Guide to Instagram Profile Pictures 2021

graphic of instagram profile picture
graphic of instagram profile picture

Instagram is truly the social media platform where a picture is worth a thousand words — and the first picture another may see is your Instagram profile picture, so it's worth getting it right.

Images are everything on the app, which is why you want to make sure you are uploading pictures at the highest possible quality and paying attention to the correct aspect ratios for your posts. And while you may spend hours agonizing over the posts that go in your feed, many users forget to put as much thought into the first that people will see: your profile picture.

Even though you should, it's easy to not give so much thought to your Instagram profile picture, compared to the images that actually are uploaded to your profile. But, you're here now, so we can tell you're interested in making sure yours is picture-perfect.

In this post, we'll answer some key questions when it comes to Instagram profile pictures and share tips that you need to use in order to make that all-important first impression from your profile pic.

Table of Contents

How Do You Decide What Instagram Profile Picture to Use?

Since profile pictures are the first thing that people look at when they come across your Instagram profile, you want to put some thought into choosing a profile picture that accurately represents you (or your brand). 

Usually, there are two types of profile photos that you will use for Instagram — a personal photo or a branded logo. Each image option has its own purpose as a profile photo on the app.

A branded logo is what businesses and company pages would usually go for when it comes to their Instagram profile picture. It makes sense to have a recognisable logo that will be familiar to your customers and audience. Think of brands like Nike, Apple, Facebook, and even Meltwater. 

meltwater instagram profile picture

If you intend on using a branded logo as your profile picture on Instagram, you want to consider just how much space you have to fit your brand name or signature icon. Remember that on Instagram, your profile picture size has to be 110x110 pixels which means that you don't have a lot of space to fit a long brand name or icon that is complex in detail. Perhaps use initials or the first letter of your brand name, like the Vogue Magazine Instagram account or Meltwater's signature brand logo in the company's recognisable colour palette. 

Personal Photo

A personal photo is primarily used if a brand is centered around a specific person. Oftentimes, a person may be the face of a business, so you'll see personal photos used for social media influencers and celebrities, political figures, or bloggers and journalists. 

michelle obama instagram profile picture

Again, think about the space that you have available for your profile picture. You may want to steer clear of a full-body image if you decide to use a personal photo for your Instagram profile. People won't be able to view your full-length photo at 110x110 pixels so consider using a head and shoulder image instead. 

What Are the Correct Dimensions for an Instagram Profile Picture?

In a previous post, we mentioned the correct Instagram image sizes to use on the app, but let's recap here:

  • On the mobile app, your profile picture appears as a circle on your Instagram profile at 110x110 pixels. The image size is 180x180 pixels when viewed on a desktop.
  • The profile picture appears round on everyone's profile on Instagram but is actually a square photo with an aspect ratio of 1:1.

Before you upload a picture to your profile, you might want to crop the image first into a square. This is so that your picture will fit the 1:1 aspect ratio and you won't need to zoom in or out to adjust the framing. 

How Do You Change Your Instagram Profile Picture?

Here are the steps involved in changing your profile picture:

  1. Open Instagram app on your mobile phone
  2. Navigate to your Instagram profile
  3. Click 'Edit Profile', which you'll find underneath your Instagram bio
  4. Click 'Change Profile Photo'

From here, you will have a few options to choose from when changing your profile picture, such as:

  • New Profile Photo (This option allows you to upload a new image that is currently on your mobile phone)
  • Import from Facebook (This option allows you to choose a photo from your Facebook page to be your new Instagram profile picture)
  • Remove Profile Photo (This option allows you to remove your current photo)

As you choose the image that you want as your profile picture, you'll notice a circle crops your image as an overlay. This is to show you what your photo will look like as an Instagram profile photo, so move the image around or zoom in and out if you need to until you have your image centered and in the circular overlay frame. 

Then click the arrow, which will take you to Instagram's in-app editing, where you can add filters and editing adjustments to your photo. Click the arrow and your new Instagram profile picture will appear.

Can You Increase Your Instagram Profile Picture Size?

The short answer? No, you can't increase the size of your Instagram profile picture, as you are limited to the 1:1 aspect ratio and 110x110 pixels. Instagram will automatically crop out anything that doesn't fit these dimensions. 

3 Tips for Instagram Profile Pictures

When selecting your next profile picture, keep these three tips in mind:

1. Make sure you use an evergreen photo

Even though there are Instagram social media challenges that may encourage you to change your profile picture to match the season or a specific event, you want to select a picture for your profile that will be timeless and evergreen.

nike instagram profile picture

Whether you use a branded logo or personal photo, having an evergreen image helps with brand recognition as people will recognize the picture from your Instagram profile as they view your Instagram Stories, scroll through their feed or find you on the Explore page. 

2. Use a professional photo

As a highly visual platform used for social marketing, you want to make sure that your profile picture captures the attention of Instagram users, and one way to do this is to use a professional-looking photo. The more crisp and clear the image looks, the better for your profile.

Whether you hire a professional photographer to take your personal photos or have a graphic designer creating your branded logo, make sure that the photos look professional and are of the highest quality possible (although, try not to exceed 500x500 pixels as Instagram may compress the image quality and pixelate your profile picture). 

3. Keep your Instagram profile picture on brand

If your brand has a particular colour palette or evokes a happy mood, you don't want to use the opposite of that in your profile picture. It will cause confusion for audiences and will make your profile picture feel disconnected from the rest of your Instagram feed. Instead, keep your Instagram profile picture on brand. From colours and fonts to the overall look and feel, make sure that your profile picture matches the personality of your brand that can be found on your feed. 

Instagram Profile Picture Ideas

If you need some help or inspiration on some profile pictures that you could use for your Instagram account, watch this video for some ideas that will make your images stand out on social media

How To Create Awesome Profile Pictures for Instagram, LinkedIn, FB,  & YouTube (Profile Pics Ideas)

Conclusion

It may be small but your profile picture on Instagram is incredibly important in making you stand out on social media. Put real effort into making sure that you choose a photo that represents you and your brand so that you can capture the attention of people scrolling through their Instagram feed or the Explore page.

Remember to keep your profile picture as evergreen as possible, so that you don't confuse audiences with continuously changing something that should easily be recognisable for them. Use the tips in this guide to help you so that soon enough, you have a profile photo that speaks more than just a thousand words and truly captures who you are

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