Your Instagram Aesthetic: How to Develop a Recognizable Brand Style
When someone lands on your Instagram profile, it should feel like they’re being welcomed and invited to explore your brand. Just when they go to your website or visit your storefront, they should get a sense of who you are and what you do just from the aesthetic you create.
Your Instagram feed may even be the first impression that a potential customer will get of your brand, which makes it all the more important that you convey the right visual message. The colors you use, the way you arrange your images within the feed, the balance of images—these factors all work together to create a certain mood, one that may make people feel at ease or send them running.
That’s why, if you want to make Instagram an effective part of your marketing strategy, it’s important to cultivate an aesthetic that appeals to users and establishes a recognizable visual pattern that they will come to expect from your brand.
But okay, so far, we’ve talked about “creating a mood” and “conveying a message,” but how do you do that through images alone?
There are tricks you can use to create a sense of visual cohesion and spark certain feelings in your audience. That’s what we mean when we’re talking about aesthetics.
Creating an Aesthetic
First off, let’s consider the type of aesthetic you want to create. Do you want your feed to feel light and airy? Or do you want it to feel bright and bold? Or grounded and thoughtful?
How do you know?
Your Instagram aesthetic will determine the colors and filters you use, the layout of your photos, the subject matter, and more, so the first step is to pinpoint the exact attitude you want to cultivate that fits with your brand. You can start to do that by asking yourself a few simple questions:
- Who’s your audience?: If you know who your audience is, you’ll know how to speak to them.
- What words do you use to describe your brand?: Each brand has a unique vibe and voice. Big-name brands spend a lot of time and resources deciding upon the voice that will set them apart and make them instantly recognizable to consumers. That’s why it’s worth taking some time to establish who you are and how you would describe your unique brand.
- How do you want your audience to feel?: When someone looks at your Instagram feed, what’s the primary emotion you want them to feel? Cheerful? Motivated? Thoughtful? Excited? Use colors, images, and text that complement and inspire the emotions you want to fuel in your audience.
Using a cohesive and consistent color palette is the #1 thing that will make or break your Instagram aesthetic.
Sticking to a specific set of colors or even a color family will instantly make your feed feel more polished and visually appealing.
If you have certain colors that you use consistently in your logo, website, creative, and so on, you can make those the basis for your IG color palette. By doing so, you’ll be subtly helping to familiarize people with your brand so that when your post shows up in their feed, they’ll begin to automatically recognize your brand’s content by the colors alone.
A few more tips for using color effectively:
- Consider how certain colors make you feel. Dark blues, purples, and greens generally feel moody and somber while bright oranges and yellows are seen as cheerful and fun. Match your colors to your brand’s personality.
- Don’t worry about being too “matchy-matchy.” Just stick to a general, complementary color palette that fits your brand personality.
- Use a tool like My Insta Palette to find your most-used colors, and consider using that as a starting point for your color palette. After all, there’s likely a reason you gravitated toward those tones in the first place.
- Create a “mood board” by bringing together images from other brands and creators to inspire your own content and guide your choices.
- Consider your subjects and where you’ll be shooting your photos. For example, it’s going to be hard to create an earthy, boho color palette against the dark, industrial backdrop of New York City. It’s not impossible, but you’ll likely have to put more work into setting the scene, which will affect how time-and resource-consuming it will be to create your content.
- Pay attention to how you transition between colors from post to post. One brand that does this well is Sprouts Farmers Market. They typically post somewhere between 6 and 9 posts that are primarily one color before transitioning to a new color. When you go to their feed, the result is a visually appealing rainbow of content.
Filters Create Cohesion
Using the same color palette isn’t the only way to create a sense of visual cohesion, and often, even if you’re using the same colors, the resulting images may look vastly different depending on factors like lighting and contrast.
Thankfully, we can fix it in editing.
Creating a set of editing guidelines will help to ensure that each of your photos will come out looking visually consistent. Depending on your level of editing expertise, using a filter (basically an editing preset), can help you to get the best results in the least amount of time.
Preset filters (like the ones you can find and use on editing software such as Adobe Lightroom) are basically a collection of settings that help to make photos look more visually consistent. They even out contrast, brightness, and so on to create a uniform appearance. Plus, you don’t have to waste hours tweaking values and comparing each photo to your old posts to create that consistency.
Strike a Balance
Just like individual ingredients in a dish, you’ll want to consider how the posts in your feed play off one another. Like chocolate and peanut butter, you want to choose great tastes that taste great together.
On Instagram, we do this by creating a visually appealing balance of photos and images. For example, if you post one image that’s very visually busy (i.e. there are multiple subjects competing for the viewer’s focus), you’ll want to surround that post with some minimalistic images. Also, posts that are very dynamic or have a lot of movement can be set off with others that feel more grounded.
Basically, it’s important to plan ahead and consider how your post will look not only on its own but also in comparison to the images that directly surround it.
Planning ahead and creating a set of brand guidelines are essential steps to cultivating and adhering to your IG aesthetic. That consistency ensures that you attract the right type of person to your business and keep them hooked on your content.
One great way to set yourself up for success is by using a tool like Natter Social to plan and schedule your posts far in advance, which gives you the time to really consider how each post works within your feed. You can see how the posts will look together and arrange them to create an attractive overall aesthetic.
While it may seem like more work to plan ahead, I can tell you that it’s far more effective to set aside time every couple of weeks to plan ahead than it is to take time out of your day to post. Plus, the results will be much better when you’re not in a rush.
As always, if it’s worth doing, then it’s worth doing right. Cultivate an aesthetic and plan ahead to make the most of your Instagram marketing efforts.