Your Instagram theme is essential.
Have you ever seen a billboard, TV commercial, or magazine ad that reminded you of something? You can’t quite put your finger on it so life resumes and you forget about it.
Suddenly, while doing something unrelated, you remember. It reminded you of the way your favorite photographer (OR insert anything else here EG brand, blogger, soft drink, etc) creates content and imagery.
Other times, it doesn’t take so long to draw those pleasant associations. As soon as we see the billboard, the TV commercial, or the magazine ad, we know exactly what it reminds us of.
In either case, something important is going on. We’ve associated that brand so strongly with a certain style that whenever you see it in the world, it comes to mind. As a brand, it’s the perfect position to be in.
That’s what a cohesive Instagram feed – courtesy of your theme – does when you get it right.
Your Instagram theme is more than choosing quotes and throwing them on a pretty background. It involves the colors you use, the filters, whether you post landscape photography, in action product shots, or minimal photos with tons of negative space.
Individually, these elements don’t mean much. Together, they make up your theme.
Let’s dive into how you can create a cohesive them for your page that increases engagement, builds brand awareness, and drives revenue.
Color palette and fonts
When you first thought about the brand you want to build, many things went through your mind. You thought about the logo, the tone, your fonts, your audience, and your colors. With your Instagram theme, you also need to think about the predominant colors you’ll be using.
Coke, of course, uses a ton of red which serves to keep you focused, energetic, and happy.
Colors elicit certain emotions in us. Dark gritty colors make us moody, while bright colors make us carefree and happy. The colors you choose will, of course, represent and reinforce the mood you want your brand to convey.
Other colors make us think of luxury and sophistication while some colors are too garish for your brand.
Drybar isn’t afraid of speaking with personality or using their brand colors in their images. They’ve been able to utilize yellow without being too loud. A feat in itself.
When deciding on the color palette for your Instagram account there are a few things to take into consideration.
- How do you want people to feel when they land on your profile?
Do you want them to get a lift and feel happy or do you want to them to feel somber and grounded? Do you want them to think of luxury and prestige or are you more concerned with societal issues? Your colors determine the mood they’re in when they visit your profile.
- What are your brand colors?
You don’t have to use your brand colors exactly, but you should incorporate a variation or complimentary colors. This lets people know they’re in the right place and puts them in the right frame of mind to interact with your brand. You can use an app like Paletton (http://paletton.com/) or Coloors (https://coolors.co/) to find great color combinations.
Mary Costa uses bright colors and pastels perfectly and has built an enviable body of work on Instagram. The colors she uses makes her feed bright and inviting while giving you a lift.
- How will you use those colors?
It’s one thing to choose colors and another thing to use them effectively. Will you create quote images which only use a specific background color? Will you incorporate items in your images using the colors you chose?
Erin Lovato has an engaging Instagram account which focuses on her Southern Oregon home. The pictures are moodier and have a generally mute tone. They still capture the beauty of her community.
You’re free to mix and match colors as you please. Just make sure they’re easily recognizable as belonging to your brand so when people see it, they’ll think of you.
Fonts are also an important part of the equation. They identify your brand. If you plan to ever use quote images or write text for a promotion, a consistent font will go a long way to creating a cohesive feel.
You should also tag your images with your Instagram username so people will be able to identify your work. This should be a small tag in the corner that’s barely noticeable and won’t interfere with the image in any way.
If your brand’s font is bold and stands out you can also use it on Instagram. If not, choose one or two fonts that are easy to read.
Filters and editing are the next step after choosing a color palette. Instagram comes with pre-built filters that make your images brighter, grungy, moody and everything in between. This can become a signature for you and your brand.
As opposed to using the standard Instagram filters, create your own style of editing. Don’t overthink it. It can be something as simple as turning the contrast down on your images or turning up the saturation.
VSCO is a great app to find presets for this. You can use their prebuilt filters or create your own and save it for whenever you want to edit a picture.
Spacewheel doesn’t stick to a certain color palette, but they do curate a similar photo style. It’s a darker surreal tint that adds depth and emotion to their images. They’re easily identifiable whenever you see their images in your feed.
Kim Kardashian also creates a familiar feel for her images by using the same filter and editing process most of the time. Although this isn’t a standard Instagram filter, it works well for her. When you see her images in your feed, you’ll be able to quickly identify them even if she’s not in it.
The angle of your images and aesthetic
It’s about attention to detail. At first, people won’t notice you shoot images from a certain angle or a certain way.
That could be from the side, in front, from above, or behind. Over time, they’ll begin to notice and follow you because of it. You don’t have to shoot from a single angle. You can test out two or three and make them your signature.
As the name implies, Onmybed curates images taken on their bed. They create beautiful arrangements of products and always shoot them from above. The clean whites, empty space, and aerial shots have given this account a unique signature.
Can you shoot images from above?
Does your brand lend itself to using silhouettes?
Would you rather have a person in every single image?
Are all your images of someone playing an action sport while the camera is horizontal?
The choice is yours, choose a few aspects or angles to focus on and own them.
Aesthetics can be difficult to pin down and describe. It’s the overall image style you adopt.
For example, you can choose to use large amounts of white space and have the subject of your image centered. You can choose to create busy images that reflect the vitality and energy you help your customers achieve.
You can choose to have grainy images or darker images. Every individual element that makes up your image combines to create the aesthetic.
The subject is the focus of your image.
We touched on this a bit in the last section, but let’s look at it in more detail here. Say you have a watch brand, we have a watch brand, and your friend has a watch brand. That’s three high-quality watch brands competing against each other.
Of course, your watches will be in most if not all of the pictures. It’s expected. To get attention in the crowded landscape that is Instagram, you’ll need much more than a plain white background.
How do you differentiate yourself?
You could do like Daniel Wellington.
The majority of their images incorporate their watches from an aerial view. More than that, the images don’t focus on the watch itself. Rather, they highlight interesting workspaces and arrangements that show the work/life balance of their ideal customer.
They let you know how Daniel Wellington fits into the whole. It’s a natural part of your life as opposed to the main attraction.
Can you do the same? Give your products and services a secondary position that compliments the whole rather than being the focus of the entire image?
Lord Timepieces takes a different approach. Where Daniel Wellington plays down the position of their watches in your everyday life, Lord Timepieces dominates it. They create image arrangements in which their timepieces are front and center.
The colors they choose blend with the watch faces and strap of the particular model on display. It produces harmony. With a direct approach like this, there’s no doubt in your customer’s mind about what you’re asking them to do. Buy a watch.
Does your product lend itself to taking up a prominent position in your customer’s life and Instagram feed?
Armare takes another approach to create a compelling Instagram feed. They rely on imagery that highlights their watches in use. The models they use give the impression of user-generated content.
Armare shows the watch strapped to the wrist of businessmen, thrill seekers, and fashionistas. Every time they show a different type of person wearing their watches, they open the door to a wider audience.
Can you do the same? Do you have a product that perfectly lends itself to in action shots? Anything your customer orders from you and has to physically use is fair game.
When you’re creating your theme, don’t feel like you’re forced to choose one now and use it forever. On the contrary, you can change it as often as you want. What you need to consider is whether those changes will positively or negatively impact your brand.
Image arrangements for a compelling Instagram theme
You’ve probably seen interesting arrangements of images on Instagram. There are many different types.
You have the checkerboard.
You have the grid.
You have the split image grid (9×9,6×6,1x2x1)
Some of these can work well for you and others should be avoided at all costs. Even though they look good when they’re in the right position, remember that your followers don’t usually click through to your page.
Instead, they interact with your images in their feed. If you break a single image into six and upload them to your profile, they’ll appear in your followers feed as a disjointed elbow, or phrase, or piece of your product.
They get poor engagement and if the person seeing it doesn’t click through to your profile then they’ll never know what you’re doing. Another problem with this type of image arrangement is that it’s difficult to keep together.
Let’s say you create an image grid with six separate posts (6×6). You upload them to your page together and they look great when you view your profile.
What happens when you upload another image? It’ll destroy the beautiful effect you created. Unless you’re going to upload images three at a time for the life of your account, this isn’t the best way to go.
A better strategy is to take advantage of vertical image alignments. You can combine 2-3 vertical posts to create a single image. This layout is known as 1x2x1.
On Instagram, the top image always coincides with the one below it. If you upload the first part of the image, upload two more images, and then upload the second part of the image as the fourth post. They’ll be perfectly aligned.
Even if you upload another image the arrangement you created will stay intact. This process doesn’t work for horizontal arrangements.
If you’re keen on using a nice arrangement for your profile, we suggest you use a variation of the checkerboard. It’s easy to work with and you can test different styles with relative ease. Each picture fits into the whole and also stands on its own.
In the above example, the checkerboard was created using image quotes and solid color backgrounds. You don’t have to go that route. You can create your own checkerboard using any number of factors.
You can use a different type of image EG landscape and portrait.
You can use different colors to differentiate between images.
You can even use different filters and editing to differentiate between images.
Together, the elements work to make your Instagram feed cohesive and unique. When people see similar images, colors, or arrangements they think of you. Your brand occupies top of mind position.
An Instagram theme is straightforward when you know what you want but it has numerous benefits.
It allows you to create content that’s always recognizable to your fans while creating stronger brand recall.
In addition to that, it gives your content a professional appearance and greater engagement. Always be sure to consider the way you create your images and the positioning as relates to all to content on your page.
When in doubt, look at what you’ve done before or create a simple style guide.