How to Stand Out on Instagram With These Visual Trends
Why branding matters more than ever on Instagram
We live in a day and age of quick hooks, short attention spans, and bite-sized content. In 2020, the way you present your brand online, its’ visual outlook, is arguably as important as the content you produce. Why?
Because the look and feel of the content are what encourages people to stop and read on as they recognise your trademark style.
It’s a very specific cue that our brain processes.
As a marketing consultant, and overall a human who loves exploring the ways the interwebs works, I am always looking out for new ways people are engaging and upping their game when it comes to standing out with visual design.
Recently, during my investigative endeavours in the world of Instagram, I stumbled upon a relatively new trend that says a lot about the way people engage with brands on the platforms.
At first, this trend may not seem like much. However, it says a lot about the way brands and individuals alike have evolved the way they style their feed.
It’s a visual journey that is uniquely tailored to each brand.
A few days later, I realised we have been subconsciously early adopters of this new way of organising our feed and making it stand out.
This is especially important for your 9-grid, also known as the top 9 posts in your profile.
For us, it manifested as a way to plan our feed based on the transition of our brand colours, as can be clearly exemplified by a screenshot from our Instagram profile below.
On paper, it’s not a big deal.
Yet, a few people DMed us on Instagram in the past three months saying that the new style makes us stand out in their feed as they are scrolling through.
To me, that is a massive win. Without knowing, we embraced the early trend of puzzle templates: a series of graphics tied in the profile to create a visual story.
Pro tip: You may feel this level of planning too much for you. If styling your whole feed feels unattainable, you can use a set of specific designs for a targeted campaign. This is a great way to visually tie all of your campaign content together — especially launch campaigns.
As more and more brands online are refining their style in order to create a holistic experience across IGTV, Reels, and Instagram feed, I wanted to share a few fun ideas you could adopt as a way to take over your brand visuals, or maybe use them in conjunction with a specific event.
Storytelling for a Social Media Campaign
Staying in keeping with your overall brand identity is important, but that doesn’t mean you can’t introduce some playful new creative elements to your social campaigns.
If you have access to a team and/or designers, you could create a specific graphic feed for a specific event, just like Later did on Instagram for their online event — you can see them below as the graphics with a black background.
If you lack the resources, I believe that puzzle templates can help you stand out by creating a 9-grid visual story on your profile.
A great example of this could be a specific campaign or product launch, through which you create a visual announcement on social media. This can be a great way to launch a new account, product, or brand.
It can set the tone for the overall brand and will not tie you into a specific set of posts forever, giving you overall more freedom to play and adapt going forward.
Pro tip: By using a set of templates you can create an overall experience that feels unique, yet each individual post tells a story. Don’t make the mistake of creating one gigantic graphic and cut it into nine squares. You want each post to have its own identity and stand out on the feed.
Colour Gradients and Transitions
This is another trend I have seen recently.
I love this idea to invigorate branding by using a 3-post colour-coded approach.
Instead of focusing on one colour and aesthetic, this example from Mindful Bites makes sure that the grid would show continuity by having 3 posts of the same colour scheme before heading to the next.
This works incredibly well as it will always show a fresh 9-grid that stands out, without limiting your brand.
Pro tip: Take the time to outline your brand colours, and have a variety that allows you to mix and match on your feed. Colour clashing can be visually stunning when done right.
The most memorable designs usually have a strong creative narrative, a concept or theme that ties all of the design elements together in a visual story.
If you are truly stumped when it comes to your direction, you can use Instagram Canvas templates as a shortcut to help you guide your overall design direction without having to really think about it.
The templates you choose will be your guiding light overall.
If you are looking for the best first step, I always recommend starting a mood board. By creating a visual mood board, you can bring all of your creative inspirations together in one place and gain a holistic view of what themes and styles work well together.
When choosing a new set of templates think about the following questions:
- Does the style of these templates reflect my own style and overall brand?
- How can I adapt the style to make it more personal to my brand colours and fonts?
- Will I use this for a specific campaign or for my overall feed look?
Pro tip: Use tools like Tailwind to plan your Instagram grid in advance and be able to plan your 9-grid in a way that looks cohesive to you.
Completely revolutionising your feed can be a much more daunting task than just focusing on designs for a specific campaign or event, this is why I would recommend spending time getting clear on the whole branding guidelines before changing the look of your feed completely.
Now more than ever, your visual brand will make you stand out on Instagram. This also allows you to have a bit more fun with the look and feel of your brand.
This could be the best way to refine your direction going forward. Overall, by taking some risks and trying something new you’ll be able to keep your visual brand fresh and current on Instagram and beyond.