By Steven Borrelli, Founder & CEO of Cuts Clothing
What’s the first thing you notice about a brand’s Instagram post? It’s not the caption or the hashtags. It’s the imagery. A strong image catches your eye, and a good image pulls you in to the post to learn more. For customers, engaging with a post is often the first step toward making a purchase; for brands, this is why having a strong set of aesthetics in your digital marketing campaign is so important.
Acing your aesthetic
“Aesthetics” are defined as a set of underlying principles that guide the work of an artist or movement. So, when choosing an aesthetic for your brand, it is vital that you align the look with the principles behind your business. For example, if your business is all about creativity and imagination, maybe your design principles are more light-hearted and colorful. Or if you’re a tech company, maybe your branding is sleek and futuristic. Either way, look at the DNA of your business to create a set of design principles around your core competency, and use those to guide all elements of your digital branding — especially your Instagram. In today’s world, social selling can make or break you, so arm yourself for success.
My brand, Cuts Clothing, makes minimalist, modern t-shirts for men. Our position is that we’re providing a quality staple for men who are always on the go, who are stylish, versatile and who are ready for anything. We’ve created an aesthetic for Cuts to reflect the products we make and the philosophy behind them. Think: simple, clean, darker color palette contrasting with modern white, stylized shoots, modern-looking models. We make sure this is reflected in all of our branding and imagery. Ideally, one quick glance at our Instagram grid will give this impression. As a marketer, you want to strive for your social look to be cohesive. You want to create a digital environment where someone can easily equate or identify an image as on-brand for your brand, even if all captions, hashtags and copy were to be removed.
Promoting product within your design principles
An easy way to incorporate on-brand content into Instagram is with stock photos. A few of these that match your feed here and there are fine, but some marketers make the mistake of filling their Instagram totally with images unrelated to their product. They might be pretty images and they might fit the aesthetic of your page, but at the end of the day if you don’t post your products, how can anyone be persuaded to purchase? The key to promoting products on your Instagram is to make sure the images are aligned with the aesthetic you have chosen. If you’re a shoe company and you’ve chosen a pastel palette with soft editing, don’t post an image of your shoes on a black background. Set up a photoshoot with models, props and locations that will fit in your feed. For me, shoots that show how my shirts should be worn, in settings that relate to the millennial man, are effective since customers can imagine themselves in that very situation. It’s easy to pop them in our Instagram feed since we pre-planned the theme, color palette and editing technique. –>
Another way to promote your product is by posting user-generated content, or UGC. Once your aesthetic is established, true fans of your brand will naturally want to replicate it for their own feed. They’ll style photos and posts that, with permission, you can reuse on your own feed – and they will love the shoutout. You can encourage the creation of UGC with call-to-action posts on your Instagram story, or in the caption of a photo.
At the end of the day, your Instagram should be as on-brand, authentic and cohesive as possible. Your page should feel both carefully curated and welcoming – a vibe that a good aesthetic creates, and a vibe that will amplify your digital marketing strategy.
Steven Borrelli is the Founder & CEO of Cuts Clothing, an LA-based brand that creates minimalist, quality t-shirts for modern men. As a startup founder, Steven has experience in all aspects of business, but is especially passionate about branding and marketing.