social-media-avatar-design-lead

When it comes to using your new logo on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and YouTube, square is usually where it’s at. A beginner’s guide to building your online brand.

The Logo Factor buyers editionGenerally speaking, whenever the proud owner of a new logo takes delivery of their artwork and digital assets, the first places they head for are the various social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook, Linked In and YouTube among them – to upload the design into profiles and avatars. Thanks to the interfaces offered by these platforms, this should be a relatively simple procedure – if you have your logo image set up correctly – or a bit of a pain if you don’t. Judging by the number of times we’ve had to explain this recently, it might be time to drop a quick and dirty ‘how to’ post on what’s what.

Formats for social media.

Whenever you take delivery of digital assets of your logo, there should be a range of different files – we’re not going to rehash those again, see here for a full breakdown of the various logo formats – in both vector and bitmap configurations. When it comes to using your logo on social media you can ignore vector formats – .EPS, .AI, .PDF – entirely and look for files ending in the extensions .JPG or .PNG.social-media-avatar-formatsThese are the universal Internet friendly images that you’ll be working with. Unless your logo is square to begin with, you’re probably going to need some image editing software – Adobe Photoshop is the professional rig but there’s many other apps that you can utilize on your desktop, smartphone or tablet. See here for a decent list. Important note here, a golden rule really, is that you should never, ever, ever, enlarge pixel based images as they’ll appear blurry or fuzzy (here’s why.) You’re going to need images of your logo that are at least as big (in pixels) as the image size required by the various platforms.logo-design-file-sizesAt our shop we usually tag file names with the pixel width as part of our digital deliverables so it’s easy to sort out which is which.

“My logo doesn’t fit into the format – it gets cut off!”

When it comes to crowbarring their logos into formats needed by social media upload pages, there’s two major areas that seems to trip do-it-yourself business owner – the notion of bounding boxes and aspect ratios of their images. It’s a lot less fancy pants and technical than it sounds so let’s break it down quickly. An aspect ratio is the relationship between the horizontal size of your logo to it’s vertical. There’s no absolutes but your total logo is generally going to fall into one of the following types.logo-design-aspect-ratiosWith the rise of adaptable logos (where the symbol portion can move around) your logo may fit into several aspect ratios depending on what version you’re using, but the premise always remains the same. Keeping in mind that all digital images are perpendicular, your logo will always sit in a “bounding box” or “canvas” – that’s the box shape that all the various bits and pieces need to fit into. You can think of it as an imaginary box drawn around the absolute edges of your logo. Let’s take a look at a recent branding project from our shop – Zeltone – and how this applies to their design:zeltone-logo-bounding-boxSeems simple enough right? Here’s where the “my logo gets cut off!” panicked emails come from. All, yes ALL, social media avatars and profile pics are square and your logo image has to fit edge-to-edge. If your images aren’t prepped properly, this is what you’ll end up with as you futz around with their online cropping tool trying to jam things in.social-media-logo-bounding-boxWhen we scale the logo image to the widest edge (horizontal) it doesn’t fill the vertical size of the avatar square and you’ll get an error message. If you scale the logo to it’s smallest edge (vertical) in order to fill up the square – while remembering the “golden rule” about not sizing up pixel based images – the horizontal edge increases too and the logo will be cropped. Sure you can usually move the image around a bit using the online uploader of whatever platform you’re using, but the results are slap dash at best. There’s only one real solution and that’s to take one of your logo images and using one of the image editors we linked up-post, expand the smallest edge (A) – in this case the vertical – so that it matches the widest – in this case the horizontal (B). Like so:adjusted-social-logo-design-bounding-boxYou’re now the proud owner of a logo that sits inside a square bounding box and is social media friendly. Here’s how it plays out in the image uploader of the platform you’re trying to set up your account on:
adjusted-social-media-logo-bounding-boxOnce you’ve opened up the bounding box you may want to give your logo a ferw pixels to breathe, as well as center it visually for a nicer appearance.

Social media avatars, sizes and image resolution.

As social media platforms all require different sizes for their avatars and profiles (and these tend to change from time to time) we’re going to list them as they stand at time of writing. The image sizes are in pixels and are the ‘optimal’ upload size (not necessarily the size at which they’ll appear throughout the various platforms nor the required sizes either.)
Facebook: 360px X 360px
Twitter: 500px X 500px
Google Plus: 250px X 250px
Pinterest: 600px x 600px
Linked In: 400px x 400px
Instagram: 180px X 180px
YouTube: 800px X 800px
If you wanted to keep things really simple you can create one image and use it for all the social media platforms. With the golden rule about never enlarging bitmap images in mind, you’d have to start with the biggest – at 800 pixels square that’s currently YouTube – and scale them down for others as required using the online cropping tools available. A few caveats with this approach – in order to resize images through their upload tools, most of the social medial platforms use their own image compression software with varying degrees of success. Twitter isn’t bad, but Facebook’s is awful. Depending on your logo you may get better results using a .JPG file over a .PNG file (it’s better not to use .PNG files with transparent backgrounds as some of the compression engines have a hard time figuring out what’s supposed to go where.) While it’s a bit of a hassle, it’s a much better idea to have a selection of sizes – small, medium and large let’s say – that does the resizing work at your end (shameless plug here – we can set you up at the shop for a couple of hours billable. Give us a shout if you’re interested.) Another thing to confuse the issue – while all social media platforms use square images as uploads, a few decided (for reasons known only to themselves) to vignette avatars inside circular masks (YouTube and Instagram currently) so you’ll have to toy around with what works best there with your logo.

Custom social media avi design.

You may also want to create different versions of your avatars depending on what platform they’re being featured on. With the Zeltone example we used earlier, we could quickly come up with three:social-media-avatar-designsBy toying around with the various platforms on different devices, you’ll be able to ascertain which version is better suited for which app. As the images are pulled from the same logo, you’re on your way to creating an online brand as even though they’re different, each icon shares similar visual characteristics. And that’s about that – pretty much all you need to use your new logo as an avatar on social media. We’ll bring this full circle in a few days with some basics on how to set up banners and what-not to match.