How to build a branded content library for Instagram

How to build a branded content library for Instagram

How to build a branded content library for Instagram by Nicole Hanratty Ta Da Neon Sign Photo


When you are communicating your brand on Instagram, the trick is to find a new image for each post that represents your brand with repeating yourself.  Build a content library that hits a home run with your message every time, but with a different team player up at bat.


Look at the Instagram feed of any successful brand.  What makes it look cohesive? Branded messaging. Graphics tell stories but keep the imaging fresh.  A travel blogger may post a photo in a different location every day, but the messaging is the same, “I travel the world.”


How do you establish this for a new brand or an existing brand that is new to Instagram? It starts with a conversation.


Step One: Ask these five establishing questions:

  1. What is the audience you want to attract?  Here we are looking for basic demographics.  Define an age range, interests, gender if appropriate, and customer spending habits.
  2. How do you want people to feel when they see your brand?  Ads create emotion and feelings like excitement, calm, curiosity, trust, or urgency.  
  3. What’s a win look like for the brand?  This is different for everyone, but in most cases building a following, engagement, sales and ROI are the goals.  Know your brand’s goals before building out a content library.
  4. What other imagery or affiliations resonate with the brand’s core values?  A top reason people site for unfollowing brands is too much self-promotion.  Brands need to incorporate imagery into their Instagram feeds that is authentic to their voice but isn’t always selling their product.  
  5. What promotions is the brand willing to run?  Giveaways, contests, and deals released to social media followers help to build a following.  Discuss swag creation for just such purposes if the brand does not have a product available or legal (like alcohol) to giveaway for free.


Step Two: Once these questions are answered, the next step is building out a style guide to illustrate how the logo and ad copy should be used in graphics. Strict adherence to regular use of the same colors, fonts, taglines, hashtags, and imagery is important for brand recognition. Create the brand bible and follow it 98% of the time.


Step Three: Let the mood board games begin. Creativity begins in the trenches where only one rule resides. There are no bad ideas. Throw it all in, including the kitchen sink. Brainstorm hashtags, taglines, campaign initiatives, contests, potential brand ambassadors, video segments, and brand activations.


Step Four:  Whether it is an internal company vote or your marketing team makes the final call, choose four campaigns and map out your year by quarter. For every campaign, a shot list for content needs to be created and assets acquired. A final output digital library of files for an engaging Instagram feed should include boomerangs, gifs, jpegs or pngs, short video shot vertical for IG story and sized square for IG board, and longer episodic video shot vertical for IG TV.


Step Five: Set up your editorial calendar based on the finalized mood boards before you hit send. Look to see how your posts will look lined up next to one another. You may want to create a pattern or theme posts by rows. Vary your call-to-action and intermix with pure visuals without any logo stamping.


Sample Instagram feeds for inspiration

@Pepsi does a great job of integrating branded photos that alternate with lifestyle images. Recognition is present across the platform even though every single piece of content is different. The beverage company is telling the same story with every post: Pepsi makes life refreshing and fun.


Pepsi is, of course, a long-established brand.  For an example of a new brand, look at @firebirdthefest on Instagram. This social media account feed is for the upcoming inaugural Firebird Music Festival in Scottsdale, Arizona. Each graphic builds excitement, illustrates the festival feels and showcases the destination. Content conveys the brand’s messaging that this festival is an experiential destination event.


Week after week, month after month, stay consistent.  Consistency pays off. Your customers, fans, and followers will begin to associate colors, fonts and visual vibes with your brand.  In no time, you will have built an expansive branded content library for Instagram.


Stay connected with Nicole

Twitter: @nicolehanratty2

Instagram: @nicolehanratty2


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