obviously there isn’t much you can do about the they way things are rendered on other people’s screens, so you can’t worry about it too much. Just do your best to make it correct on most platforms, and let it go.
If you were shipped a bunch of file types for your logo, there are most likely at least two versions that are really important to understand: raster and vector.
Raster images are images made up of tiny colored squares called pixels. You have probably heard of JPEG images since they are used across for most digital applications and are typically the file type your camera (or smartphone) creates when you take a picture.
The biggest problem these this image type has, however, is since it is made up of tiny colored squares, if you make the image larger, the larger those squares become. So when you make the image larger than its native size, it results in a pixelated appearance where you will notice these colored squares and the edges that were once smooth, have become jagged.
Of course there’s a solution for that and that’s where vector images come into play.
Vector images, instead of being made up of tiny squares, are created by anchor points and bezier curves. What this means is the computer uses math to create the shapes you see instead of colored squares. This also means that no matter how big or how small you resize the logo, the computer can use math to render the logo without losing any quality of the image.
Which file do I use?
Depending on the application, you’ll need to use the right file type. If you’re going to include the logo in your email signature, you’ll need to use a jpeg or other raster format because more computers, smartphones, and tablets know how to render that file type.
If you’re going to have a t-shirts made, then the printer will most likely request the vector image so she can create the screens for printing and can resize it without the image getting pixelated.
Most likely, the person using your logo will ask you for the specific file type, but if they don’t, you can always ask them what kind they need.
Brand the World Consistently
It’s exciting to use your logo and start putting your brand on things, but it’s imperative to understand that maintaining a consistency is what will help create brand recognition and make you memorable to your audience.
Do you have a style guide for your visual identity or need help understanding what file to use in a certain application? Let me know in the form below.