Design a Winning Header Image for Your Blog

There are so many blog templates and so little time. So it’s understandable why many bloggers stick with “out of the box” template designs.

But here are the top reasons you should have a well-designed custom header image.

A custom header image allows you to:

  1. Establish your brand
  2. Tell visitors where they are
  3. Establish identity

Establish Your Brand

Your customer header image should match your other Web site, print, and offline marketing designs. This consistency helps to reinforce your overall company and/or personal brand.

Mari Smith, Facebook and Twitter marketing expert, exemplifies this branding concept. Below, notice that her Twitter profile and “Why Facebook?” blog both use the same colors, background design, similar pictures, and both use her “blinged out” M logo.

Mari Smith uses consistent design elements to establish her brand on her 'Why Facebook?' blog
Mari Smith uses consistent design elements to establish her brand

Mari Smith’s Twitter profile also reinforces this same brand. Consistency FTW!

Mari Smith uses same branding elements on Twitter to reinforce her brand
Mari Smith uses same branding elements on Twitter to reinforce her brand

Tell visitors where they are

There are over 100 million blogs on the Internet so it is important that your blog visitors know where they are. The easiest way to do this is to put a big honkin blog title on your header image. Mari Smith’s blog is named “Why Facebook?” It’s clear, it’s obvious, and it eschews obfuscation (avoids confusion).

Search engine optimization tip: Make sure you have your blog title as text on other parts of your blog design. This will help search engines, like Google, index it as a crucial keyword phrase. That way, if someone searches over your title, it will have a great ranking and hopefully show up towards the top of the search results. This is less likely to happen if you only use the text on the image.

This blog is named “Build Your Fan Base”, so I make sure to have this show up as part of the standard blog template text at the top of the page to take advantage of this optimization.

Establish Identity

If you have several blogs, Web sites, and social networking presences (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Flickr, etc.), it is important to establish your identity early on. I distinguish between Brand and Identity because you could have a corporate brand for a blog (any many blogs) but a personal identity for the blogger.

How many times have you visited a blog, read through some of its great content then scanned the site only to realize there was no name attached to the blog? This is a huge lost opportunity.

To establish identity via your blog header, use a photograph of yourself and make sure your name is on the header. If you do have several Web presences, go the extra step and make sure your photograph matches the other sites. Having a similar expression and wearing similar color clothing help make things that much more consistent. I use the same image on my Twitter profile as I do on this blog to keep things easy and so I don’t have to shop for a dozen light grey shirts.


To maximize your blog, use a customer image header that reflects your brand, tells visitors immediately where they are, and also announces your name and mug to the world. If you use this trifecta of tips, you will surely be on your way to building a valuable and lasting fan base.

5 thoughts on “Design a Winning Header Image for Your Blog”

  1. I started using Twitter back in November, since then I’ve begun to love it. What started out as a love hate relationship it’s allowed me to network with people in my industry alot easier. News and updates happen in real time which makes for a great only app.

  2. Hi, Jesse.

    I agree about replacing the template image w/ a custom header image, and just want to add this: Folks, please don’t steal images (photos or drawings) off the web. Just because you found it via Google Images doesn’t mean it’s free for the taking. Assume that everything is copyrighted, unless it specifically says otherwise. If you can’t get in touch w/ the photographer to request permission, find another image or at the very least, credit the source of the photo.

    As for names & portrait photos, I think that depends on the person’s level of comfort and what they hope to achieve with their online presence. Using the same nickname & avatar on Twitter, Flickr, Gmail, WordPress, etc, still creates some kind of branding while at the same time protecting the person’s identity.

    1. Yes, taking random images is bad form and sometimes illegal. I like to take a lot of photos so I use those as snippets for other images I create. I either purchase the images from a site like iStockPhoto or use them with credit from Flickr Creative Commons licensed location.

      In this post I focused on a branding a blog header image with a person, but it could also be with a brand logo or related imagery. It’s up to the blogger whether they want to disclose exactly how they look and such. There may be privacy issues. I just converted this site from being static to a blog so even I have to add my mug to it. I’ll probably add my face to a video section at the top of one of the sidebars. ~Jesse

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