No, Instagram will not make you money. It will cost you money.
At Toth Media we spend a huge amount of our time on social media platforms such as instagram, Facebook, Twitter, & LinkedIn. When it comes to these platforms, there is a trend we see when meeting with prospective or new clients. They think that all they need to do is get an Instagram up and running and they will instantly see a big boost in sales after a couple weeks of posting.
This cannot be more wrong.
The brands that are developing a substantial social following have committed themselves to fleshing out their vision, developing an overall brand aesthetic or “vibe”, and have assets that are consistent between their website, Instagram, photos, videos, etc. Their online appearance is a continual paradigm that everything flows through.
They are harsh when it comes to creative, they have the tough conversations such as; these images don’t work, please change this etc. to their creatives and/or partners. This can be painful but the successful brands always stay true to their brand aesthetic.
For some, this is a large paradigm shift – it’s an investment. It will cost you money. You must invest time, resources, and effort into something that, yes, may seem very arbitrary at first, but, will pay off in the future if you can create a brand that resonates with consumers in your market.
You want to create an ‘itch’ for consumers to be interested and captivated by your brand so that they will consider your business as a whole & be much more likely to browse all of your products. Story telling about who you are and what your brand is all about is so much more effective that just marketing your products and talking about their attributes alone.
Some Brands That We Love…
There are a few brands out there that truly understand how to create a consistent brand and grow a social following. Below are a few we have hand picked that exemplify what we are discussing:
Side tip: Studies show that the number one thing consumers want to see on social is new products & sale announcements, however, your number 1 priority is to have a brand that is consistent across all platforms and tells the true story of your company. The point where the brand story is told consistently is when the demand for sales announcement begins to emerge.
A locally based company in Vancouver, DU/ER creates “clothes for doers.” Their clothes are designed for movement, with stretch & forgiveness crafted into each item. So what do they have on their Instagram page? Let’s take a look:
You can see right off the bat, the “vibe” & aesthetic is very uniform. Each photo is different, yet they all share the same tones and editing style. Very branded.
Next, you can see the action taken in the photos matches that of their brand story. Since their clothes are designed for Doers, and are made with movement & stretch in mind – the majority of their photos include movement or some sort of bending of their products.
In addition, the content of their photography conveys a certain lifestyle. They are speaking to their target market – 20 to 30’s who live an urban & active lifestyle. They aren’t a fitness brand, but their target market is always on the go and living life outside.
Lastly, the branding flow from Instagram to their website (and vice versa) is smooth. It is an overarching brand that continues throughout all aspects of the consumer journey.
Another company we like what they are up to on Instagram is Herschel Supply Co. They are a Vancouver based company that now has 1 million Instagram followers. They originally gained popularity for their stylish backpacks and travel bags.
Because Herschel is focused on travel and adventure, it is very evident in their content and branding. Their bio has phrases like “enjoy your stay”, and #WellTraveled, which is adventure and exploration focused.
The photos on their feed reflect what their brand is all about. They have content from around the world with geo/location tags in the vast majority of their photos. They ensure their content reflects an active/traveling lifestyle & even their product shots are interesting and dynamic In addition, Herschel has very similar colour grading in all of their content, ensuring that their feed is uniform.
How Is A Brand Created?
When it comes to creating a visually arresting brand, our most important piece of advice is to make sure your brand portrays emotion and tells a story.
Here is a practical list of steps that any business can take when defining a brand strategy:
1) Create a general & vast mood board of all brands & aesthetics you and your team like. This means gathering all assets such as websites, images, videos, gifs, etc. from other brands.
2) Get outside opinions. No, not just your wife/husband or friends, but people from outside your life. Ideally, experts or people/consumers in the industry if you have those resources.
3) Narrow down that general mood board into a defined brand aesthetic mood board.
4) Create a Brand Style Guide draft – this will be the guideline for your branding moving forward. You want to get the ball rolling on this, however, it is in its infancy so don’t be too concerned with it as it will change over time.
5) Conduct an ‘exploratory’ photo & video shoot. Here is where you want to test your branding so far. Create a storyboard and brief for the shoot that details the look and feel you are going for with your assets.
6) Asses the finished assets from the shoot & adjust if required.
7) Once you are happy with assets, adjust your brand style guide with those new assets.
8) Whoa, you now have a bonafide brand on your hands!
9) Stay nimble! Sometimes brands find their groove after a long time in business. That being said, once you find something that truly catches on, stay committed and ensure that all assets reflect your new found style.