Today with so many creators, businesses, and brands on social media, it can be overwhelming or intimidating to start (or keep going) building your brand on social media. Whenever I am feeling lost on what to create, the number one reason is because I have strayed from my mission and why, and am consuming too much of ‘what everyone else is doing’ instead of sticking to my lane.
Not only is creating a cohesive Instagram brand one of the best ways to attract your target audience and get more followers, but it gives you the clarity and direction you need to continuously create with the least amount of stress possible. Plans and structure are not here to limit you, they are here to guide you.
But whether you’re new to Instagram and just starting or simply feeling a little lost with your brand on social media, figuring out how to build your brand on Instagram can be a challenge.
So today I’m covering the basics of building a cohesive brand strategy with easy tips on how to create that consistent branding on Instagram to help you grow your account and reach your target audience.
I’ll tell you first, branding is NOT the colors, fonts, etc (this is styling). Your branding is how you make someone feel after they encounter your brand. The colors, fonts, look and feel etc are tools we use to get your audience to feel a certain way when they interact with your brand on social media.
You won’t take any action if you don’t first understand why you are doing it. So first let’s cover why consistent branding matters and what that means.
Consistency in strategy and aesthetics says ‘take me seriously’. Our nature is to immediately start paying attention more to a brand that has put thought and intention to their content.
When someone comes to your page, if they don’t immediately know what you share about, they usually leave. Being consistent on what you share about will give them the information they need on whether someone would like to follow you. So your top posts consistently showing what you share about tells your (potentially new!) follower exactly this.
Focusing on consistency isn’t just for your audience so they constantly receive what they are expecting when they tap that follow button, but it gives you clarity about what to create. How much less stressful is it to create the content you need if its only about a few topics, versus EVERYthing under the sun?!
The more consistent you are, the more trust you can build with your audience. When you consistently serve your audience and they can reliably come to you for certain types of content, you are now building the reputation of your brand. This loyalty your audience forms with you is what really separates you from not just having a business or personal image, but a brand.
Consistency in your content helps create the authority you need to be an expert. And the easiest way to become an expert is to start sharing about it, and sharing it regularly!
So what makes branding consistent in the social media world? The thing is, you, don’t determine that, your users, followers, customers, and audience determine that. If your brand is consistent, that means your audience knows what to expect (because your niche is clear), can identify your content before seeing it is from you (because your style is clear), and come to you for specific topics when they need it (because your expertise is clear).
Now that we’ve covered why branding and consistency matters, let’s dive into some easy and actionable tips you can apply to start posting on brand, and consistently.
Otherwise known as ‘niching down’. The word ‘niche’ intimidated me so much and felt so restrictive. I used to ask myself ‘WHAT IS MY NICHE?!’ and feel lost. So this doesn’t need to feel so overwhelming. Instead, just focus on 3 (no more than 6) types of topics/content.
This not only will make sure you constantly show up and give your audience what they are looking for, but give you the clarity and direction to create content. It’s way less overwhelming to just focus on a few types of things you can share about (instead of trying to post about your entire life or business?!)
As a travel blogger, this could be hotels you stay at, destinations you visit, and food/restaurants you go to when traveling. As a restaurant, this could be food you serve, the restaurant space, and events.
Sharing the same types of content will naturally give your content a similar look.
Shooting with the same equipment (or curating existing images to use with proper credit of course that are shot similarly) will help keep a consistent look to your photos and feed. Especially if this isn’t a strength for you, bouncing from using different cameras and lenses, or using 6 different photographers who all shoot differently will leave your photos feeling those differences.
Take this an extra step and shoot in the same setting or time of day. The more consistent you can be with your foundation (how the images are shot), the more consistent it will look when put all together.
You don’t need to be a master editor to create beautiful photos that are on brand. The easiest way to bring your branding to life (including the aesthetic to portray your brand) is through color. So you can curate your photos you shoot to have these similar colors in them before you even edit so that there is consistency in your photos.
A way to do this is to always take your pictures with a similar background (like a white wall, a white room, etc) or use consistent and similar clothing colors or items. Pick 2-3 colors to focus on and look for ways you can just shoot pictures that have those colors in them.
Now that we have our photos that are similarly shot and with similar colors in them already, we can increase the consistent aesthetic by editing them with the same photo filters. You can use free apps like VSCO, or use Lightroom presets on your phone.
I have my presets for Lightroom for both mobile and desktop available here so you can edit quickly and create a consistent aesthetic easily. Using the same filters and presets not only sped up my workflow for creating content, but was the turning point for me in creating a super consistent aesthetic for my Instagram feed. You can watch my full tutorial on using Lightroom to create a consistent feed aesthetic here.
Planning you content in advance will not only reduce your stress (aka, getting burnt out from trying to create every. single. day) but will allow you to constantly check what you are sharing is on brand and has a consistent aesthetic.
To start planning your content in advance, you can get started quickly by making a list of content ideas in the 3 topics you share about, planning a few days to create or curate/find that content, and then plan out your posts. All you have to do to plan out the content is just arrange and preview your posts before you share them.
I created a little hack to plan out my content in the free Lightroom app and you can watch that tutorial here. I prefer to edit and plan in one app so that I can always check the colors and editing is consistent. Once you have your images mapped out, the aesthetic is looking cohesive and consistent, you can either draft them up in Instagram drafts, or use a plan + post scheduler like Later, Planoly, or UNUM.
Creating consistency in your branding and aesthetic on Instagram, or in your work in general doesn’t happen overnight. In college, I studied at and constantly was trying to figure out my “style” and create a “look”. and The reason it took so long? Because I didn’t have a plan, didn’t get clear on my goals, and didn’t focus on a only a few types of work to create. I had to find my “style” organically by creating lots and lots of art (which means lots and lots of time). I applied this to Instagram and instead came into this with intention, goals, and specific tools consistently. Getting clear about your brand and the tools and guide you’ll use to create a consistent brand will allow you to then show up consistently.
Use these steps to get clarity and direction for building and portraying your brand on Instagram by using your topics and niche to be your guide, consistent equipment and editing to be your tools, and in no time you’ll create your own formula to create consistently and build cohesiveness for your brand and your feed.
Traveler, Content Creator, Influencer, and UI/UX Designer empowering you to explore the world and make money while doing it.