We know the Creatively Squared community loves Instagram and with 700 million people now using the platform, you’re not alone.
Building an audience is not easy in such a flooded space, but developing a strong visual brand strategy for Instagram is the key to setting yourself apart from your competitors and helping you grow.
Just think about the last time you scrolled through your Instagram feed and knew exactly whose image you were scrolling past, without even reading the name of the account. That’s no accident - that’s excellent branding, and something you can start implementing right away.
Most large accounts attribute brand strategy as their top driver for Instagram growth (coupled with a tight hashtag strategy and killer content!). Any pro Instagrammer will tell you that an Instagram planning app is the best way to nail your brand strategy and help you stay consistent and organised.
If you’re still working out the finer details of your Instagram account, here are 5 reasons why your brand plan needs to be the next thing on your to-do list.
1. If you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no-one.
Whether your account is personal or for business, understanding your brand also means understanding your audience, the special person that you are talking to and the special way you speak directly to them.
Your brand isn’t going to appeal to everyone (and that’s a good thing!), so make sure you focus on your ideal person. The topics your brand talks about, and the way your brand talks about them are major parts of your brand strategy, and should appeal to these people.
If you try and cover too much by speaking about every topic and using every type of imagery (unedited travel pics, your cat, a selfie, what you had for lunch) under the sun, then you’re going to lose followers quickly because there’s nothing consistent for them to relate to on your account.
2. Branding recognition is subconscious
On Instagram, image branding is huge. Choosing a theme or color scheme that you like (one that you believe your target audience will also love) and staying consistent is a huge part of nailing brand recognition.
@lizzie_darden is an incredibly popular Instagrammer and the branding she chose is incredibly youthful, fun and playful and attracts attention from like-minded brands.
Her cute, mostly-centered images on pink backgrounds are so identifiable, you know it’s her as soon as she appears in your feed (usually featuring a sugary sweet product she’s made into creative content!)
3. Consistency isn’t constrictive, it’s constructive
Consistency doesn't mean you have to post the exact same thing over and over again. Instagram is a creative platform first and foremost, and posting boring variations of the same thing will do you no favours.
What will work is having a selection of colours, themes and ideas that all fit within what you want your brand to be. This not only makes life easier for you to create and post content, but for your audience to recognise you too.
Choose a colour scheme and a filter (or editing guidelines), and stay within the same family of content ideas. Don’t be afraid to experiment though - just be sure to watch your analytics closely (like the Performance Metrics in Plann) and you’ll soon see what your audience likes the best.
Once you’re onto a winner, I highly recommend creating and printing a brand moodboard for your wall so if you ever have confusion about what to post, you have a handy visual reference. This is also an easy way to make your workspace just that little bit more inspiring!
4. Being organised is the easiest way to nail your brand
Lizzie uses the app Plann, the best Instagram planning app (in our humble opinion) to ensure she stays on brand, while also creating a beautiful feed. Instagram planning apps allow you (and kind of force you, in the nicest way possible) to be super organised, and ensure your visual brand and tone of voice are consistent across your feed.
Plann lets you drag and drop images around in your feed to easily curate your brand on Instagram. It’s also a scheduling tool, so you can draft captions and store hashtags as well as set reminders for when to post. You can upload up to 120 images and plan in advance, so sitting down to sort out your feed weekly or monthly is super easy.
So for example, you’ll notice that Lizzie doesn’t always use pink backgrounds, she mixes it up by adding a purple, or white (still on brand), for every 3-4th image. Using an Instagram planning app means she can strategically organise these images to ensure her branding remains consistent but creative, with enough difference to remain interesting but still so recognisably hers!
5. Nail your brand, and they will come
Once you’ve established a brand, you’ll start to notice other Instagrammers that have a similar voice or creative direction to you in the world of Instagram. Followers of theirs are more likely to become followers of yours, and you can definitely use this to your advantage.
Engage with those already following similar accounts, reach out to feature accounts or even talk to account holders about collaborations to cross promote on each others social media accounts.
Once you have an established brand, people will know what to expect from your account just from glancing at your feed. If they look what they see (and why wouldn't they?), they’ll want to follow along.
So go forth and brand!
Christy Laurence is the creator of Plann, an award winning Instagram strategy app.
With over 10 years in digital marketing strategy (and a content creator herself), she understands the importance of a strong brand presence. Christy left her day-job and decided to pour her energy into helping thousands of Instagrammers around the world curate and design effective Instagram businesses.
You can connect with Christy directly at @plannthat
For more information about Plann, plannthat.com