Do you know those Instagram feeds that are just undeniably beautiful? The ones that inspire obsessive scrolling through all of those different photos?
They’re incredibly visually pleasing—that much you know. But, when it comes to creating that same look for your own brand, you’ll find that it’s far easier said than done.
Landing on the perfect Instagram aesthetic for your brand’s feed can be challenging. But, coming up with a strategy for how you’ll create those crisp photos and that cohesive look is crucial if you want to grow your following and engage your audience.
So, how can you go about doing just that?
We’re diving into all of the details you need in order to identify and then create an awesome aesthetic on your Instagram feed and across your social media channels with the help of the Sked (formerly Schedugram) visual planner, image editor, and carousel/video scheduling features.
What is an Instagram Aesthetic?
The whole concept of settling on a specific aesthetic for your Instagram account can seem a little buzzwordy or intangible. What exactly does this mean?
For many, it’s easy to think that settling on a particular aesthetic means boxing your brand in. However, as this post for Snapwire explains, it’s important to note that an aesthetic isn’t the same thing as a theme.
“Instead of restricting yourself to a set theme it is best to choose an aesthetic—or overall mood—that reflects the intended personality and tone of your brand,” explains the post’s author, “An aesthetic allows you to post a variety of pictures that share a common ‘vibe’ or feeling.”
Think of it in terms of walking into a store, for example. With the clean lines and crisp white surfaces, you probably get a very different feeling walking into an Apple store than you do walking into a boldly blue and yellow Best Buy. They have some similar products, but their overall vibes are incredibly different.
This same rule applies to your brand’s Instagram account. The style of the photos you curate within your feed say a lot about the overall personality of your business.
How to Identify and Implement Your Own Instagram Aesthetic
That all makes sense, right? But, you’re still left with one major question: How do you go about figuring out what sort of aesthetic works best for your brand and the message you’re aiming to put out into the world (you aren’t Apple or Best Buy, after all)?
Here are a few key tips you should keep in mind when going through the process of identifying your own Instagram aesthetic.
Understand Your Brand
This will be the biggest and most important step in the process of settling on an aesthetic for your Instagram feed.
When you want your account to act as a representation of the overall vibe, voice, and personality of your business, it’s important that you first lay the groundwork and get a solid grasp of the message that you want your brand to convey.
Additionally, you don’t want the appearance of your Instagram account to be drastically different than all of the branded materials you already have out in the world—such as your website, your logo, and your marketing collateral.
For example, if the branding of those existing items uses a lot of black and white with bold fonts, it’d seem strange if your Instagram account was all airy filters and pastel shades.
Of course, that’s not to say that you could never re-brand and change your style. However, it’s important to remember that your Instagram strategy is a piece of the puzzle and should match the overall appearance of your brand—whatever that may be.
Understand Your Audience
When it comes to marketing on Instagram, a big part of understanding your brand also means that you need to understand your audience. What types of content are they most interested in seeing?
In some cases, that’s really easy to discern. But, other times it presents a unique challenge. Here are some tactics you can employ to get some greater insights into your followers:
- If you already have an existing Instagram account, check your analytics to discover your most popular and engaging posts.
- Look at the other more visual social media outlets that your brand uses (from Facebook to Pinterest) to see what type of content is resonating there.
- Look at the Instagram accounts of your competitors or other brands in the same niche. What content are they posting? Would something similar work for your brand? Or, do you want to do something different?
That will help you get a handle on what sort of content you’ll be posting—whether it’s outdoor images or quote images. That will be important for landing on an aesthetic that not only works for your brand, but also the actual photos you’ll be sharing.
All of that will help you to develop a greater understanding of what your brand is all about and how you want to be perceived. But, in terms of visuals, it doesn’t do much in actually helping you to develop a specific appearance.
So, in order to narrow down what sorts of filters, colors, and fonts you’ll want to utilize within your own feed, it’s helpful to walk through this thought-provoking exercise:
Grab a notepad and jot down all of the different adjectives you would like to be associated with your brand. Do you want to be inspiring and uplifting? Moody and mysterious? Adventurous and awe-inspiring? List those all out!
Those different terms will naturally lead to some different visual elements that you can begin to implement with your photos.
For example, one look at the Instagram feed of Taco Bell shows that they want to be bold, bright, youthful, and fun:
What about a brand like GoPro? Their Instagram account gives off more of a daring, adventurous, thrill-seeking, and active vibe:
See the major differences? By doing that adjective exercise, you’re sure to land on some trends and common themes that should shine through in your photos.
Take Note of Accounts You Admire
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And, while you’d never want to flat-out copy someone (seriously, taking photos without attribution is a serious no-no), there’s nothing wrong with extracting some inspiration from the different Instagram feeds that you think are absolutely knocking it out of the park.
We mentioned taking a look at your competitors in the above step. But, this part of the process doesn’t just involve companies that do exactly what you do.
Maybe you love the creative and colorful vibe of Pantone:
Or, perhaps you really admire the people-centric style of Humans of New York and want to find a way to include more people shots within your own feed:
There are lessons and tidbits of inspiration that you can take from accounts that seem even totally irrelevant. So, don’t be afraid to do some digging, see what you like, and then jot those elements down.
By opening your eyes to all sorts of different aesthetics and styles, you’ll increase your chances of landing on one for your own brand that you’re really happy with.
How to Use Sked to Create Your Own Aesthetic
The first step is to use the app’s inbuilt image editor to give your images a consistent and professional look and feel. To start editing, log in to your account and upload an image. Approve your uploads, and click ‘Continue.’ Then, click on the ‘Photo Editor’ icon .
This will give you access to an extensive range of tools and effects. You can crop and adjust the levels on your photos, add text, stickers, and frames to them, and apply a range of filters and more (see the toolbar in the image below).
Once you’ve edited your images to perfection, the next step is to arrange them into an attractive grid using our visual planner.
To do this, go to the home page and click on the planner icon in the sidebar menu.
Once the planner is open, you’ll be able to drag-and-drop your draft posts onto the planner and see exactly what they’ll look like as an Instagram grid as you’re arranging them (see image below). Once you’ve created the perfect grid to show off your unique aesthetic, click on ‘Submit changes’ and you’re done!
Create a Style Guide
Here’s the thing: In order to truly develop an Instagram aesthetic, you need to be consistent. All of your images need to have some common threads tying them together in order to give your feed a more cohesive look.
For that reason, it’s helpful to create a simple style guide that you (or anyone else on your team) can reference when creating graphics and photos.
Your Instagram style guide could be a stand-alone reference document, or it could be a section of your larger, overarching brand guide (if you have one). The logistics are up to you. However, you should be sure to include things like:
- Types of content that you post (i.e. outdoor shots, behind-the-scenes videos, etc. … and don’t forget you can use Sked to schedule videos and carousels to post automatically, just like you would with single images)
- Types of content that you never post (it never hurts to outline the things that people should stay away from!)
- Preferred editing tools and apps you use to edit photos
- Preferred filters you like to stick with
- Brand color codes, in case anyone wants to create an image using Canva or another service
- Fonts that should be used in quote images, etc.
- Hashtags to be associated with photos (Sked’s hashtag manager is the perfect tool for this because you can use it to store and add hashtags in groups).
- Example Instagram photos that people can reference to get a feel for your aesthetic
By having all of this information documented in one streamlined place, it’ll be far easier for your brand to stick to a seamless look on your Instagram feed.
Honing Your Aesthetic: Resources
Still feeling stuck about how to actually achieve the look you want? Have no fear—there are plenty of helpful apps and editing tools that you can use to create Instagram photos that look just like the ones you admire. We’ve rounded up some of our favorites right here:
- Sked (image editor)
- A Color Story
- A Beautiful Mess
- VSCO Cam
Over to You
If you want your brand’s Instagram account to stand out, a killer aesthetic is a must. But, identifying and then fostering one for your own company can be a challenge.
Rest assured, it’s not impossible. It just takes a little strategic thought and prior planning. Walk through these steps and different exercises, and you’re sure to land on a vibe that’s just as unique and attention-grabbing as your brand itself.
To carve out hours in your social media workflow, start by signing up for Sked’s 7-day trial. As an all-in-one social media platform that allows its users to post directly to Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and more, Sked is the first step in engaging authentically with your followers.