How to Choose a Great Profile Picture

Last updated January 17, 2013

With the introduction of Timeline, Facebook changed the display of profile picture for both Facebook users and pages. Prior to Timeline, profile pictures were of variable height, and often the best strategy was to use a narrow and tall image to maximize the use of screen space. Now, all profile pictures on Facebook are displayed as a square, whether in the News Feed or on the Page itself. Your Page’s profile picture is overlaid on the bottom left corner of your Facebook page, and just to the left of your Page’s name and number of “likes”, and displayed at 180 x 180 pixels.

Both the design and positioning of the profile picture allows for some creativity, but the degree to which you use either requires some strategy and a consideration of your available resources. Many creative pages and profiles have been designed that incorporate the profile into the cover photo, using strong knowledge of photoshop and the exact position of the the thumbnail on the page to make the image in the the profile picture integrate with the cover photo. Fanta, which makes popular soft drinks, designed a thumbnail of their logo that not only allows users to easily recognized the brand throughout their Facebook experience, but also seamlessly integrates into the design of the cover photo on their Page.

However, it’s important to consider that the thumbnail is the central point of recognition for your brand throughout a user’s Facebook experience. While your thumbnail is notably prominent at the top of your Facebook page, your thumbnail helps users quickly recognize your brand in their News Feed. A critical component of branding is a consistent and an easily recognizable logo.

This does not mean that brands can’t easily integrate their logo with a cover photo. Like Fanta, Ford Motor Company also created a thumbnail that simply captured their logo for brand awareness across Facebook, yet when overlaid on their cover photo, its thumbnail also seamlessly integrates with the Page design.

However, Many successful Facebook pages, including the New York Times and Macy’s, have adopted a thumbnail with just their logo, and opted to not adapt the design to integrate with their cover photo.

It’s important to keep in mind that before Fanta and Ford designed its thumbnail to integrate with their cover photos, both companies considered not just the design of their cover photo, but their cover photo strategy and overall Facebook Page mission. When considering to integrate the design of your thumbnail with the creation of your cover photo, it may be too time-consuming and complex than you have the resources for, so it’s also reasonable to simply use your brand’s recognizable logo.

The benefit to simply using your logo not only saves time and resources when redesigning a cover photo, but also helps maintain brand recognition should you need to update your thumbnail for a redesign. However you design your thumbnail, including a consistent logo will help Facebook users continue to easily recognize you throughout their ongoing Facebook experience.

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