When is an apple not an apple? When it’s the logo for the tech company Apple, of course. Although apples have their own long-standing identity, the global tech giant has successfully pinched this humble fruit and made it synonymous with innovation, progressive thinking and modern design—so much so that just the image of it in its logo form reminds us of the company before the food.
This power is the perfect example of how fundamental effective logo design is and how important it is to get it right. There are multiple places a company logo will be used—on company stationary such as business cards to the products themselves—but arguably, few uses are as important as our logos on social media.
When it comes to really marketing your brand or business, Instagram is proving to be one of the most important social media platforms for brand awareness and growth. Considering this, creating an Instagram logo that stands out can mean the difference between a strong following and consumers that wonder whether they have the right account or not.
Here are a few things to consider when building an Instagram logo.
Many branding and design experts see logos as the face of a company. In fact, your logo might be the first (and only) thing a customer will see, so it’s not only important to have one for your brand, it’s important to get it right in its representation of what you stand for as a company.
“The word logo is short for logotype—a graphic representation of a brand,” explains Essential Elements for Brand Identity by Kevin Budelmann, Yang Kim and Curt Wozniak.
“Essentially, a logo is a picture that represents the collection of experiences that forms a perception in the mind of those who encounter an organisation.”
A logo is an important touch point between your brand and your customer; a quick, succinct representation of who you are and not only what your brand offers but also the way you provide your services. It’s a visual shorthand for everything from your values to your service offerings and it’s an easy way to quickly represent who you are.
After carefully considering your brand identity, start looking around for the logos you notice, or ones you know well. You’ll soon realize just how important a logo is to you as the customer. Some are so ingrained in our consciousness, there’s little room for us to remove them from the brand they represent - which is the first sign of a great logo. Ask yourself a few questions about the logos you notice: What makes them memorable to you? Is it their simplicity or their intricacy? Is it the combination of words and a logo? Is it uniqueness or its recognizability that keeps them top of mind?
“A great logo works on several levels,” writes Matthew Healy, author of Logo: 300+ International Logos Deconstructed. “On the most basic level, the logo needs to incorporate, or refer to, the brand’s name. On the next level, it may impart the offering behind the brand - the product or service. On a still higher level, the logo needs to advance the broader strategic goals of the organisation to a specific audience. Finally, the logo ought to convey an implicit sense of the values, aspirations, and promises the brand lets its consumers embrace.”
Feeling overwhelmed with choices that are out there and don’t know where to begin? Don’t worry. Although there are hundreds of thousands of logos, most fall into a few key design categories and knowing what is what should help you narrow your scope when it comes to finding the right one for your brand and company.
Here are some examples of logo types that could suit your business:
You’ll often find a seal, crest or badge in an emblem logo and it’s a popular form used by universities and schools. That doesn’t mean successful consumer brands can’t incorporate this design, however - brands such as Warner Bros., Alfa Romeo, Harley Davidson and Starbucks have successfully incorporated this technique into their logo. When you’re building a logo for Instagram however, the emblem might not be the way to go - it’s typically heavy in detail and is hard to replicate on a smaller scale. If you’re keen on it, this about how you can rectify this and always test the final product on your Instagram homepage (on mobile, too).
Mascots aren’t just confined to sports games. A mascot is the embodiment of brand identity - a logo within a logo, if you will. They communicate values about the brand without having to actually say a thing; they can be great when your brand wants to embody a sense of fun or joy (think the Pringles logo), or, in some cases, a sense of history and dependability, including in the case of KFC or Quakers oats. In some cases, it’s simply a way of effectively imprinting the brand on the mind of a customer memorably- the Michelin man is a great example of this.
In the context of Instagram, a mascot offers a similar challenge that the emblem logo - it often involves a lot of detailed design, some of which can be lost when scaled down to a small size.
There’s a sense of power in a monogram logo. We often associate them with powerful and prominent companies, including Chanel, Gucci, HBO, H&M and IBM and it seems to traverse industries - companies across technology, high fashion and media harness the power of this simple yet effective logo. A monogram logo often depends on a well-known brand name to leverage its power - we know the back-to-back ‘c’ of Chanel because we know Chanel. That doesn’t mean you can’t use it in your social media - it’s very visually effective, especially on a small scale - but it’s worth remembering if your brand is new, there might be a little more explanation needed on what you are and what you do.
Although similar to a monogram in its simplicity, a wordmark logo includes the entire name of a brand, presented in an eye-catching format. Google, Disney, Facebook, Coca-Cola, eBay, Pinterest and Netflix all have this in common but there’s a few reasons these work in this logo format - the brand names are relatively short. For your Instagram page, a wordmark logo is a tricky choice, depending on the length of your brand name. For eBay, for example, easily fits within the small circpanel but Google, has created an alternative for their social media that’s a little easier to manage, size-wise.
Want to really make your mark with your logo? Try an abstract mark. Successful brands such as Nike, Mastercard and Toyota have created such power with their accompanying logos, they stand by themselves as a representative of their brands without any additional words necessary. Although it’s a little bit more of a risk to create an abstract logo, it can give you the opportunity to really put your stamp on the market, stand out from your competition and channel your brand identity into a small, powerful picture.
Some of the most recognisable logos fall under this category: Apple, McDonalds and Penguin Books have distinctive, graphic-based logos that communicate the brand in a single glimpse. Although this logo choice is particularly popular due to its striking nature, it puts a lot of pressure on its conception - when your logo has nowhere to hide, there’s an increased pressure on getting it right because there’s little room to move in a simple picture to distill your brand identity.
It’s a great option for Instagram, however - most are freely able to fit into smaller or larger uses because of their graphically simplistic nature.
The clue is in the name. This type is a clever combination of both a picture and the name of a brand, to create a powerful, fusion of recognition among consumers. Take Amazon, Adidas, Burger King and Doritos as examples of this logo in action. This is a bit of a double whammy when it comes to brand recognition - you have both the image and name to communicate brand identity, increasing its power. Additionally, it’s a good strategy for future-proofing your business growth, allowing you the possibility of just relying on the logo when you become well known, or, helpfully, when social media channels such as Instagram might not be suitable for the length of your brand name.
Things to consider when combining your logo and Instagram
Social media is an inescapably important component of your business and therefore, the extension of your brand identity throughout your channels is paramount. As a major touch point between consumers, clients and your company, you can’t afford to neglect it as a representative of your brand and that’s why you need to carefully consider how your logo will factor in your feed.
A few things it’s worth remembering when you’re looking into a logo for your Instagram page is: how eye-catching is the colour scheme for my profile? Does it sit in the centre of the circle? Do I want it to? Are some of the intricacies of the image lost in the condensed version of my logo in my profile?
If you’re still feeling a little spoilt for choice, have a look at current logo trends to get you inspired as to how to best represent your brand.
Once you have your logo sorted, don’t forget to upload it to your Instagram page. The easiest way to do this is to login into your account, click the icon in the bottom right hand corner, which brings up your profile page. At the top, there’s a loong button entitled “edit profile” - click here, followed by clicking on “change profile photo” under the circular avatar. Add your logo from your smartphone photo library and ensure the size is a minimum of 180x180 pixels. Adjust your logo to fit the specifications.
Remember that due to the small size of the profile picture, if your logo has a pictorial representation that would suit the specifications better, stick to that.
Each social media platform has its own specifications and to ensure consistency, it’s important to check the specifications for each before uploading your image.
For Facebook, the profile picture displays as 170x170 pixels on desktops, 128x128 pixels on smartphones and 36x36 on feature phones. The cover photo displays at 820 pixels wide by 312 pixels tall on desktops and 640 pixels wide by 360 pixels tall on smartphones, with images requiring a minimum size of 400 pixels wide and 150 pixels tall. See further details here.
Twitter requires a header photo of 1500x500 pixels, with a profile photo of a recommended 400x400 pixels.
LinkedIn has a list of specifications on their website that’s helpful to consider when uploading relevant logos to your page.