If it’s your first year on Instagram, you’re probably wondering how you can create an Insta-worthy feed that attracts a lot of people. After all, the more people that follow you, the more customers you can attract to your brand.
But how do you create an Instagram aesthetic that visually represents your brand? How do you turn your ideal feed into reality? Check out this step-by-step guide to learn all the tricks you need to know.
Step 1: Understand Your Brand’s Identity
An Instagram aesthetic refers to the look and feel of your feed.
You don’t want to make your pictures seem random, so you have to select specific fonts, colors, and filters to achieve the desired look and feel of your Instagram feed. If you’re unsure how to get started, grab a piece of paper and answer these questions:
- How would you describe your brand?
- What are the types of posts you’ll create? Will you stick to the environment or wildlife? Food or fashion?
- What is the visual theme that represents your brand? Are you bold or vibrant? Dark and monochromatic?
Answering these questions will help you figure out your brand’s identity.
Step 2: Choose a Theme
The next step is to choose a theme.
A theme involves a subject matter or niche, and it can also include composition and patterns.
This will help you identify your niche, connect with niche audiences, identify relevant hashtags, and build your following.
Tara Whiteman (@taramilktea) is famous for her stunning Instagram photos in the travel industry.
In an interview with Triple White, she discussed the importance of having a theme, “I like to theme my flatlays – for example, the objects are inspired by the country I have just visited, or I also theme them to holidays like Christmas and Easter. I feel like a theme creates a story for my flatlays, and can unify an image.”
Image source: Tara Whiteman
To identify your theme, think about what you’re passionate about.
Will your feed focus on travel or business? Will you focus on parenting? Find out what makes you feel excited and go for it.
Your theme doesn’t have to be too specific. You can choose a general theme and experiment with the Instagram posts you’d like to include.
Andrea Chong (@dreachong) doesn’t limit herself to a specific color theme. Her Instagram posts encompass pictures that include lifestyle, fashion, sponsored posts, and behind-the-scenes shots.
Image source: Andrea Chong
This shows that themes don’t have to limit you, but can help you define the focus of your Instagram posts.
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Step 3: Find Inspiration
If you can’t imagine your brand’s visual aesthetic, you can always explore various accounts on Instagram. Find accounts related to your niche or based on their aesthetic.
Follow the accounts that can serve as your inspiration. They don’t have to look similar at first, just follow the accounts you want.
Next, ask yourself the following questions:
- Why did I follow these accounts? Did I like their aesthetic? Are they in my niche?
- Why am I visually attracted to these accounts? Do they inspire and motivate me?
- Which Instagram aesthetic would fit my brand or business?
If you can’t visualize your ideal aesthetic, then finding accounts that do, can help you plan the look and feel of your feed.
Step 4: Choose Your Brand Colors
Most brands choose specific colors to represent them. McDonald’s is associated with the color yellow, and gray is the defining look of Apple.
Image source: Medium
These examples prove that color is a crucial part of your brand’s visual identity. In fact, a lot of brands make one or two colors prominent in their posts.
Pantone—the world’s authority in color—incorporates the color of the year in their photos. See the impact of color on a brand’s identity and visual consistency?
Image source: Pantone
Colors can also impact the number of followers you have. When Instagram influencer Hannah Gale based her grid around pink. her number of followers skyrocketed. Once she stopped using this color, her follower growth declined.
Step 5: Create A Style Guide
How do the best brands on Instagram maintain a consistent aesthetic?
They have a brand brief or style guide that contains the colors, filters, types of content and aesthetic they’ll use. This ensures that anyone in the team can have a reference on the guidelines that they should follow when creating posts.
Your brand bible or style guide doesn’t have to be too complicated. It could be a standalone document or a part of a bigger brand guide for your various social media platforms.
Ideally, it should include the following:
Types of content that you post
It doesn’t hurt to write the types of content that you post. This may refer to behind-the-scenes posts, product posts and user-generated content. You can use Sked (formerly Schedugram) to schedule videos and carousels to post automatically.
Preferred Editing Tools and Apps
We’ve discussed that your Instagram feed should ideally use the same fonts, brand colors, filters and so on. This helps you achieve a consistent look and feel throughout your feed. Of course, for this to happen you have to use the same editing tools and apps.
You also need to choose an appropriate font that reflects your brand’s personality. You can check out The Daily Type to get some typography inspiration.
Image source: The Daily Type
Some brands prefer to use specific color codes in their Instagram feed to highlight their brand’s personality and aesthetic. If you have specific brand colors used in your logo, website, and other marketing materials—include them in the style guide.
For example, Glossier’s main brand color is pastel pink, so most of their posts include a shade of pink.
Image source: Glossier
Using consistent filters is one way you can choose a consistent Instagram aesthetic.
Write down the hashtags associated with your brand because these can improve your searchability on Instagram. You can use Sked’s Hashtag Manager to store and add hashtags in groups.
Example Instagram photos
If there are certain Instagram feeds or posts that you use as inspiration, then include them as well. This helps your team members get a feel for the posts that would look great on your Instagram feed.
Brand Voice and Tone
The copy alongside your pictures plays a crucial role on how target audiences respond or engage with your brand. Are you funny, witty, formal or serious? Don’t forget to describe your brand’s voice and tone in your style guide.
Brands like Denny’s have amassed a loyal following thanks to their posts that have fun and witty captions and visuals.
Image source: Denny’s Diner
By having all of this information in one guide, it’ll be far easier for you and your team to maintain your Instagram aesthetic.
Unless you’re traveling and your backgrounds are mountain ranges and amazing towers, you’ll probably need to determine the background for your photos.
A good tip is to choose a color that represents your brand as the background. That way, your feed will look visually consistent.
Old Navy’s feed uses yellow and other bright colors as backgrounds since they want to achieve a fun and youthful aesthetic.
Image source: Old Navy
Borders are great.
Not only can they make your feed look clean and pristine, but they also add the illusion of space. They can also make your feed look visually consistent, especially if you don’t use similar colors in your Instagram posts.
We’ve written about the different types of borders extensively in another post. You can use any type of border, but it’s highly recommended that you stick to one type of border throughout your Instagram feed.
If you don’t want to stick to a single type of border, you can try the rainbow feed, in which the color of the feed changes as time passes. To slowly transition from one color to the other, most Instagrammers use the color wheel.
They then pick a core color. If it’s the color dark blue, they’ll gradually transition to the color violet as more posts are published.
The Cheerful Chica (@thecheerfulchica) is one of the most dedicated followers of the rainbow feed. For every post. The color slightly changes and transitions to the next color in the color wheel. In the image below, she started with pink, which slightly fades to make way for the next color—brown.
Image source: @thecheerfulchica
Of course, borders require a little bit more effort, but they can make your aesthetic seem more consistent.
Step 6: Make Your Aesthetic Come to Life
Creating an Instagram aesthetic involves more than just visualizing it in your head. If you create your own photos or work with a team, you need to come up with a plan.
You have to create photoshoot concepts, plan post types, shooting locations and props you’ll include for each of your posts. You can sketch the post and have samples of similar Instagram photos to help visualize its look and feel.
A good tip is to put yourself in the viewer’s point of view:
- How is your composition unique?
- How would your viewers feel by staring at the photo? If you were scrolling on your Instagram feed, will it grab your attention?
- Where and when will you conduct the photoshoot?
- What is the lighting equipment that you’ll need?
- What props will you add to make the theme and color scheme reflect your aesthetic?
Answering these questions will help you concretely plan an Instagram photoshoot.
Don’t forget to shoot multiple photos at different angles. This way, you and your team will have a lot of options to choose from.
Step 7: Editing Instagram Photos
The best way you can create a cohesive Instagram feed is to stay consistent in the editing process. Choose the same filters, fonts and other editing options.
Instagram has a lot of editing tools you can use. If you feel limited by their editing options, you can explore third-party apps like:
1. To schedule a post so it publishes automatically with Sked, log in to your account (or get started with a 7-day free trial) and click on Upload Posts (see below).
2. Then, select your account(s). Sked gives users the power to schedule their content across Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and (soon) Twitter.
3. Choose your posting format in the ‘Upload Media’ section. Upload your chosen image(s) or video(s) from your computer, Google Drive/Photos, Dropbox, an Instagram URL or Canva. Click ‘Continue.’
4. After reviewing and editing your photos with Sked’s Magic Crop and Photo Editor, click ‘Continue’ to complete your post.
5. Next, fill in your caption, hashtags, and tag users, locations and products. If you’ve chosen to post to more than one channel, you’ll have the option to set a base caption that will apply to all account posts.
6. Lastly, add the post to your Drafts, Queue or schedule it to go out now, or at a later date. Click “Create Posts,” and Sked will take care of the rest.
Step 8: Create Balance on Your Feed
To balance the look of your feed, space out your photos and organize them based on color. Place busy photos next to minimalist photos or mix them up in terms of subject or background.
If you’re a business, you can achieve balance by adding different types of posts to your Instagram feed. You can post product photos and place them alongside behind-the-scenes photos and product videos like Tesla.
Image source: Tesla
Adobe creates balance on their Instagram feed by placing photos with various objects and colors, alongside photos with minimalist elements. Photos with similar colors are also not placed next to each other, which helps create a contrast between the images. As a result, their feed looks balanced.
You can use Sked’s Planner to visualize how your images will look in your feed. Simply visit the home page and click on the planner icon on the sidebar.
After that, you’ll be able to drag-and-drop your unpublished posts onto the planner to see how it’ll appear on your Instagram feed or how to arrange them.
Once you’re satisfied with your feed, click the “Submit Changes” button.
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Step 9: Maintain Your Instagram Aesthetic
These days when you hear the word Instagram aesthetic, it refers to both your brand’s feed and Instagram Stories. You’ll obviously want to ensure that your feed and Stories’ colors, fonts and so on—visually represent your brand.
Maintaining your Instagram aesthetic isn’t rocket science. It can be as simple as using the same background color or fonts.
For example, Glossier’s Stories target its young fans. It features product demos, tips, new products, and real customers. They don’t use fancy fonts or epic photographs, instead, they highlight the user’s experiences.
Image source: Glossier
You might notice that they often use the same font and their brand’s main color—pastel pink consistently. This makes it feel like a fun Glossier scrapbook that customers can put together.
Another way you can create a visually consistent Instagram aesthetic is to stick to a theme or topic, like “environment” or “fashion”.
For example, National Geographic is famous for its passion for the environment. Their feed and Stories reflect this through visually consistent images and videos of wildlife and unique locations.
Image source: National Geographic
By creating stories that focus on similar themes, they build a consistent visual narrative around their Instagram brand.
Over to You
Making your ideal Instagram aesthetic come to life definitely takes a lot of work.
When you look at a brand’s recent posts and compare it with their post from a year ago, you’ll notice that their visual style changed or evolved.
This means that it’s okay not to be a pro designer or photographer if you’re just getting started. It’s okay to be a beginner and to improve your posts as time passes.
Don’t be afraid to try different things.
Experiment with filters, frames, and colors every few weeks or months. Shoot photos at different angles and find out what works best. The more you post, the more you can understand which tools and effects look good.
Just focus on mastering the basics and making the best Instagram posts every single day.
As your visual aesthetic evolves, you’ll begin to notice the mistakes you made in the past and improve your style.
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.