Most brands feel by now that they need to have a presence on Instagram, but the extent to which they establish a clear visual identity on the social media platform can be patchy. Still only a small minority of businesses hire designers to create a feed with a consistent visual message. As a result many of the most creative Instagram feeds are those of designers and agencies.
But some brands are showing how it can be done, using designed feeds to create a brand look. Whether it's through careful use of colour, intervention in the images, or something else, they create an impact and draw eyeballs to the account. On top of that, they also allow the brand to be identified from the visual style without us even needing to see a logo. Here, we look at seven accounts that use unique design to create a brand personality. For more on curating your Insta feed, see our post on how to change the font in your Instagram bio (opens in new tab).
01. Halo Top Creamery
The personality of “healthy” Ice cream brand Halo Top (opens in new tab)’s Instagram feed has been part of its success, helping it expand rapidly despite little advertising. The product is the star of the feed, but it’s presented in an exuberant way that’s immediately identifiable thanks to clean images and airborne packaging on minimalist block colour backgrounds.
Art direction from Peck Design Associates (opens in new tab) and some superb food styling have given the feed the power to stop thumbs and ultimately pinch market share from better-known competitors.
02. Owl and The Pussycat Hotel
For the service industry, it’s more difficult to measure the impact that Instagram has on conversions, and so hotels are yet to fully exploit the possibilities to create consistent visual personalities on Instagram. Many opt for a loosely curated patchwork of user-generated content and their own imagery. They might occasionally throw in shots from an influencer trip but there’s often little guiding aesthetic.
Owl and the Pussycat (opens in new tab), a boutique hotel in Sri Lanka, really stands out from the crowd with a fun feed that runs with the spirit of the Edward Lear nonsense poetry that inspired its name. Designed by Hermana Creatives (opens in new tab), the feed features collages of images, videos and stop-motion pieces overlaid with vintage illustrations, often including magical, almost anthropomorphised animals. The interventions mean that a post from the hotel can be immediately recognised without needing to see the name or logo.
Fashion is logically one of the areas to take most advantage of the visual possibilities of Instagram. Most fashion brands opt for a capsule approach rocking the look of different seasons for a couple of months before switching to a different style, passing through different tones and colours.
Versace (opens in new tab) largely follows this format, but the brand’s #VersaceHolidaySaga saw the feed dovetail with a holiday campaign developed by Sarah Baker (opens in new tab) for something distinct and utterly Versace. Themed like a retro Latin soap opera, the feed playfully sends up the brand's own brash glamour with hazy soft-focus shots of big haired soap stars in storylines that involve treacherous relationships. With captions like “When Jacob proposed, Cairo didn’t hesitate to accept. Little did she know his real motives,” how can you but follow?
04. Tiffany & Co
The jewellers Tiffany & Co (opens in new tab) also designs its feed around capsules, but it always comes back to the immediately recognisable visual content of gleaming product close-ups with tell-tale accents in trademark Tiffany Blue. It’s a great example of how a legendary heritage brand can use Instagram to modernise its appearance and reach a new customer base. The egg blue colour instantly identifies the feed as Tiffany, while a modern edge and storytelling takes the audience deeper into the brand's contemporary world.
05. Lush cosmetics
Lush (opens in new tab) makes great use of often very varied user-generated content intermixed with images of soaps and mud masks, while also heavily promoting causes that the business believes in. It's a varied mix, but strong design in its own posts and close curation bring it all together to create a consistent and credible personality. Cause marketing continues to grow as we enter 2020 and Lush makes it feel genuine through the way it's integrated as a regular feature in the brand's usual posts.
06. Femme and Fierce
This account from women’s clothing line Femme and Fierce (opens in new tab) shows how even the most simplistic effect can create a consistent and recognisable visual identity. Using little more than background colour and interventions around the figures of models and the clothes they’re wearing, it creates something that can be recognised as a brand style.
It’s a nice plus that the style of the interventions in the images nicely follows the line of the micro-interactions on the brand’s website (opens in new tab), creating consistency across the two platforms.
07. Juniper Oats Studio
Juniper Oats Studio (opens in new tab) sells art prints, but its Instagram feed itself merits framing. Its style can be immediately recognised from its jigsaw of asymmetrical cross-grid patchwork puzzles. Every image blends in not only to the frames next to it, but also the images above and below, creating an infinite grid that’s attractive and ingenious. Accompanied by a consistent colour palette, the device becomes the signature of this brand and its main calling card.
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