If you want to ensure success in anything, you need to plan it out beforehand, right? The same goes for Instagram, especially if you’re creating it for your own brand, online business, or blog. This past week, I used Canva to create my own branding guidelines deck for my Instagram and wanted to walk you all through it. It’s extremely beneficial to have a clear sense of your strategy, design, themes, fonts, and aesthetic before you start your Instagram. That way, your viewers see and recognize your unique branding across all of your media platforms.
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Confused? Don’t worry, I’ll attach each page of my template and explain why it’s necessary to include. You’ll be building out your branding deck in no time! (Here’s my full deck if you want to take a look first.) Let’s jump in.
Mission Statement or Vision
So after a title slide, it’s important to include your vision or mission statement. I just quickly wrote this one up, but I want you to think about what you want to say about yourself and what you want to provide for your audience. Is it a community? Are you offering advice? Maybe you provide one-on-one consultations. What’s your end goal or what do you hope to achieve through your content? Take a few moments to reflect on those points and build them into a few sentences for this first slide.
Next, include a slide that dives deeper into your narrative. What story do you want to tell about yourself through your brand? Take a moment to discuss things like your brand promise, your customer experience, and your “why”. You can definitely dive deeper in than I did, but this is a good start. Really dive into the meaning behind your online business. That way, you can unlock more passion and motivation when you realize you’re doing this for something far greater than yourself. The more people you’re able to positively impact with your amazing brand or product, the better!
Next, I wanted to dive into the imagery of my brand. I know that I’m drawn to warm, vintage tones, and I’ve always wanted to create an Instagram with a cohesive aesthetic. If you’re on my email list, you saw my steps about how I achieved my ideal color scheme by creating Pinterest boards and collecting inspiration. I mentioned how you should always be searching and saving photos that inspire you, so you can get a better sense of what your eye is drawn to most and what calls to you. On the sidebar, I include some sample images (not my own) as well as a brief description of the color scheme.
After I dove into my aesthetic, I brainstormed some ideas for the content that I’ll be posting. I decided to do a mixture of flat-lays, possibly some landscapes, coffee shops, aesthetic architecture, some self-portraits, and quote cards. I like this mix of content and was inspired by other feeds to choose these concepts. That’s why it’s crucial to find other sources of inspiration, which we’ll get in to later. However, this is an extremely crucial step, because the more content ideas you have, the easier it will be to actually produce them. For example, if you know you want to do flat-lays, maybe purchase a felt message board or some flat-lay backdrops off of Amazon. Start thinking about how you can actually create the desired content and make sure it’s something you can do.
I also wanted to take a look at Instagram story ideas. Stories are a fantastic way to let your viewers see more of who you are and connect with you on a deeper level. People have become much more creative with stories recently, as there are tons of unique ideas all over Pinterest, TikTok, and various blogs. I wanted to carry my feed aesthetic and creativity over to stories as well, like the ideas on this slide. I also wanted to make sure to utilize the features like polls and asking questions to really get my audience engaged. Even if you forget to post on your feed for a day or two, you can at least post a story to show up for your audience!
As I mentioned in my content slide, I wanted to include quote cards throughout my feed. I simply designed these on Canva and made a few different versions. I don’t want them to be all the same color, but I do want a cohesive style. These are really popular now because people can share posts in their stories. I do this A LOT if I see a quote that inspires me. That’s why it’s also important to include your username or some sort of branding somewhere on the card. When people repost it to their story, your handle will be visible to their audience. Then it will be easier to find you if they want to give you a follow.
I’ve saved a few Instagram profiles that have inspired me so I can refer back to their style or aesthetic. Every time I’m scrolling through my feed and notice a quote card or a filter that I like, I check out their profile and look at some of their related accounts. The explore page is great as well to find new inspiration. I found these cool phone templates on Canva and added them to this slide and then dropped screenshots of these users’ feed inside. I highly recommend finding at least 5 inspirational accounts, but of course, you can always collect more. Take mental notes on what you like, don’t like, or what you want to include in your own feed. Just don’t copy anyone!
Pre-Launch To-Do List
Once I collected inspiration, it was time to create a strategy. Now, as much as I wanted to dive in after being inspired by all these beautiful feeds, I knew I had to take a moment to plan out content ahead of time. My idea was that I would have a month’s worth of content stocked up before I actually created my account. That way I wouldn’t have to scramble the day of to get an Instagram post. I work a full-time job during the week and ya girl is busy!!! Since I already planned out my variety of content in one of the earlier slides, I chose a certain amount of each type that I wanted to collect beforehand. So for the next week, I made sure to get enough content in each category listed above and saved them in a folder on my phone. You can then schedule out content in Planoly, Facebook Creator studio, or save them as drafts on Instagram and post them manually when the time comes.
It’s crucial to have some sort of content calendar to know what you’re going to post and when. I chose to post at least once a day, which is why I absolutely need to have my content ready ahead of time. If I do something fun one day and get a great picture, I can definitely whip up a post on that day, or save it for later. But for the most part, I want to be prepared. My goal is to batch content on the weekends by taking time to get some flat-lays at a coffee shop or at home, take some self-portraits, or get some nice shots by the beach. That way I can schedule posts a few weeks in advance and never feel rushed. If you couldn’t tell, I want this to be as stress-free as possible and not have my life revolve around my next Instagram shot.
Mock Feed Preview
Finally, I created a mock feed for my last slide with color swatches that fit my aesthetic. Again, I used this cool phone template from Canva that allows you to pop in any photo onto the screen. I collected a mix of mock-up quote cards, photos from my photography Instagram, and random internet photos. Then I downloaded the Preview app which allows you to drop photos into your Instagram feed and rearrange the tiles without actually posting them yet. This way you can see how your feed will look before posting. It’s quite satisfying to see everything come together and that way you can make sure your feed aesthetic is cohesive. I love the mixture of quote cards, selfies, coffee pics, flat-lays, and other various shots in this feed. It gives me validation and I know that my ideation and strategy will definitely pay off! I also included some color swatches that I used in my quote cards and the photos. That way I could pick out prominent colors to match to future posts.
And there you have it! That’s what goes into creating an Instagram branding guidelines deck. You can add extra slides depending on how detailed you want to get, but this is a general starting point. You can totally do this if you already have a brand identity or if you want to do a re-brand.
Canva has a ton of amazing branding guidelines templates that will suit any brand. They have pre-made slides, so you may have to do a bit of rearranging or adding slides. Just click the link above to head straight to the list of templates to get started!
Remember that Instagram is a place to show your creativity, so post what inspires you and makes you feel good. Don’t feel pressured to look or be a certain way on Instagram. Authenticity is key. People will follow you for who YOU are, so be genuine and authentic to your true self. Most importantly, have fun!
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