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How to brand your instagram

Your Instagram profile says a lot about you and your brand. This is everything you need to know to make sure it's saying the right thing.

When we first moved to this house I could not stop thinking and talking about this house. I was in between jobs at the time and basically wanted someone to talk to about house stuff. I felt like I was exhausting my friends, siblings and mom, so I turned to Instagram.

For a while I was just posting on my personal account, and then I started posting pictures of my house daily and realized that the people who were following me on my personal account didn’t really care about my house. To branch out and evolve from a personal account to a home decor/DIY/blog/influencer account, I rebranded. 

Lucky for me, I have a lot of experience with branding. It’s my day job! I treated myself like a client early on and put together some goals, brand guidelines, and a quick outline of the kind of content I hoped to produce and got the ball rolling. It’s been a couple years and my brand has evolved, but the steps to starting the branding process are still the same!

1. Define your goals

Start by taking some time to think about what you hope to accomplish. When I first started my goal was pretty simple.

2018 Goal: Share photos of my house projects and grow an audience that actually wants to talk about house stuff with me.

As I have gotten a hang of content creation and comfort in my niche, my goal for being on Instagram has also evolved. I’ve shifted from sharing whatever I was working on to only sharing information that I think would be truly valuable to my audience. Overall I post a lot less (note that growth is not a priority or goal of mine) because I strive for quality over quantity at this time. 

2021 Goal: Share information and insights about home renovations and become a trusted source for all things DIY design.

2. Plan your content

Sharing on Instagram with consistency can be a full time job! Gathering ideas and planning content can help keep you on track. Align your content to your goals and most importantly—work to develop your voice. Just because everyone seems to be doing the next hot DIY project all at the same time doesn’t mean you need to react and jump on the bandwagon. 

I’ve found that creating original content does become easier over time, but mimicry is not a bad place to start. I promise I won’t be mad if you want to curate your own collections of public domain art—just don’t be a clone, okay?! 

PS – This step has taken me YEARS to figure out and it continues to be a work in progress. You’re not going to have a bomb content plan overnight, but it’s a good thing to start thinking about sooner than later as a content creator. 

Elements to a branded Instagram account

3. Choose a handle wisely

Be warned when I say that your Instagram Handle becomes your identity. I have been introduced to people in real life as Collected Eclectic. I also have been called Mother Guinea Pig by a person who only knew me by my Twitter handle back in college. I’m not mad at that identity, but ya know…your chosen name says a lot about you. 

When choosing a name, pick something that says something about you and what kind of content a follower can expect from you. Collected Eclectic stems from how I describe my style, but you can look at so many different facets of what you’re doing to come up with something relevant and memorable for yourself.

You can always change your name later, but it’s kind of a pain in the butt — it’ll likely require another rebrand. The further you go down your Instagram journey, the harder it will be to make a change later as people get to know you and your IG identity. 

4. Draft the perfect bio

I like to think of the bio as a quick elevator pitch. There’s no exact secret recipe for writing the perfect bio, but this is a good place to start:

  1. Include your name & maybe your niche/focus

  2. State your goal / summary of the kind of content you share

  3. Something relatable — we’re all humans after all!

  4. Your location if that’s something you share about, an inside joke you have with your followers, or maybe a branded hashtag! 

  5. A link! Necessary if you have a blog or website!

It’s also important to remember that your bio can be searched on Instagram! So if someone searches for “sustainable living”, I might pop up because that phrase is included in my bio. 

5. Nail the visuals

The visuals cover so much of what Instagram is all about, but let’s walk through it from top to bottom. 

Image of Profile Picture vs Profile Picture Logo

Profile picture 

Your profile picture is one of the first things people will see! It’s right up there in importance with your name—especially if you’re sharing a lot of content through Instagram Stories. 

If you’re a brand, I recommend using a logo mark. If you’re an influencer or a brand that hasn’t developed a well-recognized logo yet, use a picture of yourself! A little glimpse into your personality is ideal. 

Highlights

After the bio, the first thing that a person sees on your Instagram profile is your highlights! 

I think the most important aspect of Instagram Highlights is keeping the most relevant or frequently requested information close to the front and clearly labeled. It’s easy to create a bunch of highlights, but unfortunately that can make it hard for your followers to find things that they are looking for in the future. 

You can keep the look consistent by using icons (I have a huge collection of icons you are free to use!), solid colors, or even some of your own photography. 

Stories 

While we’re on the topic of highlights, let’s touch on stories real quick. You can go through the process of creating branded stories in Photoshop, on Canva or Unfold, or you can simply “brand” your stories directly in the app. Choose a consistent typeface, a specific genre of music, etc. There are a lot of ways to make your stories look and feel like “you” at a quick glance!

And finally…the feed!

Your feed will come together and flow naturally when you understand your brand. A helpful way to jumpstart a cohesive look is to use presets on your photos or at the very least edit in a consistent way. Are your photos blush-tinted, light and bright, or moody? 

6. Room to evolve

The very last trick to staying on brand and true to your voice is a general PSA. As you grow and begin to work with brands, choose to be picky. Work with brands that align with your brand and your audience will be responsive to the sponsored content you share. You’ll attract brands that align with you the more clearly your brand comes across. 

Bottom line: Stay true to yourself and your goals and everything else will fall into place quicker than you might expect.

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