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Picking a Brand Profile Pic: Logo or Headshot?

Sylvia Wong

Director of Digital Marketing


Mar. 12, 2018

How much have thought have you put into choosing a brand profile pic for your business? Did you even hesitate before choosing your logo or your headshot? Or do you still question whether you’ve made the best choice for your brand? There are a few best practices you may want to consider to make sure you’re making the best first impression with your online “face”.

Consider the display options

What channels are you using? Is it a profile pic for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn? Most people only consider what it will look like in ONE situation, on your profile. And on most Social Media Image Sizes Guides they simply tell you the maximum size and ratios that should be uploaded. There’s a BIG difference in upload size vs. display size of profile pics.

But did you know that on most social media sites, after hitting “follow”, it’s rare that users end up back on your profile? The most frequent place followers will see your avatar is in their newsfeeds when you post content OR when you make comments. So your profile pic is way more important than even your cover image or other customizations on your profile.

Social Media Profile Pic Display Sizes

Social Media Brand Profile Pic Display SizesNearly 80% of social media use is done on mobile devices! So if you use an active engagement strategy to interact with your followers, the most common place your profile will be seen would be the app feed activity! Man, that’s small!

Choosing a Logo or Headshot?

Now that you know the display sizes, which should you choose for your brand profile pic? A good rule of thumb is choosing a headshot if you have under 5 employees.

Best Practices for a Headshot Profile Pic

A strong “brand” does not just mean having a professional logo. In fact, in the digital age, as more people are sensitive to authenticity, it makes a lot more sense to be transparent and show who you are. Showing your face can build a more personal connection that is more trustworthy. As a small business or an entrepreneur, connecting with your audience is essential for having your following treat you like a human and not like a corporation.

Imagine if there are lots of other businesses that sell the same products or services and have a similar look and feel. If one of you uses a logo (and you always see it at 10×10 so it may not even be legible) and the other uses their face, who will I remember when I am on the market to shop? Definitely putting the face to the name is what keeps someone top of mind!

  • Choose a clear headshot, ideally taken by a professional or even by a friend. A selfie works too if you can’t see the obvious selfie arms or stick.
  • Look directly at the camera. Don’t look away and don’t obstruct your eyes with sunglasses or hats. Making eye contact is essential in effective communication and it shouldn’t be any different for the online representation of you.
  • Don’t use a wedding photo or group photo. It’s obvious when you crop out others and the wedding dress or tux can be a little out of place for most industries.
  • Don’t use a face filter. Yeah, the puppy filter contours your face but it’s not professional and obstructs your actual features. People won’t recognize you when you’re at networking events!
  • Use your brand colours. You’ve got a chance to reinforce the visuals of your brand. Wear your colours or find a backdrop that is one of your colours.
  • Consider Psychological factors. From a study from Psychological Science, and if you reaaaally want to get into it, there are tons of specifics you can get into for looking more approachable. Like making sure to show your teeth, accentuating your jawline, smizing and more.

Best Practices for a Logo Profile Pic

As a bigger company, choosing a profile pic that is your logo makes the most sense. Since there may be more employees, a dedicated person (or more) may be posting to social accounts. It’s best to get users familiar with interacting with you as a corporate entity and keeping a certain level of professionalism.

  • Format to a square. Most social sites format your profile pics to a square, so make sure your logo is at the right ratio. If your wordmark is long, imagine how illegible it may be at under 30×30 pixels. If you have one, use your monogram instead.
  • Invert your colours. If you have a logo in colour on a white background, consider flipping that so that your brand colour is the background and the logo is in white. Most social channels are designed on white and your logo can easily disappear into that.
  • Be bold. Again some uses of a profile photo are as small as 10×10 pixels, that’s TINY! Make sure your logo is designed to be seen at any size. Fine scripts and intricate details will get lost and users won’t recognize your logo as anything.
  • Share photos of your founder and staff. Since your profile pic is your logo, keep it human and occasionally share photos of your staff throughout your social feeds.

Choosing a profile pic doesn’t have to be a stressful process. Just put a little bit more thought into how the “face” of your brand will appear in regular interactions. You could be setting yourself up to be a more memorable brand with every interaction.

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