Instagram is one of the most powerful platforms out there for artists, creators, and entrepreneurs. It offers a huge audience — we’re talking one billion monthly active users! If you’re serious about building a brand, establishing yourself on Instagram isn’t exactly optional.
But all that opportunity means lots of competition, too. That’s why you need a clear, strong visual identity to stand out from the crowd and create a brand that’s immediately recognizable on Instagram.
If you’re ready to do some soul-searching about who you are, why you're here, and who you’re talking to, let’s get started. Here are the 5 fundamental steps to building your brand’s visual identity on Instagram.
1. Know who you are
It may sound obvious, but your visual identity starts with knowing who you really are.
For your visual identity to feel clear, cohesive, and authentic, it needs to be grounded in a strong brand identity. Then, you can move onto dreaming up gorgeous colors and great designs — otherwise known as the fun parts of branding!
Start by looking deeply into your brand values. It’s great if you already know these, but if you’re just getting started, that’s okay.
Core values are a way to distill your brand down to its essence. Who are you, or who is your company? What makes you, you?
If you’re overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, we don’t blame you. Especially if you’re a solo entrepreneur or creator, dreaming up your brand might feel very intuitive and tricky to put into words. Later has some excellent tips for honing in on your brand values, from brainstorming a list of adjectives to building a Pinterest mood board.
Once you’ve laid the groundwork of learning your brand values, you’ll use them to create your branding basics — your brand name, logo, and mission statement. If you’re doing this on your own, it might be worth it to work with a marketing expert or designer at this stage.
Great branding and logos might seem simple, but they actually take great skill and knowledge to pull off well. If you choose to work with an expert, they can support you as you move into the later stages of finding your visual identity, too. Websites like Dribble, Behance and Awwwards are great places to start to find inspiration and hire designers.
2. Know who you’re talking to
Now that you know who you are, you need to know who you’re talking to.
Who is your audience? If you’re already working as an entrepreneur or creator on Instagram, this is your chance to do some basic market research. Who are your customers, or followers? What demographic groups do they tend to fall into? You might want to look at differentiators like age, geographic, and socioeconomic background.
As you collect information on your audience, use it to create a few buyer personas. These are profiles of your typical customers that you can keep in mind when you’re creating content, products, and generally strategizing for the future of your business.
Knowing who you’re speaking to will help you make visual design choices that feel cohesive, authentic, and resonate with your audience.
3. Decide what you look like
Understanding your audience better is all about knowing their interests, aesthetic taste, and preferences. Just think about it — a brand aimed at older Millennial mothers is going to look very different, visually, than one aimed at men under 24 with an interest in video games.
You know who you are, and you know who you’re talking to. Now you’ll decide how to communicate that visually.
At this stage, you’ll choose one or two fonts and a distinctive color palette for your brand. You might also choose certain presets for your photographs, or other elements such as shapes and designs.
To continue the example above, the brand for Millennial mothers might use cursive script and peachy pinks, while the brand for young gamers might use bolded lettering and high-contrast blacks and greens.
This visual branding kit will guide all the content you create from this point forward. Keeping things cohesive will give your profile a unified, instantly recognizable look.
4. Get your profile on-brand
Now, it’s time to apply that visual branding kit to your Instagram profile.
Start with the basics — a branded profile picture (ideally your logo), username, and bio. All the work you’ve done so far will make this part easy!
Next, try creating templates for different categories of content like Stories, graphic or text posts, or presets for editing all your photos. Canva is a good platform to start with to create templates, while Figma and Photoshop are ideal for those with design experience.
For example, the Millennial mom brand might create a fun pink graphic to use whenever they want to share some inspirational quotes, while the one aimed at gamers might create a Story template to announce all their livestreams or Q&As.
Remember, you can adjust and improve these templates in the future. But having templates to work from now is an easy way to make sure your content stays on-brand.
5. Stay consistent
Remember, branding isn’t a one-and-done job. Rather, it’s a set of standards that should guide how you conduct your business — and yourself — on Instagram.
As you move forward, make sure all the content you create fits within the visual branding parameters you’ve defined. It’s okay to evolve, but some elements, like your fonts and colors, should stay consistent unless you’re going for a major rebrand.
Also remember that Instagram itself is always changing. In the future, you’ll be creating types of content that don’t even exist yet — remember when Reels were the next big thing?
As you experiment with any new formats, make sure you keep them on brand, too.
Protect your Instagram account
Instagram is basically like the shopping malls of yesteryear. It’s where today’s consumers go to check out the brands they love, and the exceptional creators who curate and promote them.
If you’re serious about establishing your brand on Instagram, you need to treat it like a business — and that includes getting insurance!
If your Instagram account is a source of income, you can’t risk losing it to a hack. You need to take steps to protect yourself, just like a traditional business owner would protect their factory or physical store.
Until recently, there was no good insurance option for the new generation of digital business owners. That’s why we created Notch, the very first insurance for digital assets like Instagram accounts.