Why does my “nice” logo seem to look terrible depending on where it is used in digital media?

First of all – don’t feel like you are alone. Clicking around on websites, looking at social media channels, downloading PDFs of literature and looking at email signatures – one thing has become very clear – logos everywhere need help and attention!
From simple legibility issues at the size or format where they appear to “muddled” quality issues with how they were saved to limitations with how they were originally designed – logos need some basic guidelines in order to look their best.
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If you logo is fuzzy or otherwise not looking it’s best in digital formats – here are some common scenarios along with some suggested fixes.
  1. Fuzzy Logo in website header. To fix this issue you may need to re-save the logo at a higher resolution. The same logo file that looked great on yesterday’s standard resolution displays will look fuzzy on today’s high resolution retina displays. Always save the logo from the original artwork file and never simply scale the existing artwork to a larger size. Vector line art format is best choice for outputting your logo artwork as it is not resolution/raster dependent and can be exported at whatever size needed and still look crisp. If SVG (scalable vector graphics) is an option on your website, this will also take care of the quality issue as SVG is not a raster dependent format and will look great at any size. For most websites 800px is a good rule of thumb for a raster based logo file in a header.
  2. Splotchy logo graphic. If your logo doesn’t look clean and has random color pixels around the edges between color breaks – it was likely caused by the logo being saved to JPEG format with too much compression. To remedy this, resave the logo from the original artwork as a PNG file (PNG 24 if saving with transparency) – which is a lossless format and won’t cause the random color pixelation that causes the logo to look “splotchy” or dirty.
  3. Logo color looks dull. If your logo looks dull in digital formats, the likely culprit is that the logo was saved from a version that was prepared for print reproduction in CMYK color mode. Saving this format back to RGB color mode for display in digital media will not recapture the lost color information from when it was converted to CMYK. The same color saved to CMYK will look duller on screen as the screen is trying to approximate how that color will look on printed materials. The fix is to go back to the original logo artwork file and make sure he color conversions match any RGB values specified in your brand standards as color equivalents. If no brand standards exist and the original logo artwork is only in Pantone (PMS) spot color format, then export it from this to RGB color as it will be a much closer color representation than a logo that was exported or converted to CMYK.
  4. Typography in logo isn’t legible. This issue may be due to the original design. If the typeface chosen uses delicate serifs (horizontal points on the letter forms) or has a high degree of variation in line weights within the letter form – it can detract from legibility in digital media. Other contributors to legibility problems include fonts that have a small “x” height (the height of a lowercase “x”) or letterspacing that is too tight – causing letter forms to merge at smaller sizes or in lower resolution settings. To fix these issues will likely require redesigning the logo (or displaying it larger) to use a typeface that is more legible in modern digital formats. Modern design trends have picked up on this issue as mono weight, sans serif typefaces with tall x-heights seem to be the most popular choices online for legibilty. Many Google Fonts are designed with these concepts in mind.
I hope you have found this topic helpful. If you have a project where you need creative assistance – for print or web – please contact Ecra to see how we might be able to help!

About Ecra

Ecra was started in 1999 as a creative resource for small to mid size clients seeking an alternative to large agencies. Our focus is on listening to our clients while delivering solutions that make wise use of technology and resources. We pride ourselves on delivering high value while drawing upon our experience across many industries including agriculture, finance, manufacturing, professional services, education, real estate, health care and more. We are proud to say that many of our earliest clients still rely on Ecra to help them with their marketing and technology initiatives – give us a call to discuss your next project – we’d love to meet you and explore how Ecra can be of assistance to you in the near future!

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