Facebook Timeline is now the standard layout for all brand and company Facebook Pages. There’s been extensive chatter about how the change will impact businesses, but the general consensus is that the addition of the cover photo has the potential to be a huge asset for visual storytelling.

So now that everyone is using the new layout, who has best capitalized on the change? Here are eight companies that have used the cover photo as a way to show off their products, their people and their missions on Facebook.

1. The New York Times

Focusing on your team, especially if personnel is a driving force behind your success, can be a powerful image to present to your fans. The New York Times aced this approach with a beautifully arranged staff photo that shows applauding employees standing on two floors of its newsroom. It’s an especially powerful image to use for a brand that is predominantly focused on words, and serves as a reminder of the human element that powers one of the world’s top journalism entities.

2. Converse

Photo collage has proven a common approach for the cover photo. It’s an easy way to combine several facets of your brand, which is certainly appealing when you run a diversified company or sell a broad range of products.

Converse provides a great example of this tactic with a grid of its shoes worn in a variety of artsy shots. The color filters and fuzziness in each picture give an overall retro vibe to the collage that’s perfect for the classic sneaker brand. This Page is a good reminder to think about how you can use technologies such as Photoshop or Instagram to give extra personality to your brand’s images.

3. Ben & Jerry’s

The ice cream company out of Vermont has always been skilled at marketing both its community relations initiatives and its delicious product. Ben & Jerry’s is a brand with strong name recognition, and that means the company can rely on its trademark graphic style for a Facebook cover photo.

Its simple design matches the vibe of the branding — no need for words if you have great graphics! The Page header doesn’t even mention the product until the final line of the About page. If you have nationally-known branding, use it to your advantage to create a cover image that looks more approachable and less blatantly like advertising.

4. Game of Thrones

One bold graphic can communicate volumes about the tone and style of your product, in this case, a television show. HBO’s “Game of Thrones” created an image of a hand grasping a thorny crown. The harshness fits the show’s gritty, no-holds-barred fantasy world.

The accompanying text is concise, complementing rather than detracting from the overall effect of the cover photo. Just as with Ben & Jerry’s above, simplicity can be your friend. And this show proves that you don’t need a nationally-known brand campaign as a foundation for powerful imagery.

5. Smirnoff US

There are many designers making creative use of the positioning of the cover photo and profile, but Smirnoff US is one of the best. The vodka brand usually favors the atmosphere of the sexy young person’s party in its advertising, and the cover photo for its U.S. business is no exception. But the unexpected 3D effect of a hand reaching out on the left to grab the bottle in its profile photo adds a whimsical twist to the otherwise standard marketing approach.

6. Zipcar

Brands relying on inspirational photos are a dime a dozen. That’s not to say the approach doesn’t have its merits. But why not elevate your standard inspirational photo with smart text? Zipcar nailed it with this photo of two women on a beach at sunset overlaid with the text “Un-zipping-believable” and “Get out and zip.” The copy conveys a carefree attitude of adventure against the quiet power of the photo, making it more effective than the shot would be on its own.

7. Sharpie

Think about showcasing your product in an unexpected light. Sharpie has a well-known product most frequently associated with an office context, but the brand instead decided to highlight the potential for its creative uses.

Most viewers will be impressed at the cover photo’s detailed pen drawings done on paper cups. Art created through this unusual combination of media lends a quirkiness and individuality you wouldn’t naturally associate with office supplies.

8. 826 National

The right photo can highlight your mission perfectly, even if you aren’t selling anything. This image for nonprofit 826 National shows the group’s focus on children and literacy, but has an additional charm that permeates the whole organization. A boy missing a tooth holding up a book with a story about the Tooth Fairy? Adorable. The lesson here is that a sincere presentation of your human interest side can be very touching (and effective).

[Image credit: Marco Gomes]