Photos and Words of Patrick Calder

I live in Washington, DC with 1 cat named Pixel, 6 cameras, 3 computers, 158 movies, 286 books, and 1 bowling pin. I own the Design Foundry and pretend to be a graphic designer by day.

Please keep in mind that this post is more than 3 years old. Opinions change. Tastes change. Everything changes. I may still agree with or like this, or I may not. But everything is kept up here for archival purposes.

How to get a good copy of a logo / February 17, 2007

There are a few tricks to getting a good logo. In this case, when I say “good”, I am strictly referring to the technical nature of the digital artwork, and not the artistic merit nor communication capabilities of it. The basic traits of a good logo file are:

  • vector format
  • spot colored
  • all type converted to outlines

Ask for it

First, tell your client you need the logo. Yes, they probably sent you a GIF off their website that wouldn’t even look good to Helen Keller. But often they just send you the first thing they can find, because they don’t know any better. So the first option should always be to simply tell them the specifications of good art, and ask them if they can find it in their own company or files.
And occasionally when the logo is from someone other than your direct client, (a sponsor, for example), you can always find their communications department and call them. Explain to them about your project, and ask if they can provide the artwork you need.

Download it

Unfortunately, fewer and fewer companies even keep good copies of their identity package around. But if you’re lucky, and the client is fairly well known or large, you can download their logo. First, check the “About Us” section of their website for a page made just for this purpose. Bigger companies and organizations often have their whole identity standards manual online.
If that doesn’t work, check out Brands of the World, (formerly logos.nina.ru). It is a unaffiliated archive online for vector-format logos from anywhere. Their searching and browsing interface is pretty weak, but their archive is very extensive. Even when you can’t find the exact logo you’re looking for, you can often find a variation on it.

Cheat

Many companies are ignorant of what they actually have in the way of artwork. Or their “regular designers” simply don’t share their files with the client. So a good copy exists, of course, and is being used. They just don’t know it. But thankfully, everyone is obsessed with the internet, now, without really knowing why. So every major document and announcement is posted to a company’s website, and most often in PDF format. Download a PDF of their annual report or similar document, and you can often open the file in Illustrator and grab a perfect copy of their logo.
Don’t know where to find the PDF on their huge corporate website? The easiest solution is to use Google. You go to the “advanced search” section of google, and you can tell it to show you all the PDF files available under any given domain name. It’s amazing what will turn up.

Suck it up

If their logo is bad enough that you really don’t think it should be printed, tell them. Tell them if it can’t be found, it needs to be recreated. And if you really don’t feel up to it, hire me. 🙂 And once you do have a good copy of the logo, do yourself a favor, and as I suggested in my last post, start a logo archive of your own.

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