Instagram Profile Picture: How to Choose a Standout DP

Profile photo of Karen Lin, author

Karen Lin

Instagram 101 | May 24, 2024

Want More Real Instagram Followers?

First impressions are, perhaps, even more important now than ever before. On Instagram, your profile picture can mean the difference between minimal and high profile visits. Potential followers may decide whether or not to hit your follow button based on your Instagram profile picture. If you’re growing a brand on the platform, you must know how to choose a profile picture that stands out and genuinely represents you.

Professional headshot of a woman for her Instagram profile picture.

Instagram Profile Picture 101

Know the basics of choosing the right Instagram profile picture so you can make the best possible first impression on your followers.

Instagram Profile Picture Size

Why do you need to know the correct Instagram profile picture size? You need to get the size exactly right or as close to the ideal size as possible to ensure the best image resolution. If you upload a photo that’s too big, for example, you may have to crop it and/or reposition it. This means you may end up losing some elements in your picture.

Currently, Instagram stores display pictures (DP) at 320 x 320 pixels; this is the optimal picture size to upload. But the actual size of your Instagram DP is different when shown on the mobile app and on a desktop. The DP size for each one is:

  • ‍Instagram DP size for mobile: 110 x 110 px
  • Instagram DP size for desktop: 180 x 180 px

It’s better to use the ideal size for a desktop to ensure a high-quality image for both mobile and desktop.

While the photo dimensions are square, your profile photo is displayed in a circle. This leaves little room for extra elements you may want to include. If you’re using your business logo, you must make sure all the letters will be visible and easily deciphered within the circular frame. If you’re using a photo of yourself, make sure you’re properly centered when you take the picture. If it’s a close-up of your face and it’s off-center, the circular frame will crop out part of your head/face.

How to Change Profile Picture on Instagram

It’s easy to change (or add) a profile picture on your Instagram. Here’s how to change your profile picture on Instagram.

  1. Tap your profile picture in the bottom right corner.
  2. Tap Edit Profile.
  3. Click Change profile photo.
  4. Tap Edit picture or avatar (or Upload Photo).
  5. Select New profile picture or Import from Facebook.
  6. When you select New profile picture, you’ll be taken to your phone’s gallery. You can choose from your saved photos or use the camera to take a new Instagram profile picture. If you choose to import from Facebook, Instagram will use the same picture you’re already using for your Facebook profile.

 Phone screen displaying an Instagram profile picture on an account's main page.

How to Choose the Perfect Instagram Dp

Keep these in mind when choosing your Instagram profile picture.

Your Instagram Profile Picture Should Clearly Introduce People to Who You Are as a Brand

Your Instagram profile picture is front and center in terms of social branding. It’s what people will immediately picture in their heads when they think or hear about your brand. It’s what you want people to quickly visualize when they see anything relevant to your brand. So make sure that people can easily identify who you are as a brand via your DP when they visit your profile page for the first time.

Your Instagram Profile Picture Should Make Your Brand Instantly Recognizable

Your Instagram profile picture is the smallest image on your page, but it should pack a lot of punch. Even when you change DPs, your photo should always have a distinct element that’s uniquely yours and instantly recognizable. Think of Nike’s check mark or National Geographic’s iconic yellow frame. It also helps to use the same DP across all your social media pages.

Your Instagram Profile Picture Should Have Eye-Catching Colors

Choose colors that communicate the mood you want or convey your personality. You can add a pop of color to the background, your clothes, a product, or your logo. The colors should jump out and grab people’s attention even through the small thumbnail that people see when they’re scrolling through their feed. At the same time, your Instagram profile picture’s colors should be consistent with your page’s overall aesthetic and your brand’s image.

Check out @qveenherby’s DP and how she uses visually striking colors.

 Instagram profile picture using striking colors.

Use HD DP for Instagram

Your DP should have a high resolution and be properly sized, focused, and cropped to zero in on the most important details. Remember that the higher the number of pixels, the larger the image. So it’s important to stay as close as possible to Instagram’s ideal photo resolution size. Always upload the maximum resolution allowed to maximize image quality and have an HD DP for Instagram.

If you upload an Instagram profile picture that’s too big, Instagram will compress the image which can reduce image quality. You may end up with a blurry DP. If the image is too small, you’ll also get a distorted and pixelated image when Instagram enlarges it to fit the right DP size.

You should also choose a DP with a 1:1 aspect ratio. The aspect ratio simply refers to the image’s width and height. Additionally, the image should have the main subject up close and dead center. If you’re using a photo of yourself, always crop from the shoulders up. If you’re using your brand’s logo, make sure it’s centered and readable. Stick to imagery if your logo is hard to read when it shows up as a thumbnail on the main feed or search results.

Use a Good Photo Editor

If you use your phone’s camera to take an Instagram profile picture, you can edit it to get the right size and incorporate other elements using a good photo editor. Here are the best free photo editing apps today:

  1. Snapseed for both Android and iOS. Google’s Snapseed is great for editing photos on a mobile phone. It has an intuitive interface and offers tons of advanced editing tools. The most notable tools include precision masking to edit depth of field; and the selective adjust tool which lets you edit a specific area.
  2. VSCO for both Android and iOS. VSCO offers a stunning selection of filters that produce analog-camera effects. Try out this app if you’re going for a classic look with your Instagram profile picture.
  3. Prisma for both Android and iOS. Prisma is your best option if you’re looking for a free app that creates fantastic painting effects. The app offers more than 500 creative filters free of charge.
  4. Adobe Photoshop Express for both Android and iOS. For all-around photo editing, Adobe Photoshop’s mobile app always delivers. You’ll get the best of Photoshop’s editing tools, plus a great selection of smart filters. Smart filters automatically correct exposure problems, color temperature, and other common quality issues. If you’re a professional graphic artist, Adobe Lightroom is your best bet for quick, professional adjustments on a phone.
  5. Adobe Photoshop Fix for Android. Adobe Photoshop Fix is great for editing portraits. The app offers more than just amazing filters and effects. You can also fix or remove unwanted elements in your pictures and get professional-level results.
  6. Photoleap for iOS. Photoleap Editor by Lightricks is an artistic photo editing app that allows you to create dramatic effects through graphic elements, photo blending, and more.

When choosing a photo editing app, think about the results you want to achieve and try out different apps to find the best one for your purpose. As much as possible, limit your photo editing apps to no more than two. It’s better to be highly proficient using a specific set of tools, rather than just having average skills with different tools from different apps.

Picture of white sneakers being edited using photo editing tools.

Use an Instagram Profile Picture Downloader

You can use an Instagram profile picture downloader to download your current DP and enhance it with your photo editor. Try the free Instagram Photo Download Tool to instantly download photos from Instagram straight to your device. You only need to provide the Instagram profile page link and the tool will download your Instagram profile picture in high quality. You can also use this tool to download any public profile’s DP.

Instagram Profile Picture Ideas

These Instagram profile picture ideas will help you choose the perfect shot to make a strong and lasting impression.

  • Professional headshot. This is the ideal Instagram profile picture choice for creators, influencers, bloggers, thought-leaders, and other similar brands built around a person. If you can’t afford to pay a professional photographer or don’t have a professional camera, a good-quality phone camera will do. Try out the photo editing apps above to achieve professional-level results. Check out the headshot below:

Headshot of a woman with leaves in the background.

  • Well-designed company logo. An expertly conceptualized and designed business logo is a must for any enterprise. These days, company logos must also be optimized for social media marketing. Using your logo is the best choice to establish brand identity. A great example is Volkswagen’s iconic and minimalist logo below.

Volkswagen's log with the letters V and W on a blue background.

  • Avatar or illustrated profile picture. If you’re a visual artist, a gamer, or creating a fictional persona for your brand and audience, this would be an ideal option for you. See @misterctoons’ Instagram profile picture which uses a cartoon image.

Cartoon avatar used as an Instagram profile picture.

  • Seasonal DP. Add a seasonal element to your current DP or use themed photos that are perfect for every holiday. This photo of a girl wearing a summer hat at the beach definitely says “Summer ready!”

Girl wearing summer hat at the beach.

Attract More Followers With Your Instagram DP

For brands, choosing the right Instagram profile picture is not about vanity. It’s about how you portray your brand on social media. It’s about how you want others to see you. It’s about what you want to communicate via a single image. Your Instagram DP may seem like a minor feature on your page, especially compared to the bigger photos on your main grid. And if this is exactly how other people see your profile picture, then you’re using the wrong one.

Your Instagram profile picture should be one of the first things that draws more people to your page. It should be one of the reasons that users choose to follow you. When you successfully drive people to your page with your IG DP, make sure they don’t leave without hitting your follow button by giving them something worth their while. We’re referring to the type of content they’ll find on your page.

Instagram users can discover you via your sponsored posts, the Explore page, the Reels page, the search bar, or Instagram’s suggested posts. More often than not, your profile pic will only be displayed as a tiny thumbnail. You have to make up for the tiny size with an image that grabs viewers’ attention and makes them want to see more.

Beyond your DP, growing your brand on Instagram requires dedicated organic content promotion and precise audience targeting. If you need help with both, you can team up with an expert in Instagram growth strategy, a company like Path Social.

With Path Social, you’ll have the advantage of their proprietary AI targeting technology. You can be sure that they’ll find the right audience for your content and that the followers you’ll get are already interested in what you have to offer. They also have an in-house team of social media specialists who does all the heavy lifting involved in promoting your brand and content to your target audience.

Trusted by more than 20 thousand Instagram brands across all niches and industries, Path Social is your best bet for lasting and rewarding growth. Start growing and gaining Instagram followers today!