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.
Creating a Captivating Brand Identity
Image Source: FreeImages
Why Instagram Aesthetics Matter
First Impressions: When potential followers stumble upon your Instagram profile, they form an immediate impression within seconds. An aesthetically pleasing feed captures their attention, making them more likely to explore your content further and hit that follow button.
Brand Recognition: An Instagram aesthetic helps you establish a cohesive and recognizable brand identity. By consistently using specific filters, colors, and visual elements, you create a unique style that makes your content instantly recognizable and reinforces your brand’s image in the minds of your audience.
Increased Engagement: A well-curated Instagram aesthetic enhances user engagement. When your feed is visually appealing and consistent, it not only attracts users but also encourages them to like, comment, and share your content. This engagement can lead to increased visibility and organic growth for your brand.
Reflecting Brand Values: Your Instagram aesthetic should align with your brand’s values, tone of voice, and target audience. It serves as a visual representation of your brand’s personality, allowing you to convey your message, showcase your products or services, and connect with your desired audience on a deeper level.
Standing Out from the Crowd: In a sea of Instagram profiles, having a strong aesthetic sets you apart from competitors. It helps you carve out a distinct niche, showcase your unique style, and differentiate yourself in a crowded marketplace.
Elements of an Instagram Aesthetic
Creating an Instagram aesthetic involves carefully curating various elements to achieve a cohesive and visually pleasing feed. Here are some key elements to consider:
1. Color Palette
Selecting a consistent color palette is crucial in conveying your brand’s identity and evoking specific emotions. The colors you choose should align with your brand’s values and resonate with your target audience. For example, vibrant and energetic colors may be suitable for a fitness brand, while soft pastels might be more fitting for a lifestyle or fashion brand.
2. Filters and Editing Style
Using consistent filters and editing techniques can tie your visual content together and create a cohesive aesthetic. Experiment with different editing apps or presets to find a style that enhances your brand’s visuals and creates a signature look for your feed.
3. Visual Themes
Developing visual themes can add depth and personality to your Instagram aesthetic. Themes can revolve around specific subjects, such as travel, food, or fashion, or be based on stylistic choices like minimalism, vintage, or modern. Consistently incorporating these themes throughout your content can create a strong visual identity.
4. Composition and Layout
Consider how your individual posts interact with each other on your Instagram grid. Pay attention to the composition, arrangement, and overall flow of your content to create an appealing and harmonious layout. This can involve alternating between different types of content, such as quotes, product shots, and lifestyle images, to maintain visual interest.
5. Captions and Brand Voice
While aesthetics are primarily visual, the tone of voice and captions you use also contribute to your overall brand identity. Consistency in the language, tone, and messaging of your captions helps reinforce your brand’s personality and values. Ensure that your captions align with your aesthetic and resonate with your target audience.
How to Create an Instagram Aesthetic
Now that we understand the importance of an Instagram aesthetic, let’s dive into practical steps to create one that reflects your brand’s identity:
1. Define Your Brand Identity
Before diving into aesthetics, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of your brand’s identity. Define your brand’s purpose, target audience, values, and key message. This foundation will guide your aesthetic choices and ensure that your visuals align with your overall brand strategy.
2. Research and Seek Inspiration
Explore other Instagram profiles within your industry or niche to gather inspiration for your own aesthetic. Pay attention to the colors, filters, composition, and overall style that resonate with you and reflect your brand’s essence. Take note of what makes these profiles stand out and adapt those elements to suit your unique brand identity.
3. Choose a Color Palette
Select a color palette that aligns with your brand values and evokes the desired emotions in your audience. Consider how colors can convey different moods and messages. Experiment with different combinations and test them against your brand’s visuals to find the perfect color palette for your aesthetic.
4. Develop a Content Strategy
Creating a content strategy will help you maintain consistency and avoid random posting. Plan your content in advance, considering the visual themes, subjects, and types of content you want to feature. This strategy ensures that your posts are cohesive, align with your aesthetic, and cater to your target audience’s interests and needs.
5. Editing and Post-Production
Use editing tools or presets to enhance your photos and maintain a consistent visual style. Experiment with different editing techniques, but ensure that they align with your chosen aesthetic. Consistency is key, so aim to develop a signature editing style that sets your brand apart.
6. Pay Attention to Composition
When capturing or selecting images for your feed, consider how they will fit within your overall grid layout. Pay attention to the arrangement, balance, and visual flow of your posts. Experiment with different compositions, such as grids, diagonal lines, or color patterns, to add visual interest and coherence to your aesthetic.
7. Consistency Across Platforms
While Instagram is the primary platform for aesthetics, it’s essential to maintain a consistent visual identity across all your social media platforms. Ensure that your brand’s colors, fonts, and overall style are consistent, allowing your audience to recognize and connect with your brand instantly, regardless of the platform they encounter you on.
8. Engage with Your Audience
Building a strong Instagram aesthetic goes beyond visuals. Engage with your audience by responding to comments, participating in conversations, and sharing user-generated content. This active engagement reinforces your brand’s identity and fosters a sense of community around your aesthetic.
9. Continuously Evolve and Adapt
As your brand grows and evolves, your aesthetic may need to adapt as well. Regularly review your Instagram strategy, analyze your audience’s response, and stay updated with current trends and industry developments. Flexibility and adaptability will ensure that your aesthetic remains relevant and resonates with your target audience over time.
In the ever-expanding world of social media, an Instagram aesthetic plays a vital role in capturing attention, engaging your audience, and building a strong brand identity. By carefully curating your colors, filters, composition, and overall visual style, you can create a cohesive and captivating aesthetic that sets your brand apart from the competition. Remember, an aesthetic is not just about looking good; it’s about conveying your brand’s values, connecting with your audience, and telling your unique story. So, take the time to define your brand’s identity, seek inspiration, and craft an Instagram aesthetic that reflects your brand’s essence and captivates your audience.