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Visuals and Graphics


Profile Image

  • To promote both individuality and consistency, we recommend using a “social lockup” as your profile image. See instructions and guidance. If you need assistance creating a social lockup, please complete the Initiate a Request form.
  • It is generally a best practice to be consistent with your profile image across your social media channels.
  • A special graphic created for time-limited events, campaigns or programs can also be used sparingly.
  • If you are using or creating a different kind of profile image (e.g. a photo) keep in mind that profile images are always quite small, and since most social media engagement happens on a mobile device, profile images are usually very hard to see. Simple, iconic images, like the social lockup, generally work best.

Cover Photo

  • Photos work best for the header images on your profile pages. A photo resizes better for different-sized desktop browsers and mobile devices. Text and graphics can easily get cut off or covered depending on the device a visitor uses to access your channel. Cover videos are also an option on some channels.
  • Channels have different requirements for the cover size. Profile pictures intersect or conceal the cover image differently across social media channels. Make sure your photo fits the space properly and the best part of the photo isn't covered by your profile picture or other element.


  • Excellent photography, graphics and video are essential tools to communicate effectively on social media. Posts with clear visuals typically outperform those without visuals.
  • For a broad collection of free images, please reference Northwestern's Marketing Digital Asset Management System (MDAM).
  • Be mindful when finding or sourcing images outside of MDAM that you have the rights and/or permissions to use the material.
  • For more information on graphics, see: design guidelines. The rules of design and brand standards also apply on social media.
  • For more information on video, see video guidelines.
  • Refer to the @NorthwesternUniversity GIPHY channel for Northwestern owned GIFs. 
  • Include detailed alt-text descriptions (alternative text) whenever possible on graphics and images to ensure digital accessibility.