For such tiny assets, logos sure play a significant role in your social presence as a brand. People see your logo wherever they engage with your business. On TV and computer screens. Store merchandise. Signs and billboards. Digital apps. T-shirts. Print ads.
Blurry logo images do nothing for your brand, but they can undoubtedly tarnish it. Low-quality visuals tell your customers one thing. You don’t care about building a professional reputation for your business.
When you design a logo, it has to look crisp and professional everywhere you use it. But it’s not practical to just create one image file and display it on all your media channels. Depending on the file type, your logo can lose resolution as you resize it. Scaling up or down will cause fuzzy, unrefined edges and poorly blended color.
So, what can you do to avoid these quality issues? Save your image in multiple file formats, using separate versions for everyday projects and graphics editing. That way, you can easily choose the best logo size for different applications.
Common File Formats for Logo Design
To get your logo graphics just right, you have to understand which file formats are prone to resolution issues. The two most common image types are raster and vector graphics.
- Raster Graphics: Raster graphics are made up of tiny dots (or pixels) mapped on a grid. Each colored dot occupies one grid square, and together they form a detailed image. The resolution depends on the number of pixels per inch. A higher resolution equals a bigger image file, and you can only make the file smaller by deleting some of the refined detail.
Raster graphics are bound to their dimensions. The more you resize them, the more you damage the image resolution. JPG, PNG, and GIF are raster file formats, and they’re frequently used for online applications.
- Vector Graphics: Vectors are made up of a complex framework of points, lines, and curves, which are translated into a mathematical equation. Have you ever seen a toothpick sculpture? The straight and curved toothpicks are much like vector paths. The points where they meet are vector nodes. Together these paths and nodes form detailed geometric shapes, and each tiny point or line is assigned a color value.
Because vectors are formulaic, the relative positions of the points and paths never change. That means you can rescale vectors as much as you want without losing resolution. AI, EPS, SVG, and vectorized PDF files all fall into this category. Vector formats are perfect for editing since you can make changes while maintaining the high quality of the original design.
Choosing a Logo Size for Print and Online Media
Raster graphics are the universal standard for online media. Website logos are used at smaller sizes and measured in pixels (px). The file formatting is more straightforward than a vector, so pixels are easy to render on a variety of digital software and websites.
If you size your logo to tightly fit the specifications for each website, you won’t have to worry about pixelation. In most cases, you should use a PNG file with a transparent background. That way, you can place your logo over other page elements. Only the visible parts of your design will show up over the website background.
Every graphic has unique dimensions, so the ideal logo size will differ from one brandmark to the next. While social media sites have recommended sizing, your website logo size depends on the homepage layout.
Think about where you plan to place the logo on your website, such as the header. Will your logo be displayed in the top left corner? In the top center of the page? Above the navigation bar? How much vertical and horizontal space do you have in your header.
Keep in mind, the website logo size will affect the dimensions of surrounding elements in your template. You will most likely have to do a few trial runs to find a size that works. Here are a few tips.
- Start with the smallest PNG logo size you have available. It will likely be anywhere from 100px to 1200px high. A smaller file loads more easily on your site, so don’t go bigger than you need to.
- Upload the logo to your website, and check to see how legible it is. Are the details of the design visible? Is there any distortion in the text? People with different vision capabilities will be looking at your website. Make sure the logo is large enough for the average person to see.
- Is the image too big or small for the header? Resize the PNG file for now, rather than editing the vector right away. Most raster graphics programs allow you to resize by pixels. You can change one dimension — in this case, height — and still maintain the correct proportions. Adjust the height by small amounts at a time, until the image fits in the header the way you want it to.
- Once you have your ideal logo size in mind, rescale the vector and save a raster version for your website. The final version will have the high resolution and color quality of the original while perfectly tailored to your website header.
Social media sites change their logo sizing guidelines on a regular basis, so always look for the most up-to-date information. Here are a few familiar sites where you can use your logo to promote your business.
- Facebook: Profile photos on Facebook business pages are displayed at 170 x 170px on computer screens and 128 x 128px on smartphones. Since the image appears cropped in feeds and ads, make sure your logo design is centered.
- Twitter: A Twitter profile photo displays at 400 x 400px and is also cropped in a circle. If your logo is wide, you may need to create a version that only contains a logomark or monogram.
- YouTube: YouTube uses circle-cropped channel icons that display at 98 x 98px. The site recommends using an image size of 800 x 800px.
- Instagram: Instagram profile photos are circle-cropped and display at 110 x 110px. Most people use Instagram on a phone, so simplifying your logo will make it more legible.
When you buy promotional products, you’re usually working with professional printers who will tweak the logo size to get it right. Print media uses a different color system than digital media and a much larger print dimensions.
In most cases, printers will quote your options in inches. Let’s say you want company shirts printed. You might have a maximum printing area of 14 inches wide for a sizeable centered design on a T-shirt or 2 to 3 inches wide for a small logo on a polo shirt.
Printing businesses rely on vectors to scale logo designs to any size. You can make this process easier by providing the vector files upfront. But if you don’t have them or you’re using a self-service logo maker online, just use the largest raster file you have. Professional printers can convert raster graphics to vector and still achieve a high-quality image.
The ideal logo size depends on your design and where you plan to use it. The most important thing is to have a consistent, professional look that reminds people of your business. If you’re investing time and money into a great logo design, don’t ruin your hard work with low-quality graphics.