Do you stumble upon simply gorgeous Instagram handles that seem to have figured it all out? Their images are crisp, they all have that authentic brand feeling to them, and on top of that all (like it wasn’t enough of a hit to your ego!) they have mastered Instagram captions.
If only your brand could be so hip and cool! Well, I’ll let you in on you how to create consistent Instagram branding.
Instagram branding 101
First things first, Instagram (although cool) is just another social channel for your content. So it follows that you should treat it as such.
Ensure that Instagram fits in organically into your overall branding and business strategy. Once your customers land on your profile, they have to recognize your brand immediately. Don’t try to be something you are not; it will be apparent and damaging.
If your branding is clean and minimal – it should stay the same on Instagram. If your brand uses lots of bright colors, so should your Instagram photos.
Creating Instagram-worthy images
This network is all about beautiful, bold photos that catch attention. Don’t bother to upload grainy (unless you’re going for that look), low quality images – spoiler alert: it won’t rake in lots of likes. Your pictures are just one of millions of others, so you better step up your game.
Visual representation of your brand online may be the first experience your audience has with it – make sure it’s great. There is an abundance of royalty-free images websites, so it’s really not that difficult to find amazing high-quality photos. Lots of these services allow you to use the pictures for free or for a small fee.
Visual representation of your brand online may be the first experience your audience has with it – make sure it’s great.
You can employ stock images once in a while but try to use as much of unique imagery as possible. This will add a personal touch and tell a story about your brand. Hire a photographer to create high-quality pictures of your product or business.
If you use lots of your own images, make sure they are well-lit, high-contrast and clear. If the image is great contextually;but is grainy or dark, try to find it in better quality or recreate it.
You can also combine images with text to create some variety in your visuals. Canva will help you create stunning, eye-catching visual items that tell your story. People appreciate it when you take the time to create pleasant user experience.
Crafting a uniformed Instagram look
It may be challenging enough to take amazing photos on a constant basis; it might be even harder to ensure they all feel like pieces of one puzzle. Don’t get discouraged here – you can create consistent Instagram look.
Consistency is the key to visual marketing. Decide whether you want your brand to come across as serious, dramatic, romantic, funky or classy. Use filters to submerge your audience in to this feeling.
Consistency is the key to visual marketing.
First, look for your brand colors. If you’re creating product photos or staged photos of product usage, it should be relatively easy to bring in those colors into the photo. If it’s text-heavy images, then again, you have full control over font colors. Finally, if it’s truly a lifestyle photo, a behind-the-scenes moment or a casual photo, with a little help from filters you can enhance the brand look.
Spend a little time going through all the filters Instagram offers already. Clearly, some Instagram filters, like Clarendon, Lark and Juno, intensify hues and increase contrast. Others, such as Gingham, Crema and Reyes, make photos look more subdued and pale. Yet others, bring out specific colors. For example, Pepretua enhances blues and greens, Valencia adds yellow and Nashville adds pink hues. Also, don’t forget some filters will warm up the colors in a photo, while others will cool them down.
If Instagram filters don’t satisfy you, check out VSCO filters. These free and paid filters are a little more sophisticated. If you find a collection or a filter you like, spend a few bucks on it to drive your Instagram branding home.
Another thing you can do is to hop on over to Canva and play around with sliders to truly have control over saturation, brightness, contrast, hue, vignette and other options.
Pro tip: once you are happy with the settings, save the filter code you get in that window. Now, when you create other images, you can save a lot of time by simply pasting that code into the same window. This will apply all of those settings to any other image right away and give you that consistent Instagram look.
Of course, there is always Photoshop. If you feel comfortable playing around with settings and filters in Photoshop, go for it! You can also save your preferred look as a preset to save you some time in the future!
Place branding consistently
Use consistent logo and its placement on all of your visual marketing assets. Having logo variations will confuse and distract your audience and customers.
Spend some time to find something that really works and use it across all of your visual content. Your customers will be much more likely to recognize your visuals in the noise of other brands and content.
Mix and match beautiful colors
I am going to assume you’re not a graphic designer or an artist, so use Design Seeds. This tool will quickly suggest the best color palette based on the images you upload to this website.
Use these colors if you’d like to add a text overlay, create a color block, or anything else you might want to do with it. It’s really sad to see a beautiful image that has a great potential with unsuccessful copy overlay that distracts or doesn’t go with an image.
Create an emotional hook
One of the best ways to really work that visual content is to make it emotional. Strike a chord with your audience by sharing emotionally-striking images that people can relate to.
One of the best ways to really work that visual content is to make it emotional.
Happy smiles, deep eyes, or breathtaking views are some of the most common ways to provoke emotional response in viewers. Yet, be careful not to go after “shock value.” It might not rub well with all of your audience, and you don’t want to get in trouble for inappropriate images.
How to write a perfect Instagram caption
Let me briefly revisit the first point and say that your voice on Instagram should be the same as everywhere else. Those captions have to be authentic to your brand. Now that we clarified that, let’s discuss the length of Instagram captions.
A rule of thumb is the shorter, the better. People are on Instagram to enjoy beautiful imagery, not read paragraphs and paragraphs of text. That being said, your captions should add some value to visual content it accompanies. Clarify what’s happening, bring attention to details by highlighting what you love about this image, or show your humorous side.
The use of hashtags is another huge topic and a matter of discussion.
However, if you are going to put hashtags into the description, don’t put more than three. Where you can put more is in the comment section. Yes, you’ve read it right. Once you publish an image, go to comments and insert your hashtags.
It will accomplish a few things. (Another pro tip I am spilling here!)
First of all, your uploads will be as discoverable as they’d be with hashtags in the descriptions. Yet, it keeps descriptions short and clean. Plus, if you’re going to repost an image on other platforms that don’t support hashtags or makes it look weird, it’s better to keep the copy neat.
Yet, now that you know where to insert hashtags, don’t be too spammy and staff your comments with irrelevant keywords.
Switch photos with infographics and videos
Finally, use a variety of visual content to mix up your Instagram presence. A couple of the greatest tools are infographics and videos. People love to get information in easy, comprehensive ways.
Infographics present information in short pieces that are easy to understand. Videos are amazing because people have a chance to see the exact process for something they’re trying to do, or just listen to your news instead of reading through a lengthy press release written in a dry language.
Learn from the best in your industry
Finally, evaluate what industry leaders are doing on their social media profiles. See what kind of content, and especially visual content, they are using and what gets the best response. What do those images usually portray – do product images, graphics or portraits dominate? Try to mimic these tactics adding a touch of your own branding to them.
Yes, Instagram branding takes time to perfect. However, once you achieve that consistent Instagram look and find your signature style that beautifully blends in into an overall branding, you’ll be golden.
What do you think? Did you find your Instagram style? What are the building blocks of it? Share in the comment section below or head over to Instagram @lesyaliu to continue the conversation.
And don’t forget to download your copy of free and awesome Instagram branding guide!