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Ready to build a brand on Instagram?

You want to be recognizable.

You want to stand out from other Instagrammers.

You want to look legit.

You want people to trust you.

You want to build a brand on Instagram.

Your brand.

I’m going to share 15 Instagram branding strategies: from your feed to your captions, Instagram Stories and your key message.

And at the end I’m going to share an unexpected… twist.

Ready?

Let’s start.

1. Your Key Message

Your Instagram branding strategy starts with your “key message”.

Think of your key message as your slogan.

It’s what you stand for.

It’s what people are going to know you for.

Think about this:

What is one word you want people to use when they think about you / your product or service?

Write it down.

Examples of key messages:

  • Fun
  • Easy
  • Fast
  • Useful
  • Quality over quantity
  • No stress
  • Feel beautiful
  • Powerful
  • Relaxing
  • Motivational
  • Expert
  • Friendly
  • Special
  • Balance
  • Happiness
  • Growth
  • Profit
  • Fit
  • Healthy balance
  • Unique
  • Delicate

You get the idea.

In every single post you are going to make: always infuse your key message.

  • Show that it’s easy.
  • Show that it’s relaxing.
  • Show that it’s useful.
  • Show that it’s unique.
  • Show that it drives results.
  • Show that you’re all about achieving a healthy balance.

If you are building your personal brand, stay true to your personality.

Your personality + key message = a match made in heaven.

How can you share your key message?

With your content.

2. Your Content

To build a brand on Instagram, you need to be clear about the content you post.

Action: Choose between 1 and 5 different topics you wish your account to be about.
And yes, you can totally choose only 1 topic. I call these topics “content buckets”.

Here are some examples.

Example 1: Personal Trainer

Key message: Transform yourself.

3 topics:

  1. Transformation: Before and Afters of clients
  2. Workout ideas: Workout videos only (or “Workout with me” videos)
  3. Motivation: Motivational quotes

Example 2: Social Media Manager

Key message: The Power of Planning to Profit

3 topics:

  1. Results: Show your clients’ results (ROI)
  2. Tips and Tricks: Share tips and tricks to show your expertise
  3. About you: Share personal posts to build trust

Example 3: Interior designer

Key message: Create your dream home

3 topics:

  1. Tips and tricks: Write about mistakes to avoid or your favorite designing tips to show your expertise
  2. Sneak peeks or Big Reveals: Show your work
  3. Inspiration: Show photos, videos or moodboard of interiors, places, architecture and texture that inspire you

Example 4: Handmade Jewelry Designer

Key message: Unique pieces for unique moments

2 topics:

  1. Products: Photos of your jewelry with caption describing the ideal gift situation
  2. Behind the scenes: Don’t just say it’s handmade. Show it too. Share photos of you creating the jewelry in your creative space. Or photos of your hands creating the pieces.

Your turn:

What are core topics you can share with your followers?

Tip: If you’re not sure what to post on Instagram, click here. I’ve helped some people figure out what to post on their own accounts in the comments section.

3. Choose a Grid Layout

This is optional.

A Grid Layout can help you design a beautiful feed for your brand.

If you sell products, you can design your Instagram grid based on the colors of your product.

If you share tips and tricks, you can design your Instagram grid based on the topics you cover.

There are 9 types of Instagram Grid Layouts.

Here are some examples of brands using grid layouts:

@skims is using a Row-by-Row grid layout. Each row is dedicated to a specific product color:

@profitforpassion uses a Tiles grid layout. She alternates between a photo and a quote:

@aandssocial uses a “Line in the Middle” grid layout:

Could you use a grid layout for your brand?

4. Use the same filter

This will take your Instagram branding strategy to the next level.

As you know, Instagram is an extremely visual platform.

Creating a cohesive visual – a cohesive Instagram feed – is how you are going to make an impact.

People use Instagram filters and presets to make their Instagram feed and colors look cohesive.

A filter / preset is your visual signature.

It is part of your brand.

Even a simple, natural, filter can make a huge difference to the overall look of your feed because it makes all your photos look like they belong together, as part of the same brand.

Here is an example of a feed using Filter S4 in the “Cream” filter pack. Can you see how soft and creamy the feed looks like?

Action: Use the same filter for all your Instagram photos. You can use your Preview App to edit your photos and preview your Instagram feed before you post on Instagram. The most popular filter packs are: the “Winter”, “Blogger”, “Retro” and “Cream” filter pack.

Filter advice:

  • Natural look: “Cream” filter pack
  • Beauty (nail artists & hairstylists): “Cream” filter pack
  • Clothing / Fashion brand: Cream filter pack + Retro Filter Pack
  • Jewelry brand: “Cream” filter pack + “White” filter pack
  • Baby shop: Filter T5 in the “Retro” pack (used by mom bloggers) + “Cream” filter pack
  • Everyday photos: “Cream” + “Blogger” filter pack
  • Food photos (restaurants): Cream + Blogger filter pack (filter P3)
  • Edgy brand (like fashion): Retro filter pack (filter T3, T4 and T7 are the most popular)
  • Fitness: “Winter” filter pack + “Dark” filter pack + “Moody” filter pack + “ Retro” filter pack + “Teal and Orange” filter pack

5. Use your brand color(s)

Colors are an important part of an Instagram branding strategy.

Make your brand stick in people’s mind: use your brand colors.

Choose one (or more) colors that reflect your brand.

  • It can be a color from your logo, or
  • It can be a color that resonates with your ideal customers, or
  • It can be a color you choose that fits with your products.

Include your brand color(s) in:

  • Quotes
  • Objects
  • Walls
  • Props
  • Clothes

Example 1:
@thecontentplanner has 2 product colors: yellow and blue. You can see they use these colors in their quotes and clothes. Can you see the founder is wearing a yellow dress? #onbrand

Example 2:
@gotoskincare brand color is peach, which reflects their logo. The color appears in quotes, images and products.

6. Pay attention to the background of your photo

This might not be a requirement for your account in particular.

But if you are showing products or sharing video tips, then 100% pay attention to the backgrounds of your photos and videos.

The background shouldn’t distract people.

It should be clean and simple.

Or it should give context to your product (for example if you have a swimwear brand, then take photos at the beach = the beach is the right context for your products).

Bonus: You can keep your background the same to make your whole Instagram feed cohesive, and therefore branded.

Here are some examples:

@giseleblakerdesigns keeps a white background. This way you can clearly see her products:

@pao_note also keeps the same white background for her photos to focus on her outfits:

@theliteraryllama uses the same blue background for her bookstagram feed:

@chupi always uses a pink, grey or beige background color:

@wearepoolside takes photos of their product in context: on the beach:

7. Use the same fonts

If you are going to share quotes: use the same font(s) all the time.

It will make your Instagram look branded and cohesive very easily.

8. Your Instagram Story style

Your Instagram branding strategy goes beyond just your feed.

Pay attention to your Instagram Stories too.

Here is how to brand your Instagram Story:

  • Use the same color(s) all the time
  • Use the same editing style
  • Use the same Instagram Story filter(s)
  • Use the same GIFs
  • Use the same font or font combinations

For example, here is how I would create my Instagram Stories if my brand color was “pink”:

9. Instagram Story Highlights

Your Instagram Story Highlights are one of the first things people will see when they visit your account for the first time, just before they start scrolling on your feed.

Keep them on brand.

Create Instagram Story Highlights that:

  • Fit the colors in your feed, or
  • Fits the colors of your logo

@preview.app Highlights fit the color of our logo:

@kyliekatich Highlights fit the color of her feed:

@blonde_seashells Highlights have a consistent style:

10. Your profile photo

Edit your profile photo using the same filter as your Instagram photos.

Use a profile photo that reflects you.

If it is your personal brand, show your face:

Or show your face with something (or other people) that plays a big part of your life and Instagram life.

For example, @laurenastondesigns is known for taking fun photos of her products with her business bestie: her dog. They are both on her profile photo, dressed in her signature knitted jumper:

Photography tips:

  • Take your photo in natural light
  • Stand in front of a clean background
  • Use a high quality photo
  • Bonus: Include your brand color in the background of your photo (like a wall) or in your clothes

If you have a shop/business: Use your logo.

11. Your captions

We’ve talked about your key message.
We’ve talked about your visual brand.
We’ve talked about your Instagram Stories.

Now let’s talk about your Instagram captions.

Here is how you can brand your captions:

  • Use your brand voice: how do you sound? Funny? Professional? Mysterious? Inspiring?
  • Start your captions the same way all the time (example: Start a caption with a question, a statement, a cliffhanger or a title)
  • End your captions the same way (example: with a call-to-action)
  • Use the same emojis
  • Personal brand: Write as you would talk to a friend

@nistha_trivediofficial starts her captions with a title / header:

@delightinthedesert starts her captions with a witty sentence that relates to her photo:

@blonde_seashell starts her captions with a cliffhanger, which makes you want to keep reading:

12. Create a your own hashtag

Could you create a hashtag that fits with your brand and account?

For example:

Travel blogger @heleneinbetween created a hashtag for each country she visited. This way people can search her hashtags to read her experiences and reviews, country-by-country:

Content Creator @paigearminta created her hashtag #weARMINTAcreate for her community of fellow creativity and photography lovers:

13. Interact with similar accounts

Now that you’re building a brand on Instagram, you need your ideal followers to see your amazing content.

Here’s trick:

  • Find accounts that are related to your brand
  • Leave genuine comments on their posts

Why?

Because their own followers will get used to seeing you in the comments section. They will get curious to see “who is always commenting awesome comments like this”.

They will eventually check out your account.

These will be high quality (potential) followers: people who would actually care about your account.

14. Use the Hashtags related to your Brand

Another way to get your posts seen is to use hashtags.

People search through hashtags to find things and people.

Use 4 types of hashtags:

  1. Location hashtags (if you have a local business)
  2. Hashtags your ideal followers / customers (so you can get closer to them)
  3. Hashtags that describe what you do / offer / sell
  4. Hashtag Combination: Location + Descriptive Hashtags into one (so people can find you if they search exactly for someone like you)

Example:

Let’s say I’m a website designer in Sydney, Australia, and my ideal customers are mom entrepreneurs.

I would use these hashtags:

  1. Location hashtags:
    #sydney #ilovesydney #sydneylocal
  2. Hashtags your ideal customers use:
    #mompreneurs #momboss #momswhohustle #mumswithhustle #bossmom #mombiz #mumbosslife #businessmumnetwork
  3. Hashtags that describe what I do:
    #websitedesigner #webdesigner #webdesign #webdesigner #brandstrategy #branddesigner
  4. Hashtag Combination (Location + Descriptive Hashtags into one):
    #sydneywebsitedeveloper #sydneywebsitedesigner #sydneywebdesign #sydneybrandingstudio #australianwebdesigner

Tips:

15. Be Consistent + Be Patient

And the last tip is: Be consistent and be patient.

Keep talking about what you stand for.
Stay true to your personality.
Post consistently.

Show up.

Research has shown that consistency increases trust.

If you want people to trust you and you want to build meaningful relationships with them, you’ll need to post consistently.

Get into the habit of creating content. And have a ton of fun doing it.

Don’t freak out. Don’t be overwhelmed. It doesn’t have to be stressful.

In fact, the more fun you’ll have, the more you’ll attract people to your account. #FACT.

Here are some tips:

Tip: Be one step ahead. You can use Preview app to plan your posts super easily and quickly.

That’s it!

This is how you start building your brand on Instagram:

  1. Your Key Message
  2. Your Content
  3. Your Grid Layout
  4. Use the Same Filter
  5. Use your Brand Colors
  6. Pay attention to the Backgrounds of your photos
  7. Use the same fonts
  8. Your Instagram Story style
  9. Instagram Story Highlights
  10. Your Profile Photo
  11. Your Captions
  12. Create your own Hashtag
  13. Interact with similar accounts
  14. Use Hashtags related to your brand
  15. Be consistent + patient

The twist:

I have to say it:

Embrace your uniqueness.

You don’t have to follow all of these branding tips to succeed.

You can create your own fun, different, personal, unique brand.

Some of the biggest Instagram accounts (like the awesome @celestebarber with 6.8 million followers) don’t have a brand color, don’t use the same fonts, and don’t use a filter.

But what they always do is, they:

  • Always stay true to their passion
  • Always keep the same kind of captions
  • Always post consistently
  • Always have fun

Now it’s your turn to take action.

Start posting. Start somewhere.

It doesn’t have to be perfect on the first day, all day, everyday.

Progress is 1000% better than perfection.

Go. Go. Go.

And have fun.

Alex

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