Why improperly formatted logos can cause all sorts of headaches
While we obviously prefer to work on projects from scratch, we also work with quite a few production houses, as well as one-one-one with clients who have had their logo created somewhere else. No big deal. Happens all the time when when animating logos & creating branded assets. Most of the time there’s no issue with using outside material but once in a while, we’re amazed at what passes off for file preparation these days. Especially from design companies that market themselves as professionals. Here’s one such example that we stumbled over, while working on an animation for a client (won’t say) who’d had their logo designed by some logo company they’d found on the internet (won’t tell you that either.) When we took receipt of the vector based .eps files, we were floored at how badly they had been set up.
Alas – and as is often the case – the client was completely unaware of the technical monstrosity that lay under their logo’s surface. As they had only viewed the pixel based bitmap version, and couldn’t view the wireframe vector version, the logo looked hunky dory to them. The image above illustrates what they saw on the logo company’s website, and how it looked to them when they took final delivery of their design assets (I’ve close-cropped the design to save anyone the embarrassment.) Trouble is, when we’re importing the artwork into Illustrator (or anything else for that matter) we’re going to use the vector version. That ain’t so pretty. Here’s what the logo looks like when we toggle off preview mode in Illustrator. Yikes! All these intersecting lines, maniacal miter corners and overlaps just to create an outline around a font? Stupidly nasty, nasty stuff. Amateur hour quite frankly.
Makes us wonder if some of these shake-and-bake logo companies even prep files before shipping digital to their unsuspecting clients. This one certainly didn’t get any attention at all. Nit picking? Hardly. This artwork will cause nothing but headaches when it comes to any type of digital output, and one can only imagine what would happen if this file ever became acquainted with a vinyl plotter knife blade. Bad formats always equate into unnecessary time. That always translates into unnecessary expense. Not quite what one expects when paying for professional design services.
For what it’s worth, this is what the file should look like once all the vectors have been cleaned up and trimmed. This file is smaller in size, easier to edit and an be imported into any digital program without worry or hassles. Here’s the thing. While the pathfinder function in Illustrator is fantastic and all for outlines, someone’s gotta get in and clean up the auto-acked vectors once it’s finished doing its thing (same thing goes for tracing images into logos via automated software.)
While we’re griping about broken file formats (you know we were) some designers don’t close their vector shapes and polygons. I know one online logo design company that doesn’t. With a ton of blends, transparencies and gradient fills, the logo artwork we’re looking at was overly complicated to begin with. These incomplete vector objects (circled) serve only to make matters worse. Much, much worse. There are some very real, very costly reasons why broken file formats like this are a headache too. Took us a couple of hours to re-do the artwork before we were able to import it into anything for composition and animation. That works out to billable hours that need to be tacked on to the overall cost of a simple animation. You have to pity clients who take delivery of these obscenely bad file setups, without any idea of the headaches, expense and reproduction hell they’re going to run into when it comes to using their spiffy new logo. It’s also one of the reasons that clients need to work with professionals, rather than someone who’s downloaded a hacked version of Illustrator and selling logo design services at $20 a pop or submitting them to logo design contest sites. This client saved a couple of bucks on the front end, but doled out much, more than that when it came to turning their logo into a usable form.
The design version of “penny wise, pound foolish.”