Why Won’t the Image From My Website Work on My Large Sign?

By Angela Wolter

You have the perfect logo or image for your website. No doubt, you’re excited to use it for every promotional piece, big and small. And why wouldn’t you? Before Dot Marketing can help you with going big with a sign, though, we need one item from you. A vector file of your logo.

Wait. A what?
A vector file. Unfortunately, the logo you use for your website won’t work for a large sign.

Here’s why.
In the world of design, marketers use a multitude of file types. Each type is specialized for a certain purpose. Two particular types are vector files and raster files. Vector files are made up of paths and lines, whereas raster files are made up of pixels or dots.

Why does that make a difference?
Let’s start with vector files. A designer draws a square on the computer in a vector-based program like Adobe Illustrator. The designer can change the size of that square from 1″ to 100″ and the image will maintain its clarity.

Raster files don’t have that ability. With a raster file, the design program won’t be able to increase the number of pixels. Therefore, it will take the 1200 x 900 pixels of the original image and will space those dots equally to fill the 2400 x 1800-pixels space. The result is a grainy image.

So how can you tell if the logo images you have are vector files or raster files? Unless you have design software, you probably won’t be able to tell for sure, but here are some things to look for. EPS, AI and PDF file extensions are usually vector. Be mindful, though. A designer shouldn’t just take a raster file and resave it as an EPS file and think it’s done. A vector file is unique.

Here’s the bottom line.
Raster = photographs = great color detail, but expect the images to become blurry and grainy if you enlarge them.
Vector = fonts/logos = ability to enlarge without losing quality, but note that vector files can be limited in color and detail.

Either way, a vector file is what you’ll need anytime you want to take an image from small to huge.