Instagram has become so much more than just posting a high resolution image and cleverly composed caption. There are hundreds of thousands of accounts out there who are creating beautiful content every day to tie into an aesthetic that brings both their brand and that content to life.
Looking at these feeds it’s sometimes hard to see how you could create something similar or even decide which one will work for you so I’m here to help you get some ideas for revitalising your content on this platform.
Bright and Colourful
Bold and bright; fill your feed with colour like these accounts.
How can you achieve this look? To make the colours on your photos pop you’ll need to do some editing to them. Apps like VCSO have a huge range of pre-set filters where you can adjust the vibrancy and colour saturation of the natural colours in a photo or if you fancy doing it manually then have a go at PhotoShop.
Who would this style work for? Fashion designers and clothing companies, travel based accounts, interior home design and basically anything where colour and vibrancy is the key.
2. The Minimalist look
It’s not strictly black and white (that style is coming next) but think more of a pared down uncluttered feed with muted and neutral tones.
How can you achieve this look? Again this is a style that could be edited in post-production but because you want the clean and uncluttered look from the start it would be best focusing on just two or three neutral colours and adapting these into the colour palette alongside monochrome for setting up your images from the start. The minimalist theme works because the objects or subject in the image are uncluttered also so bear this in mind and think of what the focus of your image is.
Who would this style work for? Product shots, homewares, interior design, bridal, photography and potentially fashion.
3. Black and White
This one may be easy to produce content for but it doesn’t work for all accounts and needs to be kept classic for it to work well.
How can you achieve this look? Most photographers will say they prefer to work in RAW and create the Black and White images at the time of shooting but it can still of course be achieved in post-production editing with the help of filters in many of the easily available apps.
Who would this style work for? This style naturally lends itself to photography based accounts, but could also work well for news and storytelling as well as street and urban style accounts.
4. The splash of colour
This style takes the prize for the most effort in the editing stakes. The idea is that only the true subject or focus of the image appears in colour and the rest is muted or in black and white.
How can you achieve this look? Creating this effect in photoshop is the most popular way to achieve the look however there are a number of other photo editing apps that enable you do this such as Photo Splash and Colour Splash.
Who would this style work for? This style could easily lend itself to a range of different themes and brands; photography, beauty products, fashion, jewellery, food and travel would probably work best as you could focus on key colour aspects to draw your audience in.
5. Focus on flat-lays
The flat-lay is already a hugely popular type of Instagram post itself but there are some brands and accounts who have made this style of photo the best way to show off their products.
How can you achieve this look? The key with a flat-lay is to think about the composition and styling of the photo before you actually take it…I’ve written some steps to flat-lay success here.
Who would this style work for? Flat-lays work best when the emphasis needs to be on the product or lifestyle that is marketed in the image so think beauty products, clothing, jewellery, food and stationary. It can also work well for other types of brands and businesses if dispersed amongst other images.
6. Dark and brooding
The complete opposite of a colourful feed, a dark theme adds a sense of deepness as well giving off more of a masculine vibe. However dark can also bring out elements of colour too.
How can you achieve this look? You’re going to need to start with a dark background and then look at toning down or paring back any natural light. To adjust photos in post production I recommend using an app that enables you to apply a consistent filter to all the images you want to add to your feed.
Who would this style work for? As I’ve said this style of theme really works well for brands who potentially want to appeal to men as their target market, because the use of colour also work well (see the account with the flowers above) I think it would really work with mens accessories, mens grooming products and barbers looking to establish themselves online.
7. Colour co-ordination
Instead of different colours or a dark theme these feeds take 1 or 2 choice colours and use them to bring unity across the grid.
How can you achieve this look? Stick to the colours of your brand if you have them or if not pick just one or two (three at most) colours that work together. You can either create the photo effects using filters, or use Canva to make graphics for your grid and then use one of the Insta feed planning tools such as Planoly or Plann to work out where to place each image to get the effect you want.
Who would this style work for? This theme or style would honestly work for almost any brand or business if this is the look you want to go for. I’d recommend not using it where the colours in the image need to be replicated as if in real-life unless you fully commit to only taking photos of your chosen colour palette.
8. Borders – white or black
This was a huge thing on Instagram at one point and everybody had borders however it’s much less common now so some brands and businesses have chosen to bring back borders as a way of standing out again.
How can you achieve this look? Upload the photos to an app such as Canva and then edit them with a border to ensure every image has a uniformed custom look.
Who would this style work for? As you can see above the two feeds are completely different types of account so I’d say the idea of borders would work well for any type of business or brand. White borders look best on things that you want your followers to aspire to so; health, well-being, travel, healthy living, sustainable and eco-conscious products and also jewellery. I think the black borders add a magazine and curated look to the feed so would potentially work best for editorial style work such as fashion, hair and lifestyle.
9. Vertical lines – down the grid
You’ve probably come across lots of accounts doing this on Instagram as it’s a really successful of creating a styled feed but also helps with a basic posting strategy as you’re refining what to post based on the layout you create.
How can you achieve this look? With any stylised grid feed like this the trick is to use a planning or scheduling tool such as Plann, Planoly or Later to organise the posts and make sure your middle column is something you can replicate all the time easily such as a quote with your business branding for example.
Who would this style work for? I think this style would work for almost any type of business and brand as it really helps to bring a level of planned content creation into play as you have to think carefully about the middle column and the rest of the images matching your aesthetic and business/brand values. A feed like this will instantly catch the eye of people on Instagram.
10. Horizontal lines – across the grid
Similar to the vertical lines down the grid the horizontal approach takes the planning to a whole other level with each square across the line being 1 part of a theme, entire image or quote.
How can you achieve this look? Because you’re working with the rule of 3 for lines across the grid it’s key to make sure the 3 images either match a mood or a them, are part of the same photo cut up and then stitched back together with something like Image Splitter. Another option is to choose a filter for each of the three images that will bring them together.
Who would this style work for? I can imagine this style working really well for photography businesses, food and culture, interiors and design as well as restaurants and museums.
11. The CheckerBoard or Patchwork Grid
My favourite style of feed until I discovered something else a bit later on. The checkerboard is great as it means you always have an ideal structure of what to post your content around.
How can I achieve this look? The key to making the checkerboard work is breaking up the images with either tiles with your branding colours or sticking to a consistent quote or written tile every other post. You can easily create your own quote graphics in apps like Canva and then plan your grid in any of the usual scheduling apps.
Who would this style work for? This style works best if you’re wanting to contribute information and text based value to your followers as well as images. The information in your branded tile posts could lead into what’s written in your caption thus catching your followers’ attention and making them read on, hopefully like and then comment on your post.
12. Across the grid or the puzzle feed
My new favourite way to post on Instagram and one I’ve been experimenting with myself as it looks a lot harder than it actually is to create this look. Every square needs to be an image or have reference to the follower in it’s own right but then when placed together on the Instagram feed looks like one giant picture put together like a puzzle or has aspects of other squares across the whole grid.
How do I achieve this look? As I said this looks a lot harder than it actually is and I spent a considerable amount of time teaching myself how to recreate a similar look as I didn’t want to pay someone else to do it for me (I am a social media manager after all!)
Most of these styles of grid are created in Photoshop but it can be done in Canva if you’re not the best at using Photoshop like me and can even be done completely on your phone with Canva and the use of Grid Post. I’ll be sharing my secrets in another blog post very soon so watch this space meanwhile there are several tutorials online for how to do using Photoshop.
Who would this style work for? This style works well for creative based brands and businesses and those wanting to really go for an aesthetic look to the imagery of their feed. I can also see clothing, accessories, wedding, photography and jewellery based businesses working well with this sort of feed.
I hope you find this post useful and it’s given you some ideas on how to get more creative with your Instagram account whether it’s for personal or business use.
If you’d like to know more secrets of creating a styled Instagram feed or my top tips on how you can make your business really thrive on Instagram then send me a message and I will see how I can help or book onto my Secrets of Social Media workshop taking place in Surbiton, South West London on the 25th April.
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