Maintaining a consistent visual style is standard in brand marketing, so why do so many brands fail to follow those same guidelines on their social media pages?

Having a strong social presence is essential in almost all industries and failing to carry over your brand standards to social – and, therefore, not taking advantage of your already established brand recognition – could be costly when you consider the competition for customer eyes. It is no longer optional to make sure your social profile is up to snuff if you expect to build a following.

Profile Icons: The Need to Be Clean

Profile pictures need to have a clean and immediately recognizable image to represent your brand across the entire platform, from timeline posts to customer service replies. This holds true for any platform you want to have a presence on, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, etc. Whole Foods and Arby’s, two of the more active brands on Twitter, incorporate their name as a primary part of their logo and are therefore able to use their entire logo for their icon. Other brands, such as Starbucks and McDonald’s, opt to use only their brands’ iconic visuals – the mermaid and the golden arches, respectively – in place of their name.

Subtle or Straightforward: Using Your Head(er)

For larger-scale images used in header photos, cover photos and other banner-like images, you have design options.

You can opt for a more minimalistic approach and use simple but high-resolution imagery that’s relevant to your brand. Starbucks has a straightforward but effective banner image: two people holding cups of coffee in front of a warm and inviting backdrop. Other brands use their header images in more detailed, informative ways.

Headers can be used as a display-area for the company motto or to inform followers and casual browsers of upcoming events. Prior to the date, Nutella changed the header images on its social pages to make its users aware of “World Nutella Day, February 5th”.

If you choose to highlight upcoming events, make sure to change the headers when they are no longer relevant or risk appearing inactive or outdated (which Nutella did by leaving its World Nutella Day banner up for days after the event).

Whatever design direction you take, make sure your graphics are the correct sizes and formats, and aligned correctly to look their best. Platforms are regularly updating their layouts, so make sure your sizes and formats stay current.

Mostly, follow the standards that made your brand memorable in the first place.