Branding is one of the biggest buzzwords when it comes to design and marketing and has put an enormous amount of pressure on businesses, both big and small, to create the perfect image that best represents a brand.
In a competitive market where there are so many companies fighting for the attention of customers, these businesses are under more pressure than ever to carefully construct and create an immediately recognisable identity, whether that be in the digital space or in the real world.
Instagram is a social media powerhouse, with more than 600 million users logging in every month. As visual media begins to gain in popularity exponentially, Instagram provides entrepreneurs with the ability to grow and promote their brand, and its identity, more effectively than ever before.
Immediately recognisable branding is more important than ever before as people and consumers have shorter attention spans than ever before. Multiple studies have found that it only takes audiences a sheer 50 milliseconds to make a snap judgment and form a fully constructed opinion on a website.
Google has also carried out a similar study that had evidence to show that audiences have an even smaller attention span, reporting that it only takes a speedy 17-50 milliseconds for people to decide how they felt about a website. These statistics are extremely valuable to brands and how they approach their brand identity.
Social media platforms such as Instagram have forced businesses and companies to develop and expand their brands and broaden their branding strategies to digital mediums.
Although there are large companies that invest millions of dollars to do so, many smaller companies simply don’t have the right budget or resources of people who are able to efficiently develop successful branding campaigns across these mediums.
However, there are techniques that smaller companies with fewer resources to promote their brand in order for them to compete. Instagram is one of the best social platforms that brands can utilise to attract a new customer while connecting with existing customers to build a loyal support base. This free access to customers can also come at a great cost. Users can easily, and immediately identify a brand’s aesthetic and identity.
Even before the emergence of social media platforms and their exponential growth in popularity, resourceful marketers had already known the importance of branding. It is not new news that a well-executed and designed website can trigger an emotional response in audiences and can even lead to real monetary conversions.
In recent years and the expansion in knowledge of branding and social platforms, it has also become known that audiences and customers place a higher value on aesthetics rather than bargains, making the brand and visual allure of a business more important than ever before.
Now more than ever, brands have become aware of, and have begun to work on their emotional appeal through Instagram profiles that have been thoroughly thought out and strategized.
For smaller brands that do not have a dedicated 15 person team of digital content strategists, they can begin to create a brand identity by using applying uniform filters in their posts and adhering to colour palettes, however, these extremely basic efforts are mostly unsuccessful and ineffective. Creating, representing and implementing a strong brand identity requires much more than applying a common filter.
A sophisticated, well-developed and executed brand identity resonates with audiences and can even encourage them to evolve into customers.
By evoking an emotional response from audiences, it can even push one-time customers to become regular, returning customers. Building an effective brand identity on Instagram demands consistency. Here are some of our best tips for a business to ensure that their Instagram is cohesive and presents their brand identity.
Develop a clear profile
An Instagram profile is some of the best capital for a business when it comes to social media channels, so it is best to take advantage of the large volumes of traffic that pass through on a daily basis. A business should approach their development on Instagram in a similar way to which they would develop a website and that is what a clean and concise plan of how and in what ways the design will establish a strong brand identity.
The three essential areas that should be the main point of focus for a business when creating their profile should be their profile photo, description or bio, and the URL link.
As Instagram is a purely image-focused social platform, it is essential that a brand’s profile image is the best representation of their identity and is easily recognisable. If a business decides to use a logo for their profile image, it is important that the logo is consistent with the logo on their website and other social platforms. Consistency is key.
A profile description and bio are the first points of contact to tell new potential followers who the brand is, what they are about and most importantly, what type of content they should expect to see if they decide to hit follow. When it comes to a profile description and bio on Instagram, a business should think in terms of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).
It is important for a brand to make use of the right and most relevant keywords so that an audience can know what the brand is all about. The 3 biggest hints that we can offer is to keep the bio short, sweet and to the point.
For a brand’s Instagram profile, their bio should be all about managing the expectations of their target audience. If followers are misled or have any reason to believe that the posts are unpredictable, then the chances of gaining new followers decrease dramatically.
Every piece of content on a business’s Instagram should reaffirm their brand and message. This is why it is so important for a brand to make clear distinctions about what they want to know known for and what they would like to gain from their Instagram profile whether that be to gain new followers, increase their engagement with their existing followers or to widen their exposure to other brands.
Building a brand identity can also be valuable for businesses that are seeking to recruit young talent. Instagram is an ideal platform to showcase that a company is a fun and inspiring place to work for potential new employees. The type of content that a business should pursue to feature images of current employees engaging in interesting and inspiring activities.
Create consistent and engaging content
With the fast-paced lifestyle that we all lead and with audiences having shorter attention spans than ever before, the time has become one of the most precious commodities, which is why businesses and brands are relying on images to convey information more than ever before.
Instagram is unique as a social media platform as it solely relies on immediate visual impact, therefore it is imperative that a brand should provide their audience with high quality, aesthetically pleasing images with each and every post.
There is no room on this extremely competitive platform for creating and posting content that has no purpose and is simply shared for the sake of posting an abundance of content, rather, images should be visually engaging, evoke an emotional response and worth the audience’s time.
Regardless of the type of image or the subject matter, followers of a company’s Instagram profile should be able to immediately recognise the publisher of the content without even looking at the profile photo. The visual content that business posts should become its own watermark.
One way to achieve cohesiveness on an Instagram profile is to use the same filter on all images.
This is essential in creating a united theme for a profile because when a user clicks onto a profile the first thing they are exposed to is the overall feed and if it is more visually and aesthetically pleasing, the more likely that they will hit follow on a profile.
It is also important as a brand to express who you are as it shows other businesses and digital influencers what a brand stands for and increases the likelihood of collaborations.
It’s all about the timing
Sometimes it is valuable to be predictable. Predictability in the timing of posts allows for followers to look forward to posts.
Despite the recent, and ever-changing, modifications on the Instagram algorithm, the majority of exposure and engagement of posts are received soon after posting.
Some of the most successful brands on Instagram post approximately 5 times a week.
For a brand to separate themselves from the crowd, marketers are required to be on top of the latest trends and must have the ability to develop new skills. In terms of Instagram, this means that a business needs to consistently use and update their hashtags.
In simple terms, hashtags are the way that Instagram and its users can categorize the high influx posts that are uploaded to the platform every day. Hashtags are extremely useful as they are the foundation of discovering new content and is the basis of finding, developing and constructing a community on Instagram.
Finding the most relevant hashtags on the platform for a business brand is similar to that of SEO and keyword research. Being able to target a key audience will build a brand’s community on this social channel.
Once a brand has conducted hashtag research, they should begin to implement these tags into each post; it is recommended that each post contains 10-15 community-based hashtags in every post to lead new potential followers to their profile page.
A brand should also consider establishing branded specific hashtags. These hashtags will become unique to their individual brand and allow businesses to endorse specific campaigns to the brand and also increase audience engagement and participation.
Build and engage with the community
Hashtags are only just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to building a strong and loyal community on Instagram. When used correctly and effectively, they can become extremely valuable tools that can
It is extremely valuable for a brand to spend the time commenting, liking and engaging with other posts within a similar community on the platform, whether that be on other brands profiles or on target audiences posts.
A brand should allocate a dedicated number of hours each week to community interactions. They can immediately expand the reach of content and increase the amount of traffic on this social channel.
However, building lasting relationships that will flourish is built on a two-way street. For a brand’s interactions and relationships to blossom, they must begin to engage with their followers and community.
Spending an allocated amount of time each week commenting, liking and engaging with users on the platform and target audiences in a brand’s specific community are extremely crucial.
A brand can find their community by using their researched hashtags in reverse; by using the same hashtag list that a brand has created for their content will work in the same way to categorise others content for them. This also has the advantage of narrowing down and focusing on target audiences.
With sufficient blocks of time allocated to interacting with users in the community each week, if not every day, it creates vast opportunities to form real connections. By engaging with content, even though the most basic form of liking others posts can go a long way in building a loyal following and gaining the trust of audiences in the community.
Promote the Instagram profile, everywhere
One of the main challenges that many businesses face when it comes to branding on social media is gaining that first initial traction. Many businesses tend to take a passive approach to gaining followers on social media and simply want to wait for the results to work in their favor, however, this is not how society works.
Rather, brands should seek to promote their social media profiles, not excluding Instagram, whenever possible. Cross-promote on other social media platforms and even include the Instagram handle on email signatures.
Trust is the foundation of relationships
By engaging with, building and allocating dedicated time in developing a community on Instagram, a business is ultimately building trust in their brand. Once a brand has spent the most valuable resource of time into building trust, they should work even harder to not lose it.
There have been many instances of marketers and brands getting caught up in their numbers, increased follower count and bottom line figures that they begin to neglect their audience once they have established a loyal following.
Brands can begin to become too promotional and begin to ultimately lose sight of their brand and identity. Followers and users of the platform are tech-savvy millennials who can spot a marketing ploy from miles away and will do everything in their power to avoid it like the plague.
This ultimately leads to followers losing their trust that they have placed in the brand, they then become disinterested in the brand which creates followers who are annoyed by their content. This is why it is so important for a brand to always put quality content first and foremost.
The success of a brand on Instagram relies on community and like-minded individuals. Once a brand has built a strong and dedicated following, a brand has the responsibility to cultivate and care for their relationships that were the basis of building their presence on the platform.
By a brand staying true to their identity, consistently providing quality and engaging content and remaining loyal to their followers, they can continue to boost their brand identity.
With these tips in mind, a business can begin to craft their brand identity on Instagram, however, there are always opportunities to extend the reach of these images but sharing them and applying this knowledge across other social media platforms.
As audiences engage with a brand and are exposed to consistent branding across all channels, the brand identity can strengthen.