The Social Observer

The Social Media Marketing Blog by SNHU Students

Building Brand Identity on Instagram

Creating and maintaining a brand identity helps businesses attract customers and create a lasting connection with them.  In short, building brand identity involves sending messages that create a positive image.

As Anna Swan explains, it includes all of the the visual components you use to differentiate your brand.  In an increasing connected world, visual platforms like Instagram allow brands to capture their stories and share them with a universal audience (Carlino, 2014).

Your visual brand identity can influence customers’ perception of you.  For example, sharing photos and videos of people having fun with your product will show that you care about spreading happiness.

Now, let’s talk about using Instagram to build your brand identity.

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a photo-sharing app for smartphones and tablets that makes it easier for users to take photos and share them on the Internet.  It also allows users to apply special filters to their photos to give them a desired look.  Additionally, users can upload very short videos.  Your photos and videos can then be easily shared on other social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter.  Instagram has over 400 million monthly active users and has been used to share over 40 billion photos (Cooper, 2016).

4 Tips to Build Brand Identity

Here are several ways businesses can build their brand identity on Instagram:

1. Post Quality Photos

First, post quality photos.  Have you ever seen lots of blurry or poorly taken photos on an Instagram account?  It can have a negative impact on brand image and may deter potential customers.  If you are unable to hire a professional photographer, check out these five photography tips for social media.

For example, Starbucks shares many high-quality photos of its products on Instagram.  The company believes in offering a variety of beverages and treats that people can enjoy.  Based on its wonderful photos, you know you can get a great cup of coffee or yummy cake pop from Starbucks!

Starbucks' Photos on Instagram Shape its Brand Identity

2. Post Quality Videos

Second, post quality video content.  Sharing short videos is another great way to connect with your audience.  It is important to only share high-quality videos because posting sloppy or cheap-looking ones can hurt your brand image.  Your videos don’t have to be recorded in high-definition, but they do need to clearly share your story.

Additionally, Instagram offers a new feature called Stories that allows you to post a bunch of photos and videos in a slideshow format.  These stories disappear after 24 hours.  Creative businesses can use this feature to tell stories throughout the day!

For example, The Smithsonian’s National Zoo shares videos of all sorts of animals on Instagram.  It recently shared a video of two pandas playing to celebrate Panda Bao Bao’s trip to China.  Sharing these kinds of videos shows that the zoo takes excellent care of its animals and believes in educating people about different species.  It clearly cares very much about animal well-being which is important to visitors.

3. Include a Caption

Third, add captions to your photos and videos.  Crafting the perfect caption can take time but it enhances your story.  Keep the caption brief and make sure it adds value.  Write it carefully because irrelevant or poorly-written captions may confuse your audience.

For example, Edition Hotels includes captions on all of its photos.  It uses them to describe photos in more detail, such as the beautiful views from its hotel in New York City.  People can see that the company is proud of its hotels all over the world.  They can also see that it believes in providing a great experience to guests.

Edition Hotels Uses Captions to Enhance its Brand Identity

4. Use Descriptive Hashtags

Finally, use hashtags that will get your content noticed.  A hashtag is a keyword phrase with a pound sign (#) in front of it.  They can be placed anywhere you want in the caption.  Businesses typically place hashtags at the end of the caption to describe the product in the photo or video.  They can also be used to promote events or contests.  Choose them wisely because they help people find your posts.

Hashtags can increase engagement and shape your brand’s personality.  For example, Starbucks chose #MoltenChocolate, #Latte, #HotCocoa and other hashtags to promote its “Molten Chocolate Love” on Instagram.  It then used the comment box to answer questions about the beverage.  This shows that Starbucks is a friendly, helpful company that wants people to try its products.

Starbucks Hashtags

In sum, follow these tips to more quickly build your brand identity on Instagram.  As the above examples show, you can influence consumers’ perception of your brand by sharing lots of quality photos and videos.  You can also help them find your content by including interesting captions and adding the right hashtags.

Which businesses do you think are successfully using Instagram? Let me know below!

Carlino, N. (2014). Instagram captures Edition’s visual identity, offers global reach. Hotel Business, 23(11), 36.
Cooper, P. G. (2016). Instagram. Salem Press Encyclopedia.


Category: Small Biz, Social Media Marketing 201