Give Your LinkedIn Profile Some Sizzle with a Custom Banner

Branding is so important for your career that you can and should take every opportunity you can to express yours. That goes for LinkedIn, as well, where it’s difficult to differentiate yourself from the nearly 600 million members on the platform.

One way to boost your LinkedIn profile’s brand, though, is to customize the background that shows behind your profile. For example, here’s mine:

Why You Need a Custom LinkedIn Banner

As you can see, a distinctive header background adds color and flair to your profile and can be used to add a highly visible message as well. Your banner, when customized, offers you three benefits. First, it enables you to deepen your profile’s branding, which in turn helps you to stand out. Second, it is memorable and distinguishes you in the eyes of your readers, which makes some more likely to revisit your profile or read it more thoroughly. Third, it gives you the opportunity to leverage a tagline in a location on your profile that is sure to be seen.

But designing a custom header for your LinkedIn profile can be a headache if you don’t already possess and know how to use photo-editing software. An easy solution is to use Canva, a free online visual editing platform, which has premade banner templates you can alter to your heart’s content.

Get Started with Canva

Visit Canva.com to get started on your banner. Although Canva will want you to sign up for a free trial, you don’t have to and can click out of that invite and check out your template options right away. Just click Browse at the top left of the page and then select Templates.

Insert “LinkedIn” into the search box and hit enter. Then sift through dozens of templates to choose one to customize. Keep in mind that every element you see – the photos, text, colors, and shapes – are all customizable, so choose a template that you either like as-is or that uses a basic layout that you find appealing. Here are just a few of the LinkedIn banner templates available on Canva:

When you find a template you want to adapt, click on it. At this point, you will need to sign up for a free Canva account to continue. Once you do so, the design workspace will appear with your chosen template on the right, ready to be customized:

It’s important to note that every template is made up of layers, each of which you can change. In the case of the template you see above, it consists of these layers arranged from the top down:

  • A block of grouped text (a header and a sub-header)
  • A picture of a desk with 35% transparency (which makes text pop when layered on top of it)
  • A dark background behind the photo (which grays it out a bit)

While you can alter any or all these elements, if you can find a template that requires minimal changes you’ll find your banner easier to create. Once you start changing elements, you’ll find some templates are more complex than they appear, which means that customization may also prove challenging.

Before we begin to alter this template, scroll back up to the picture of my banner that I included above. You’ll note that LinkedIn automatically inserts your headshot in a round border and places it near the lower left-hand corner of your banner. Keep this in mind as you construct your banner, because you’ll want to avoid placing any text or important images near where your headshot will appear. If you place any text you want to include to the top, center, or right side of your image, your banner should work well.

With my sample template, if I liked the image as-is and didn’t want to use text, I could just eliminate the latter by clicking on the text grouping and hitting “delete” or selecting the trash can icon in the upper right of the screen. But rather than do that, let’s alter the text, shall we?

The text offers a high-visibility location to showcase a tagline, testimonial, quote, or factoid to complement your Linkedin headline. Let’s say I want to change the text to read “Generated $57M in new revenue in <6 months,” but I don’t want to use a sub-header. First, I’ll need to ungroup this cluster of text so I can delete the sub-header. Click on the text element, then choose Ungroup from the menu above the template.

This enables you to click on and delete “Lee & Jones Manpower Solutions” without deleting “Your Business Is Our Business.” Once you’ve deleted the sub-header (hover over it until a four-way arrow appears, then select “delete), double-click on the remaining text to select it and replace it with your chosen tagline.

In the above image you can see that to the left of the Ungroup command, you can alter spacing, alignment, formatting, color, size, and font for the text you’ve chosen. Although you must double-click on text to change it, you don’t to format it – just select the text so the text box outline is visible as you see above, then make your formatting choices. I opted to change the font to Monserrat Extra-Bold and the color to a soft orange. I also stacked the phrasing to indent on the left to draw the reader’s eye to the final part of the sentence.

Quick Tip: When choosing fonts to layer on top of an image, stay away from ones that are so stylistic they are tough to read. Simple serif and sans serif fonts are best. All caps work well if the text is brief and impactful. Selecting a font with a name that includes the words “black,” “bold,” or “heavy” will help your text pop.

Here’s what my banner looks like so far:

Now, let’s say I also want to change the picture currently layered underneath the text. To do so, click on the image and hit “delete” or click on the trash can icon in the upper right of your Canva workspace. You’ll see a photo placeholder behind the image that wasn’t visible when a photo was present. Next, on the far left of your screen, choose Photos and use the search box to look for one you want to use. While many photos are free, some are not, so take that into consideration when you make your choice.

As you can see below, I searched for a photo of money and clicked on one I liked, which Canva automatically moved to the top-layer position in my template.

If I grab the photo and move it slightly to the left, Canva will shift it to a lower layer and move it onto the photo placeholder. Since there was already a dark background present, the photo remains subdued, making it easy to layer text on top. However, because the image I chose is a yellow-gold color, my text color doesn’t pop quite as much as it did. I could change it, but because the template will be enlarged on LinkedIn, I think it will be less obnoxious in its current color.

I like the banner as-is, so I’m ready to download it, which Canva lets me do for free. Click on Download in the upper right corner, choose Download again, then download as a PNG file.

Once you’ve designed your new banner, follow these instructions from LinkedIn to upload it to your profile.

Happy LinkedIn branding!

Does your LinkedIn profile need more help than a new banner? Does it need new content or a new connection strategy? Do you need a better network or to learn how to leverage LinkedIn to get more interviews and job opportunities? I can help ~ let’s talk.

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About Cheryl Lynch Simpson

Cheryl is a Career, Job Search & LinkedIn Coach and Master Resume Writer. She has helped clients in >35 industries on 6 continents and has earned 24 global resume writing nominations and awards.

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