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five tips to up your instagram branding strategy

Is your Instagram feeling flat lately? Here are my top five tips to making your overall Instagram presence feel more cohesive, intentional, and polished.

Instagram is a great platform for building a business or side project through engagement and marketing. Creating a beautiful grid with intentional design is easier now than ever, thanks to free programs like Canva and UNUM. Newer features like Stories and IGTV are part of the marketing process, but they are more difficult to navigate in terms of branding design.

use custom gifs

One of the coolest new features on Instagram are the animated gifs that can be pasted into Stories. There are so many amazing artists out there who are making their own designs and uploading them publicly on Giphy. These are great as is, but brands can take it one step further. Did you know that Instagram allows you to input your own custom gifs into Stories? If you have a program like Procreate or Photoshop, you can easily make simple frame animations that can be uploaded to Giphy and directly pasted into Stories. My favorite ways to incorporate gifs are by using brand icons, fonts, and colors to make fun, engaging graphics that will draw people in, all while staying on brand.

create story icons and pages

The Highlights function of Instagram is such a cool tool for businesses and individuals alike, because sometimes Stories are important for longer than just 24 hours. Customizing the look of your Highlights reel is one more way to keep the feel of your account consistent as people visit it. Instagram allows you to upload a circular image as the visible "cover" image for a Highlight without even uploading it to Stories. Here's a great tutorial on how to do that. There are lots of designs you could go for, like cool abstract patterns, plain colors, or icons/text. These are changeable at any time and can be exchanged without changing the composition of the Highlight!

Highlights still have some quirks, though, like ordering the reel according to which group has been updated most recently, and the stories inside the Highlights cannot be reordered. If you are new to Highlights and Stories, I highly recommend making matching Stories and cover images so that the first image in the Highlight is its own cover photo. For those of us who have been posting for a long time, this isn't really possible yet, so making do with the circular cover image is good enough!

use consistent branding imagery

If you have a business or blog that does not have a lot of custom photography, a great option to keep your aesthetic consistent is to use free images from resources like Unsplash, Pexels, and Rawpixel. Unsplash has a huge amount of beautiful, royalty free photography from amateurs and professionals around the world. On my account, I've created a bunch of image collections for business "archetypes" like restaurants, health and wellness professionals, and coffeeshops. Pexels has stock video, too, which can be really useful for creating cool content.

Creating a stock pile of images that are consistent with your brand and style is great, because whenever you need a photo quickly, you can just pop it into a design and not have to worry about taking or styling photos.

design custom stickers for stories

Much like you can copy and paste custom gifs from Photoshop or Procreate, Instagram will let you copy and paste "stickers" or images into Stories. These can be jpg images or png images, but I use transparent pngs so that the text or image can sit on top of the content. For example, I like to put a "new post" or "tap here" sticker on top of my grid posts that I share to my Stories. Using stock gifs works just fine, too, but this is an almost effortless way to add another level of branding to your account.

Keep an eye out for a blog post coming soon on how to make these stickers!

use custom story backgrounds

One of the coolest features on Instagram Stories is the option of uploading a previous photo to use as the background of your post. I have about ten Procreate art pieces saved on my phone that will work as nice generic backgrounds. These are great for sharing text, music, or other Instagram-based add ons, because the background is not impacted by those features.

If you want something a little more involved and even more custom, you could also make or buy templates that can hold other images. These are great for bloggers or businesses who take a lot of photos or do a lot of content creation, because they are completely editable. I like to make my custom Stories in Illustrator and use clipping masks to put content into them, but Canva is also a great resource for this.

Creating your own backgrounds and templates can be fun and relatively easy, but if deigning is not your thing, there are plenty of beautiful, paid resources on sites like Creative Market. If you are lucky enough to catch them, sometimes the Free Goods on CM even feature editable Instagram Story templates!

Those are my top five tips on how to inject more consistent branding into your Instagram page. Which one was your favorite? Tag me in your posts @mugglehugstudio and say hello! And if this post helped you, comment below and share it so others can learn, too.

Thanks for reading!


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