Make Your Tiny Avatar Work for You

I’m on Twitter a lot, as anyone who follows me knows. Hootsuite is my go-to app to view and compose tweets as well as to interact with numerous independent schools on topics of branding and marketing.


If you’ve ever seen Hootsuite’s interface, you know it’s well organized, yet busy. There’s a lot to look at and, if you’re like me, you’re scanning the content fast to see what tweets grab you while searching for your favorite tweeters at the same time.


Your avatar is the only thing that makes your independent school tweet look different from the zillion other ones. So, in a perfect world, your school’s avatar will stand out from the crowd even at a tiny 48 x 48 pixels.

Independent school avatars should resemble corporate avatars, not personal ones — so this means no faces. Most of you understand this. (Take a look at this list of best corporate avatars to see what “good” looks like.)

So, what makes a good avatar for independent schools?


The space allotted to you is bitsy. If the type on the avatar is too small, it’s frustrating to read and makes you look like you didn’t notice or care.


avatars too hard to read


Independent school shields have a common trait. They’re common. Line up 20 shields in a row and you’ll quickly notice how similar they are to one another, and therefore, generally not distinguishing.




I understand that the iconic building or space on campus is memorable for your audience. But at 48 x 48 pixels, it does’t look like much. Perhaps an architectural detail would work better like a gargoyle’s face or acorn carving from a banister.


avatars photos


If you use a sports mascot for your Twitter feed, I hope the feed is dedicated to athletics and doesn’t include school tweets. While you might think that using a mascot on the school feed increases school spirit, it might do the school a disservice by making your audience think you’re not academically rigorous.


avatars mascots

A Better Bet

Using single color squares or large single letters are perhaps one of your best bets for your Twitter avatar. Done well, they stand out from the crowd and are easy to read.  Here are some good squares — Hotchkiss, York, and University Liggett.


avatars Squares


Here are some good letters — Proctor, Tilton, and Raney.


avatars Letters


For those who want to be truly distinctive, spread your wings and go for it — Santa Catalina School and Eagle Rock.


avatars Standouts


(By the way, all of these examples apply to your favicon for your website as well.)


When it comes to your tiny avatar, make it work its hardest for you by keeping some of these suggestions in mind.


Show us your avatar!

Liza Fisher Norman

Liza Fisher Norman

Principal/Master Electrician at Turnaround Marketing Communications/InspirED School Marketers

As principal of Turnaround Marketing Communications, Liza Fisher Norman has worked with more than 80 independent schools for over two decades guiding their brand development and marketing success. She is a frequent speaker at national conferences such as TABS, SSATB, and CASE-NAIS and provides insight on school marketing to followers of her blog and Twitter feed. Liza is excited about her new project, InspirED School Marketers (, a free online professional development resource and community that provides inspiration, education and information for school marketers. Get your school InspirED. Sign up for free.

  • delainanicole

    What about this one?nn

  • Liza Fisher Norman

    My apologies for the tardy response. I love your avatar. Your name is clear, the photos of the kids are great because they look engaged and happy. The colors are bright and attractive. My only comment is that the two smaller images get lost due to size. My guess is that you wanted to make sure you had both genders represented. But that might be better done with one photo with two children. (If you had an appropriate one to use.) Nice job. Do others have ones they’d like to share?