Instagram is a place that you can express yourself creatively. I am blown away every single day by the creativity and inventiveness that I see. Instagram is a platform where creative expression and business can meet in a powerful way. A lot of small business owners are very overwhelmed by Instagram because they don’t know where to start. They may not be the best photographer, have any physical products, or cute shoes to take an awesome shoefie with. That’s O.K! Everybody can use Instagram for his or her business. Before diving into this post I want to make it very clear that these are guidelines and a good place to start. Always stay true to who you are and what inspires you. At the end of the day that is what is going to make people fall in love with you and your business. So let’s get to it!
I have created a style guide that will help you keep brand consistency and give you a framework to reference to keep your images on brand and focused. Your Instagram account needs to be an extension of your brand. Think about the way your photos look next to each other and how they all look together. Every component matters when it comes to how you portray your company on social media. Instagram is no exception. Whether it’s a picture of your morning coffee, your product, or service, when your photo pops up in someone’s feed they should know immediately that it’s yours. That’s what successful branding is all about!
What's your brand's mood? Is it funny? Playful? Serious? Inspirational?
Think about how you want your company to appear on social media and stick with that theme. Whether it’s funny or inspirational, make your mood clear across all platforms. Instagram is a great place to show your mood through photos and help you connect with clients on a more personal level.
Pick a mood, write it down, and keep it in mind for step two.
2. Color palette
Pick out a color palette. It will help keep your feed consistent and focused. This doesn't mean that you can only use these colors, but it will help you pick photos to post that more or less fit into your color scheme. Another great thing about picking a palette is that you will start noticing these colors in your everyday life, and your pictures will get more consistent naturally.
If you have a website, your base palette should be the one your designer gave you. If you don't have a website or you want a secondary palette, here are some suggestions:
The Hardware Store: I like to go to the hardware store and pick out paint samples. Pick out five to seven colors that look great together. You can carry the paint samples with you or pin them up by your desk as a reminder.
Design Seeds: Design Seeds has gorgeous palettes inspired by photos. Go check them out at design-seeds.com, and pick one that you love! Write out the hex numbers in the boxes provided.
I recommend not using a filter, but if you do pick ONE and stick with it. Editing is a great way to keep your photos looking great together even though the subject matter is different. A filter will help keep consistency sometimes, but they can be very limiting. Naturally some photos will be brighter or darker, so a preset filter may not look the same on each photo. Come up with your own editing technique and that technique will act as your personal filter. I personally edit my photos in VSCO Cam. I sometimes pick a filter and then go in and manually tweak it. I never publish a photo by simply slapping a filter on it though. I will dive deeper into photo editing tools and techniques in a later post in this series.
Instagram is all about story telling. Pick a thread that you can weave through your pictures. It doesn't have to show up in all of your pictures, but it should show up in a lot of them. Some examples are: a background color, greenery, colors, a topic, a process, etc.
Here are 3 examples of Instagram accounts that have strong threads.
First up is @thebannerie. Gilit Cooper sells glittered banners. With a simple glance at her Instagram feed you can pick out her base colors ( pink, white, and gold). Her feed is very bright, fun, and has a sense of humor. Many of the photos are photographed on a white background, so they look very consistent. Her strong threads are color, product styling, and personality.
Another account I love is @younginthemountains. Mariele makes and sells pottery and jewelry. She uses nature (her designs are inspired by nature) and color to keep her feed branded. You see a lot of black, white, and green. Even though the third photo isn't of her product, it fits (in color and theme) with her products.
The last example is a lifestyle blogger @littlebigbell. You can tell Geraldine is inspired by Kate Spade, but she definitely has her own look. It's fun, clean, bright, and gorgeous. She uses a lot of pastel, gold, and black. She has several content topics, but her aesthetic weaves through all of her photos.
5. Types of images:
What types of images are you going to post? Come up with at least three, and write them down. For example, product shots, work process shots, service offerings, and blog posts can be a good starting point. Referencing your worksheet will help spark your creativity and keep you focused when things are busy and you don't know what to post.
If you are going to post quotes or graphics, your fonts need to stay in line with your brand. If you have a website, these fonts should carry over. If you don't have a website, pick three that you like and don't venture away from them.