We established a universality of logarithmic loss over a finite alphabet as a distortion criterion in fixed-length lossy compression. For any fixed-length lossy-compression problem under an arbitrary distortion criterion, we show that there is an equivalent lossy-compression problem under logarithmic loss. The equivalence is in the strong sense that we show that finding good schemes in corresponding lossy compression under logarithmic loss is essentially equivalent to finding good schemes in the original problem. This equivalence relation also provides an algebraic structure in the reconstruction alphabet, which allows us to use known techniques in the clustering literature. Furthermore, our result naturally suggests a new clustering algorithm in the categorical data-clustering problem.