I wrote this blog post a few years back about Instagram concepting and finding your visual voice on Instagram. Branded visual stories through repetition. Concepts. Since then (obviously), we’ve seen a lot of changes on Instagram, from algorithms, to Stories and Live, and millions and millions of new accounts. Storytelling, though, is still the same. The way we can present our accounts and the types of creativity that we’ve seen on Instagram has exploded, and it’s still growing. Time to get your piece 🤑💪.
To go beyond account concepts, something you’ve likely seen on “(insert word) of Instagram,” visual theme accounts provide an additional contextual layer of storytelling. Themes can offer a more consistent, identifiable voice on your profile, and are a simple hack if you want to post about more than one thing.
For brands, a lot of themes start and revolve around the product. Having a consistent brand color scheme, logo, showing the product in use, showing the location, having a persona. For people, most focus on a consistent filter, color pops, or content topics. I’ll cover those, but there are a few themes that can help you stand out even more.
There are a number (more than 5, I’m sure) of ways to create a killer feed with various types of themes. The key is consistency. Build a theme that allows you to express yourself while building brand equity, so that people know you everywhere they see your posts. Get ready to be #feedgoals.
Here are 5 types of account themes you can easily create to up your Instagram game.
- Filter. The most common way to theme. To put it simply, this means editing all of your pictures in the same way. You could go OG with a Valencia, but I personally like to use editing apps that let you copy your filter and apply it to other photos, like VSCO. I’ll still edit each photo a bit so it looks best with that filter, but overall, the tones, contrast, lighting, etc, will remain the same.
2. Block. Blocking is a great way to theme, and to increase your content if you cannot take photos often. This is also known as a “checkerboard feed,” where every other photo uses a consistent background. Some block with quote photos on a solid background, others block in a more natural way by alternating between a dark and a light background.
3. Color Pops. This is another common theme, most often when someone has an established brand style guide. Each photo should contain 1 or 2 of your core colors. This type of theme can be difficult to execute and may feel constraining, but if you use props, or have a creative eye that thinks of Instagram photography when you’re out and about, you’ll be set. Once you see it, you’ll be surprised how much of your color you spot in every day life.
4. Color Replace. If you used to play around in MS Paint for fun as a kid, this theme is for you. A variation color pops, color replace is a way to fake a color themed feed. Obviously, the look for many photos is unnatural, but when you focus your entire feed on one color, this feed becomes as easy to execute as a filter theme. Using apps like PicsArt, VSCO, and others with heavy filters and editors can help you replace certain colors in your photos with your core color, or do a complete overlay. My Instagram for Internet Best Friend utilizes both color replace with apps, and complete photo overlays of pink shadows and highlights within the Instagram app. This is also an example of blocking, by alternating between light and dark tones. Color replace is one of the most approachable themes, as you can easily transition between colors if desired.
5. Grid. Grid themes are the most eye-catching (if a user goes to your profile that is), but by far the most difficult to execute. Grids require a lot of planning, and consist of laying out your photos and then slicing them up in different ways (3 and 9 photo blocks are common, as are 4 square and 2 vertical). The issue with grids is that if you upload less than 3 photos as a time, your entire grid will be off when a user goes to your profile. Not a good look! Similarly, when you’re uploading, you don’t want to overload your users with 9 photos of a white square with a tiny piece of content in each. Try to keep each individual photo interesting, and plan out your uploads so your followers don’t get annoyed. For the Black Ops Instagram, I planned out multiple blocks at a time using a scheduling app with a photo cutter (Planoly here), but only uploaded 3 photos per day. Even though we haven’t uploaded in a few months, our mini Instagram art gallery still attracts dozens of followers daily.
Theming is a fun, easy way to level up your Instagram. By using simple visual hacks, you can build a brand that your followers recognize, and draw in new ones. Creating a mini gallery on your Instagram can show off what you know, who you are, and help you attract followers that value your unique perspective. Now go get your aesthetic on.
Feeling lost with your Instagram strategy? Not sure what to post, or how to design your account?
Hit me up, and we’ll work on making you (and your brand) #FeedGoals.