With over 2 billion profiles online, Google+ is a bona fide social media heavyweight.
Like most social media platforms, Google+ gives you a blank canvas to show off to the world, and, as it is in real life, it’s important that you present yourself in the best way possible.
The design of your cover image is entirely up to you, but with the flexibility comes a huge amount of choice, which can become quite overwhelming. So, let’s break it down. In this article we will set out 12 simple tips (with 36 beautiful examples) that will have you well on your way to creating the perfect Google+ cover image.
01. Size It Before You Design It
As with any design, one of the first things you should figure out is the size of your canvas. After all, you don’t want to spend time creating a stunning design just to have to cut and crop it later on to fit properly!
So, when it comes to Google+ cover image designs, you have two choices.
Firstly, you can size it manually. Google recommends that a good size to stick to for your cover photo is 1080 x 608 pixels.
Alternatively, you can use a premade Google+ template. Templates like the beautiful set in Canva have the dimensions readily drawn up for you, so that all you have to worry about is making things look good.
02. Use Your Brand’s Color Palette
Are you designing for a brand? Well, chances are that that brand has a signature color palette – whether it’s a specific shade of green or a simple, sharp monochromatic palette. Whatever the case, your job just got made a whole lot easier.
By designing your Google+ cover using your brand’s color palette, you can create a more cohesive social media design for your brand, just as these examples have done.
Netflix has a signature color palette of white, red, and grey, and this palette is used within their Google+ cover’s type and background to create a simple cover image that complements the brand.
Nest is a brand that uses one specific shade of blue as their signature color. Instead of using type and graphics to reinforce this palette as the previous example does, this one simply uses a photograph that has a dominant color that matches and complements the Nest branding.
If you can, try to adjust your photos to bring out your brand’s signature tones to create a simple, clean cover image design.
Behance takes yet another approach to branding with color by simply running a color over a collage of images to brand it with their signature royal blue.
This quick technique is a great way for Behance to communicate that all of these collaged images belong under the Behance umbrella. So not only is it a functional technique, it’s an eye-catching and effective one too.
03. Use High Quality Photographs
High quality photographs look really good as Google+ cover images, so breaking out the DSLR and taking a few sharp photographs of things that represent you or your brand can make for a quick, easy, and effective cover image. Check out these examples below.
Now, this cover image by NASA wasn’t quite taken by a DSLR, but rather the Hubble Space Telescope, but you get the point. This striking HQ image of the Veil Nebula not only looks fantastic as a cover photo, but it also helps to engage audiences with the page content immediately.
Wedding photographer Azul Photography uses a stunningly serene photograph to create a calm and romantic atmosphere, which helps to set the tone for the social media page as well as show off a little of Azul’s work in the process.
National Geographic Education uses a colorful, high-saturation image to draw interest and a sense of liveliness and excitement to the page design. Consider adjusting your photographs in simple ways, like bumping up the saturation a few notches, to help bring out the liveliness in your images.
This example also does a cool thing by carrying the cover image through to the profile picture, creating a very engaging and cohesive banner design. It really gives a whole new meaning to the term, ‘think outside of the box’.
04. Or Go Entirely Graphic
Photographs are a fantastic tool, but if you’re in the market for a sleeker, modern, and sharper design, using graphics might be the way to go for you.
YouTube uses a collage of simple graphic symbols to capture their brand’s personality and ethos – fun and growth – in a simple, visual way. The use of the red-on-red color scheme as well helps to brand this design with the YouTube color palette.
Love this approach? Well, what if I told you that it’s surprisingly easy to master? Canva have a library full of icons and illustrations ready and waiting for you to just drag and drop onto your design.
Language learning app, Duolingo, keeps things simple by using a clean illustration that fits within their brand’s style – clean shapes, flat colors, etc. This example also manages to personify the app’s purpose in a simple, polished way.
Internet news site Buzzfeed opts for the graphic approach by using their sharp brand mark and branded fuschia/red color gradient to make for a simple, sharp design. The subtle patterning helps to add texture to the design, while keeping the focus on the sharp brand mark.
05. Use Color and Texture
Using color and texture pays off both in terms of just creating a nice looking design, but it also pays off with the format of the Google+ cover pages. The gaussian blur background to the left of the cover image often looks best when it’s laid over colored and textured images, as it throws more color and creates a beautiful effect.
Check out these next few cover designs for some examples on how to bump up the color and texture in your designs.
The Urban Artroom uses geometric shapes to create a sharp, modern texture with a lot of depth and dimension to it. This colorful approach also helps the left blur effect throw some beautiful colors, which helps to carry the design right across the page.
Where would this list be without some input from Google themselves? This cover image uses bold, colorful illustrations that are in keeping with the Google brand to create a lively, playful cover page. While this design doesn’t use texture but rather flat colors, the busier and denser illustrations help to give the design that engaging interest and depth in place of a tactile texture.
MailChimp uses a colorful, textured version of the brand mark to create a warm, energetic and tactile cover image that brings a lot of personality and character to the brand and design.
06. Add Unique Colors to Your Photographs
Are you set on using a photograph within your cover image design? Well, don’t just throw your photo down onto the screen and call it a day, consider personalising it by adjusting your colors, structure, and effects in a unique way.
By adjusting your photographs, you can not only enhance them in interesting ways, but you can brand your image and create specific atmospheres and tones for your social media pages. Let’s look at some examples.
Clothing retailer ModCloth transforms a beautiful image into a dreamy cover image by subtly lowering the contrast, and bumping up the warmer tones. You can do this yourself by using premade photographic filters, or by adjusting the contrast, saturation, etc. yourself, until you create the atmosphere you’re after.
Music streaming service Spotify adjusts their photos in a much more punchy way by running a bright two-tone filter over their images to create a vibrant, unexpected effect.
While this example doesn’t use the Spotify green color specifically, it stays on-brand by using vibrant, bold, almost neon colors to promote that youthful, energetic Spotify tone.
Designer Marcelo Romano uses colors in a specific way by gently coloring the background image with soft, warm tones. But, it also customises the photograph by introducing strips of subtle colors and a brand mark into the corner to help brand and customise the photograph/cover image.
07. Use the Space to Promote Yourself
Consider promoting yourself or your business/product/service with your Google+ cover image by using visual and typographic hierarchy to draw attention wherever you want it drawn. Let’s look at some examples that do just that.
Pauline Cabrera uses a flat lay image paired with simple, bold type, to promote herself and her website in a digestible way. This design manages to cram a lot of information into a small space by using clean colors, open margins and a logical typographical hierarchy.
This design by Mia Voss stitches a few images together to give a more rounded view of who Mia Voss is as a person and professional. Plus, when paired with the written description, it offers a nice overall promotion of her business.
Try to balance out your images with flatter, simpler sections as has been done in this example with the teal block of color. This will keep your design clean and prevent it from being overwhelming.
This design by David Amerland is another example of a flatlay-based design. This design positions David Amerland’s latest ebooks in a natural way, across the flatlay scene, in order to help promote them while still maintaining an effective looking design.
08. Flaunt Your Product
Does your brand create a certain piece of content or a particular product? Consider flaunting them in interesting ways to give users a hint of what they can expect from this social media page, other external pages, and your brand as a whole.
This design by satire news site The Onion mocks up a pretend newspaper cover page with headlines taken from their website. This technique promotes the site and content by giving a visual glimpse into the kind of content and humor you can expect from The Onion.
Try to think up unique and engaging ways to visualise your content and to give people a snapshot of what else you have to offer. If you’ve got good content, flaunt it!
Vevo uses a part to represent the whole by featuring one Vevo artist at a time. By using a beautiful high quality image of the artist, and pairing it with some simple, bold type and a link for how to find their Vevo page, this design helps to promote both the featured artist as well as Vevo’s content.
TIME promotes their printed content by collaging past covers to give users a visual example of their type of content and from where it ranges.
Note as well how this design uses scale to break up the grid of images and draw attention to one specific cover. Always keep the fundamental design principles in mind when designing your cover!
09. Create an Engaging Call to Action
Whether or not you notice them, calls to action are just about everywhere. A call to action is a request or instruction to do something. Sign up now! Click here! Download our ebook today! These are all examples of common calls to action that you might see online.
What you can do with your Google+ cover image is use it as a visual space to invite action and encourage people to click through to your site or purchase your product. Lets look at some cover images that use calls to action to encourage clicks.
Brain training app Lumosity uses a strong call to action that appeals to just about everybody. By using super simple type balanced with lightly colored geometric graphics, this design manages to fit consistently with the Lumosity brand, while simultaneously encouraging people to download their app and get started with their brain training.
Website building tool Wix uses a very simple call to action, ‘create your own stunning website’, to give users an instant idea of who Wix are and what they do. Since this design uses bold colors and a striking image, the type has been kept stylistically simple. Remember to always keep an eye on your balance!
Audiobook site Audible uses a very colloquially-written call to action to appeal to a younger demographic in an effective way. While the previous examples kept the type simple to keep things balanced, this design pairs the colloquial call to action with bold, brush-like type positioned on a diagonal to create a more personal, casual atmosphere.
10. Celebrate the Seasonal Changes
One of the most important things in social media marketing is keeping things fresh and up to date, and a great way to do that is to change your Google+ cover design throughout the year to mark certain milestones – such as seasonal changes, holidays, events, etc.
This design by Penguin Books USA celebrates the change in season to fall. By using a bold call to action (with a bonus seasonal pun) and warm fall-like colors, this cover page celebrates the change of season in a simple way that is still very in keeping with Penguin’s branding.
Kmart chooses to keep things updated by celebrating a holiday – Halloween. By pairing type, graphics and a photograph, Kmart creates a strong visual that captures their approach to Halloween – fun, playful and family-oriented, whilst still in-keeping with their clean, sharp brand.
The UK branch of Penguin Books keeps things up to date by celebrating an event – Penguin Books’ 80th anniversary. By using a very simple rainbow pattern, this design really hones in on the celebratory atmosphere, while still keeping things topical and relevant.
So, whether it’s an anniversary, a season, a holiday, or anything in between, consider visualising a current and topical event to keep your cover image fresh and up to date.
11. Put the Focus on Your Type
Type is a pretty powerful tool as it’s not only informative and communicative, but can also be highly visual. Consider using type to send a message while simultaneously creating a striking visual effect.
Let’s look at a few examples of cover designs that put type at the forefront to make for a really eye-catching design.
This design by Mario Maier uses large, bold, colorful type to make sure that you remember his name. This design takes inspiration right from 80’s typographical design, with the reflective surfaces, and neon colors, proving that you really can take inspiration from anywhere and make a stunning design.
This design by VSCO doesn’t use scale to put the focus on the type, but rather contrast and framing. By using bold type and lines over a dark, textured background, this simple mission statement from VSCO stays bold and eye-catching.
This design by WIRED uses a striking image but manages to keep the focus on the type by making it large, high contrast, and in an eye-catching typeface.
Keep in mind when designing that when it comes to type, oftentimes your best weapon to make type stand out is contrast and scale. Bump both of those values up and all eyes will be on your type.
12. Don’t Forget the White Space
A common trap to fall into when designing just about anything (but especially social media covers) is overcomplicating your design. A lot of Google+ designs fall into this trap by jamming a lot of elements into their design, and filling absolutely every space with more content.
A way to avoid this is by using white space. Ensure that there is room around all of your elements, try not to run type from edge to edge, keep margins between blocks of type and images, and let your content breathe.
For some inspiration on how to add some white space into your design, check out these examples below.
This design by Robert Ryan beautifully maintains the white space between each element by avoiding filling up the space between the focal image and type. This added white space instantly works to balance out the design and refocus the eye on the important elements, proving white space ≠ empty space.
This design by Instagram uses a clean, subtle gradient effect and the logotype to create a super simple, fast cover image. In this example, the space around the logotype is not filled with more content or graphics, but rather it simply lets the colors create interest and a warm, serene atmosphere.
This example from LAVA Brands has a focal point where there is a cluster of type, graphics and a brand mark, but this cluster of elements is balanced out by the expanse of white space at the top, which helps to direct attention to the focal elements and keep things clean.
Over to You: Create Your Own Google+ Cover Image Today
Launching into Google+ without a solid design plan is a bit like turning up to a party and realising you’re underdressed.
Decide early on where you want your focus to lie – on your product, your contact details, a call to action, etc. – and work your design to fit around that focal point.
Whether you’re a brand looking to promote your work, or just a casual Google+ user looking to create a stunning cover image, take the time to research, experiment and find a way to visually represent yourself.
Have you come across a Google+ cover image that caught your eye? Or perhaps you have your own personal tips and tricks to make the most of a social media cover. Either way, let us know down in the comments!