Your Instagram aesthetic is the first thing potential customers will notice when they check out your brand’s profile. The colors, layout, tone, and overall feeling of your Instagram page contribute to an aesthetic that can either gain you a new follower—or send them running.
A unique and cohesive Instagram aesthetic is not just visually pleasing, but can greatly improve brand recognition and business success. It will convey your brand’s voice, personality, and help your followers instantly recognize your content when it appears on the feed.
While this all sounds great in theory, actually creating a successful Instagram aesthetic can feel like a vague undertaking. We’re here to help.
Continue reading to discover:
- A step-by-step action plan so you can create an Instagram aesthetic that engages your audience
- The surprising way a cohesive Instagram aesthetic can actually boost sales
- Examples from top-brands with tips and tricks you can apply today
Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps a lifestyle photographer used to grow from 0 to 600,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.
How to create a unique and cohesive Instagram aesthetic
Step 1. Establish your brand
Without clicking on a single post, your Instagram aesthetic gives your audience a sense of who you are and what makes your brand stand out. This makes defining your brand a crucial first step. You might have begun this process already with your website, logo, or bricks and mortar location, but you’ll need to translate your brand over to Instagram in a way that makes sense to your audience.
Here’s a list of questions to help guide you through this process:
- Who is your target audience? When you understand who your content is trying to speak to, developing your brand’s aesthetic becomes second-nature. A luxury pet clothing store in Beverly Hills will have a different audience than a Portland skateboard shop.
- What are your core values? Different brands have different priorities that inform their overall look and feel on Instagram. If you’re a hiking supplies company that thrives on nature and sustainable clothing, for example, your brand’s Instagram page will reflect these values. It doesn’t need to be in-your-face, but can show up through color choices (more on that later), content subjects, and any messaging that’s shared through stylized text posts.
- What’s your vibe? This might sound like a new-age skater dude kind of question, but it’s important to consider. Does your brand like to keep things casual and fun? Or minimalist and cool? Do you use a conversational tone with the occasional swear word thrown in? Or are you formal and composed? These questions can all help establish the type of ‘feel’ you’re going for.
Step 2. Take color seriously
Color is the single most important thing when it comes to creating a unique Instagram aesthetic for your brand.
Research finds that color influences consumer buying decisions by around 85%. Not only that, but color increases brand recognition by 80%. Making the right color decisions for your Instagram posts can actually impact your bottom line.
There are many ways to use the power of color to develop your Instagram aesthetic. If you already have a website, logo, and a presence on other social networks, use your pre-established brand colors.
Once you’ve picked your colors, incorporate them into your content. This doesn’t have to be obvious, but rather a certain tone or color family to stick to. Once you start doing this, you’ll notice how cohesive your Instagram page starts to look. Even if the content isn’t identical from post to post, a uniform color palette is naturally pleasing to the eye and will bring your page together.
Consumers judge a brand within 90 seconds of seeing it for the first time — and up to 90 percent of this judgement is based on color. Make sure your brand colors help shape your overall brand voice. For example, a happy-go-lucky children’s daycare might not want to have a completely dark and dreary feed.
Choosing your Instagram page colors can be tricky, but the following tips can help:
- Create a Pinterest mood board. Start saving Pins that inspire you or are relevant to your brand to a Pinterest board. For example, if you’re a bathing suit company your Pinterest mood board might have photos of the beach, palm trees, picnic scenes, pool parties, and sunsets. Certain imagery will attract you more than others, so take note of any color patterns you see popping up in the content you save.
- Create a color palette. If your brand doesn’t already have a color guide, it’s time to get one. Find six or less colors that you can commit to using throughout your content. Reference this group of colors anytime you create content, whether that’s in the form of a photo, video, or text-based post. Make sure at least one of your established colors are present in your post to ensure your Instagram aesthetic is consistent. If you don’t know where to start, the free online tool My Insta Palette shows you the most-used colors on your feed. If you notice a theme, choose your colors from these selections. As you create content moving forward, stick to your chosen palette.
Step 3. Discover the power of editing
If you’ve ever seen an Instagram page that seems to have all the right components but somehow just doesn’t work, you’ve noticed the power of editing.
The most cohesive Instagram aesthetics will have their editing style down pat. There’s no flip-flopping between dark and moody images and light and bright content. It all looks as if it was created on the same day and in the same light.
The easiest way to ensure your Instagram aesthetic is consistent is by editing your photos with presets. Instagram presets are premade filters you can apply to your photos using an editing program like Adobe Lightroom. You’ll no longer have to fiddle around for hours trying to remember exactly how much brightness you usually add to your photos.
Presets do all the hard work for you. They ensure you don’t spend hours editing posts one at a time.
Get free professionally-designed Instagram presets—and learn how to use them—with our step-by-step guide.
Step 4. Plan, plan, plan
Once you’ve nailed your colors and editing style, it’s time to plan out your Instagram feed. You want your Instagram page to look thoughtful and professional, and planning it out carefully is the way to do that.
When you plan out your feed, you’re able to see what posts look best next to each other—and what posts don’t. You’ll be able to tell where you need another hit of your brand’s dominant color, and where you could stand to add a lighter hued photo to the mix.
This may sound like a time-consuming task, but we promise we wouldn’t do that to you. Planning out your Instagram feed could actually save you time, not to mention enhance your overall aesthetic.
Free tools like Planoly let you drag and drop without actually posting anything until you’re ready. Once you’ve planned out where you want everything to go, you can use Hootsuite’s Instagram scheduling feature to save yourself even more time.
Step 5. Don’t just stop at your feed
You did it. You have a unique and cohesive Instagram feed. You can’t stop here, though.
Imagine if your favorite vegan ice cream place randomly introduced one meaty option? You’d feel thrown off and confused.
If you have a stunning and consistent Instagram feed, but other components on your page don’t match, your audience might wonder what’s going on.
A good place to start is with your Instagram Stories. Once you’ve established your Instagram aesthetic, create a style guide so you have something to refer to when creating Stories content. It will also help anyone else who posts on your account in the future align with your look and tone.
Here’s how to create an Instagram Stories style guide. Using Instagram Stories templates is another quick and easy way to level up your Stories consistency—without making them boring.
Another small change that has a big impact on the look and feel of your Instagram page is your Stories Highlights covers. When you choose colors and icons for these covers that match or compliment your brand colors, you add an extra visually-pleasing element to your profile. Find out how to create your own flawless Instagram Stories Highlights covers or download our professionally-designed premade ones.
Instagram aesthetic ideas
Now that you know how to develop your Instagram aesthetic, it’s time to get inspired.
Recess is a sparkling water brand that has taken what could have been a boring product and made it completely enchanting through their Instagram presence.
The company applies their irreverent and humorous brand voice to their Instagram content in a way that makes sense. With a definite color palette (lavenders, rosie pinks, and light tangerines), Recess shares illustrations, text posts, and creative product shots.
Key takeaway: Don’t stick to one type of content. When you use a cohesive color palette you can share an assortment of content types and themes. Recess shares photos oftheir cans next to a text post sharing a legal message. Because the color palette is cohesive, it works.
Almost Makes Perfect
I follow lifestyle blogger Molly Madfis both for her hilarious sense of humor, and to see how she’s going to incorporate her neutral palette into every post.
While it might be obvious when it comes to interior design posts, Molly is able to bring her neutral color scheme into photos of her son, other subjects of her photos, and her Stories Highlights covers.
Key takeaway: Tie your entire page together. When you know exactly what colors represent your brand best, incorporate them into the rest of your page. The neutral palette of @almostmakesperfect’s Instagram Stories Highlights would look out of place on another page, but blend into her overall color scheme perfectly. A minimal solid color on her Instagram Stories Highlights set the tone for her page.
Hostel and travel company Hostelworld had a challenge on their hands when it came to creating their Instagram aesthetic.
With their imagery focusing on so many different locations around the world and relying on a lot of user-generated content (UGC), they had to find a way to tie all their content together. They came up with a creative solution that many other brands can put to use: a graphic stamp overlay.
Key takeaway: Use a template or add a digital stamp or visual element to your content (the free online tool Canva is great for this). Hostelworld was able to take content that didn’t have much else in common, and add a graphic element that ties it all together. A feature like this makes your content instantly recognizable to your audience, too. Think of it like your brand’s Instagram signature.
When you think of a typical protein powder, you might picture a big black tub with uber-masculine branding. Unico Nutrition is different and their Instagram page reflects that. With diversity at the forefront, Unico features lots of colorful photos, bright and joyful imagery, and a lighthearted vibe.
Key takeaway: Know your audience. Unico knows that their audience is energetic, active, and young. They developed a bright and creative Instagram aesthetic that stands out from most other nutrition supplement brands but still reflects their unique brand voice.
Bohème Goods is an online vintage shop that features used decor, clothing, and accessories. With a very established brand and color palette, owner Sarah Shabacon brings her signature style to the shop’s Instagram page.
Aside from the deliberate color scheme, the consistent editing style adds a sense of instantly-recognizable warmth to the Instagram aesthetic. Bohème Goods isn’t about being blindingly bright, new, and trendy, but rather a refined way of slow living. The page’s editing style reflects this.
Key takeaway: Choose the right editing style for your brand. Even though a light and whitewashed aesthetic is extremely popular amongst interior designers and lifestyle brands these days, Bohème Goods’ knows that isn’t right for their page. The slightly moodier and aged 70s look aligns with the brand better.
Flamingo is a body care company that focuses on hair removal. They have a lighthearted, fresh tone that shows up in their Instagram page.
Selling razors, waxing tools, and personal care creams, Flamingo uses their Instagram page to relate to these products. From there, they’ve developed an individual aesthetic that keeps their product top of mind, but not in-your-face. Rather than just showing countless images of razors, Flamingo uses color and themes to create cohesion.
Key takeaway: Choose a color scheme and Instagram aesthetic that’s related to your product. Flamingo’s use of water and the color blue makes sense for their brand without showing the same boring imagery over and over again. Think about how your customers use your product or service (with Flamingo, it’s in the shower or bath and then before a pool or beach) and what these situations have in common (water, towels, etc.). Once you understand the way your customer is interacting with your brand, you can figure out the colors and images that most accurately represent who you are.
With so many brands on social media, the right Instagram aesthetic can help set your brand apart and stand out from the rest. With the tips and examples above you can establish a unique and cohesive Instagram aesthetic—no design degree required.
Manage your Instagram presence alongside your other social channels and save time using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can schedule and publish posts, engage the audience, and measure performance. Try it free today.