From a designer who loves designing logos you'd probably think I'd say "Yes", but I love designing brands even more. Your profile image, like your logo is simply one element of your brand in its entirety.
Like all elements of your brand it needs to work hard for you. We like to think of social media graphics as a tool in your brand tool kit, which also contains, at a minimum: your brand promise, mission statement, colour scheme, typography/photography style, brand language and graphic devices.
Therefore this tiny little square is part of a much bigger picture and needs to be thought about in terms of your business, marketing and brand strategies. It would be wrong to assume it should be a logo or a head shot without thinking about how you can make that free advertising space useful for you. If you had to pay fifty bucks for that ad space you'd think more about what you wanted it to communicate.
Founder of Amazon and now millionaire Jeff Bezos said that,"brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room". At One Line we say it's also what people see when you're not there.
Use your brand as a tool, a visual sales person when you're not there. You'll save a lot of time and be able to fall in love with the things you like doing in your business on a day to day basis.
So when it comes to profile images, how can you use it as a tool? Well the obvious answer is if you have your headshot on social media then those awkward networking events become a lot less awkward. People you've been tweeting on the run up to it know what you look like, so no more fumbled first interactions over cheap wine - hoorah!
Seriously though, people buy from people. Think of your brand as a person and design a logo with that in mind. Give it it's own voice and story and your customers will be able to resonate with it on an emotional level.
As the digital landscape grows consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with trust. If they can't see the person behind your brand how can you expect them to engage.
A head shot is the perfect way to start building that personality behind your brand (and no Sarah didn't pay me to say this.) I can speak from experience. In 2013 when we changed the One Line profile images to my face rather than our logo the engagement and follower levels jumped right up within moments.
For businesses who are trying to reach a wider audience and make themselves more visible and recognisable online a headshot will resonate far better with people who don't know you than a brand logo that they've never heard of. It's a great way to build your profile.
You could even do both at the same time. We did this with The Little Fair Trade Shop's social media graphics. Sabeena was well recognised online and had built a great following using a headshot. Working with us on a rebrand she wanted to push the brand identity a bit more. This was all part of a bigger strategy because the logo was about to be the single visual used on packaging - we needed to connect her packaging with what people also saw online without losing the personal touch. So that company mug does come in handy after all.
Of course if your logo is everything about your brand then yes for sure use it as your profile image. If you're Nike or FedEx we're probably not going to want to see a photo of your CEO but actually a shot of real life people on your team would be quite interesting and it lets us know you're not a team of robots. Don't forget you have that huge banner behind your profile image to use as free advertising space. So if your strategy dictates that you have your logo in the square, then have a team shot in the banner. If it's a headshot in the square then use your logo in the banner. Think about combinations of photography and logo or key messages that will work hard for what you're trying to achieve with your digital marketing.
Like, follow, connect and check out my ugly mug at http://www.onelinestudio.co.uk/