How to Use Your Instagram Palette

WHY HAVE A PALETTE?

Instagram is a visual platform and your posts need to be aesthetically pleasing for success. They also need to showcase who you are and what you offer.

Eventually, certain colors will have specific meanings and people will recognize them. For example, they will know your "sale" is in red and that your "actions" are in orange. You can look on my site and see this at work: headlines are royal blue, all buttons and actions are orange. For more about how color palettes work, you can read here.

A consistent palette allows you to be recognized at a glance.

Color increases brand recognition by up to 80 percent.
— University of Loyola, Maryland study

If that quote doesn't convince you, just check out when the brand colors are flipped on these famous logos.

A Instagram color palette helps you:

  • Always show up consistent. You stick to the colors that represent you every time because people don't have the benefit of meeting you in person and knowing you. By not being consistent, it would be like showing up ready to roll in your best outfit and the next just choosing any old thing out of the closet as you get dressed in the dark.
  • Leverage your brand to the fullest. It allows you to rely on a certain set of colors or designs for almost everything that you do. One visual people always think of is their logo. Your brand palette should be just as important and vital to your business as your logo.
  • Be recognized by your following. You want people to see your post and recognize the colors immediately as belonging to your brand. It's like seeing a powder blue box and knowing it's from Tiffany's. Ideally, your posts should become so iconic that people know who's posting with just a look.

Colors create recognition which builds trust with your customers and can increase sales.

But I thought Instagram was JUST pretty pictures?

For accounts that can rely on them, celebrities, or for personal accounts - the answer is definitely yes. They can rely on photos taken at events and photos of themselves, because the point of consistency is their presence.

However, businesses need to work harder to be fun and interesting so it's best to mix things up when it comes to what to include in your account. The designed templates and lifestyle product photos make is easier for people to gain value from following a business account.

HOW CAN I USE IT ON INSTAGRAM?

There are several ways to incorporate your brand palette on Instagram in your posts. One is through the color composition of the images you post, through the category or topic, and another is through the text colors in templates.

Color composition in lifestyle photos

People with a really strong presence may not rely on the exact text or color each time, but their feed still is cohesive through the types of photos they post. Here are a few of my favorite brand's accounts. Can you guess who they are just by looking at them?

OhJoy.PNG
Poshmark.PNG

From left to right, the accounts are Urban Outfitters, Oh Joy, and Poshmark. They primarily rely on photos that meet their color scheme and brand feel.

These types of accounts sell more than one product type and have built their brand on design (like OhJoy who now designs for Target). They also include people who are their brand like bloggers or celebrities.

A note on photos: The success of your posts depends on the quality of the images you are posting. They should be lifestyle photos (people interacting with the product or staged in a flatlay) rather than product photos (usually your product on a white background (although these can be mixed in).

Photos adhered by topic/design composition/category

Not a lot of people fall into this category since these photos don't rely on a palette, they are more driven by content. For example, a landscape photographer does not care about how their colors differ in each photo. It matters more that they share similar types of photos and don't deviate from the expectation that people will be receiving "landscape" photos.

 

Murad Osman's account on the left is a great example of this type of Instagram account. His account went viral during this series of images titled #followme.

He has a similar style across each photo, but the brand palette is not integral to his can of work.

Accounts that work like this one are usually your personal accounts. The thread between each post is your own face or place that you've been.

Other types of accounts that leverage this style of grid include photographers, videographers,and yogis.

 

Photos with consistent palettes

Having beautiful photos all the time, for every Instagram post, is hard. It's probably one of the reasons why businesses also incorporate designed posts that include text.

Day Designer.PNG
Boss Babe.PNG

From left to right is Stargaze Jewelry, Day Designer and Boss Babe. Each one stays consistent with color and fonts to effectively present their brand.

These types of accounts are usually ones with a physical product or line that does not vary as much. For example, Day Designer only sells office products and Stargaze is only jewelry. These also may be accounts trying to incorporate a larger audience like Boss Babe who features their followers.

So what types of posts is my palette used for?

It can be used to guide the color scheme of all of your photos (like Urban Outfitters)

It can be used as a way to include text in photos (like Day Designer). These photos with text can include:

  • Quotes
  • Promotions or discounts
  • Announcements
  • Overlay on photos to include your website or information
  • Shout outs to clients