How to create a strong visual brand voice on Instagram

If you’ve ever scrolled longingly through your Instagram feed, desperate to create similar brand visuals with your own feed, then you’re in the right place, friend. That’s because you’re about to discover my easy 4-step method for creating a stunning feed for your business. Make sure you read all the way to the end too because I’ve created an extra goodie that will help you even further.

STEP 1: CHOOSE CATEGORIES

Many people who’re new to planning out visual content for their feeds don’t even realize that they need to do this step before they can start deciding on the look or “mood” of their feed. And that’s why a lot of people struggle to create cohesive feeds in the first place- they’re missing this crucial step.

I like to think of categories as the roadmap for creating content for my feed.

Instead of wondering what to post on a weekly or daily basis, I know that I have one of a handful of categories to choose from, as well as how often I want to post images from that category. It sort of turns the “I never know what to post!” anxiety into a math problem of sorts: I post to a set number of categories, and each category also has a set number of times I post to it weekly or monthly.

I’m going to go into WAY more into categories- how to define them, break them down, and use them to batch create your content- in a future post, but for now:

use these simple tips to create your own categories:

  • Aim for 4-6 category areas.

  • Make a list of things that are unique about you, your service/product or your business. You’re bound to find 2-3 things just right here that could be their own categories.

  • What is your overall brand strategy, mission and purpose? Can any of these become one of your categories?

  • Some common categories are: BTS, How to’s, Recipes, and stories about the people behind the brand.

  • Pictures of people perform really well on Instagram- are you a service provider or the face of your brand? If so, it might be a good idea to polish up on your selfie skills or hire a professional photographer and make one of your categories photos of yourself.

STEP 2: CREATE MOODBOARDS

The next thing you need to do is create a SEPARATE mood board for each on of your categories. (You can use a free design program like Canva, or simple make private pinterest boards.)

Separate boards is key. As a designer, creative director, and photographer, I use moodboards for everything.

Moodboards are the roadmaps that show you how things can look.

Too often, I see people making the mistake of creating a moodboard for their overall feed (which is also important) without really understanding the different elements (or categories) that are contributing to the overall aesthetic.

Here are some examples of moodboards I recently put together for a client. She is a Rapid Transformational Therapist, and wasn’t sure what she was supposed to be posting. After going through the Brand Discovery process, we identified her key categories, and then I pulled together moodboards for each one. This allowed her to see exactly how each area would come to life- separate from each other.

And the final moodboard below takes images from each of the category moodboards and combines them to show how everything comes to life together- which is something I would encourage you to do as well!

Visual Brand Moodboard Brand Spanking You

STEP 3: CURATE AND/OR CREATE CONTENT

This is the step where a lot of people start to panic- because they actually have to create the content. But relax, there are some things you can do to bring the stress level down.

First, you’ll notice I used the word “curate” in addition to create. Curating simply means you can have whole categories that are images you find and repost, images that are user-generated content from your brand hashtags and/or posts people tag your brand in, and stock photography content. (Check out all the stock images I offer here.)  All are super legit and brilliant ways to fill out your visual brand stories.

you can have whole categories that are images you find and repost, images that are user-generated content from your brand hashtags or posts people tag your brand in

Notice the category “sisterhood” from my client above. Female community is a huge part of her brand and something she loves to talk about. Instead of stressing over having to create images, I simply suggested she curate images of women that fit her brand aesthetic and the messages she would be communicating within that category.

You can also pay to have professional images created. (I offer content packages here) Even if every single image in your feed isn’t professionally shot, they’re great to sprinkle throughout to show you’re serious about your business.

And finally- practice makes perfect my friend! There are so many resources available for how to take & edit better photos- even if an iPhone is your only camera. To start, I have a video on taking better images with your iPhone here, and a video walking you through my iPhone editing process here.

STEP 4: PLAN

Planning completely changed my relationship with Instagram. Yes, you can still add images on the fly if you want, but being able to plan drastically reduces the time and stress involved with consistently posting AND it allows you to actually see what you’re feed is going to look like.

use color as a way to draw people’s eyes from one image to the next

With planning, I like to do what I call the “checkerboard effect”. Images vary from lighter to darker to create a subtle pattern within my feed. I can also space out the colors in my feed- I know that I like to have pops of teal, green, and orangey reds, but I usually don’t like the same colors side by side. I use color as a way to draw people’s eyes from one image to the next.

My favorite planning app is Planoly, and you can use it on mobile and desktop (which is key). I keep a bank of pre-edited images in there ready to go so I always have something to post.

Planoly screen shot Brand Spanking you

PREP WORK

seeing how feed images come together with Planoly

And there you have it, a simple 4-step method for creating a stunning, visually branded Instagram feed. Now that you know how to attract your dreamiest followers with your feed, there’s only one thing left for you to do: TAKE ACTION!

One of the fastest and easiest ways to create a strong visual voice on Instagram is with color. Check out this post to see some inspiring examples.

Need help figuring out how to create your own color theme on Instagram? I’ve got you covered.

Download your free guide to creating the perfect brand color palette for your Instagram feed

Use this guide to create the perfect, cohesive brand color theme on your Instagram feed
Sarah EhlingerComment