Throughout all the setbacks and challenges that come with building a small business, there’s almost nothing better than making your dream a reality. In the Internet era, building a brand on Instagram is a big part of realizing that dream.

After all, it can be so gratifying to see posts featuring your company logo printed on custom cups or customers proudly wearing your custom printed apparel. There’s immense potential for your brand to reach a much larger audience in this digital era. That’s the power of social media, and especially Instagram.

Over 80% of people use this popular photo and video sharing platform to research products and services. Just think about how your iced lattes can be showcased in your custom plastic cups on your own Instagram page.

Beyond the visual aesthetics, research also proves that people remember more of what they see through photos and videos rather than through text alone, especially when it comes to personal brand. On top of the app’s media showcasing abilities, it also gives you the opportunity to connect with influencers, engage with your most loyal customers, reach new instagram users, display instagram ads, and increase your overall cash flow all through high quality content and brand recognition.

However, creating a successful page on Instagram is more than just uploading a few photos on an inconsistent schedule. It involves careful planning, a marketing strategy, and insight to make your business stand out from the crowd. We’re excited to show you how you can build your brand on Instagram and maximize your ROI.

7 Steps to Building Your Brand on Instagram

1. Research & Goals

Like any good project, your mission of creating a brand on Instagram needs to be backed up with a lot of research and goal-oriented planning.

Take a moment to host a brainstorming session with your team and evaluate what exactly it is you want to accomplish. Are you trying to spread brand awareness? Bring in new customers or increase blog traffic? Grow a strong community that rallies around your menu? Also, make sure to familiarize yourself with the various features offered by Instagram, such as Stories, Reels, and even Instagram shop which is great for businesses selling products like branded merch or custom tumblers. Researching these extra Instagram features will help you determine how they can enhance your brand’s storytelling and engagement efforts. Stay attuned to current trends on the platform, ensuring that your content remains relevant and appealing to your audience.

No matter what you provide, it’s key to see how your Instagram page will overall fit into your marketing strategy so that you don’t waste time or money. As you create your list of goals, try to make them SMART goals. In other words, they should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. This approach not only provides clarity but also establishes a framework for tracking and evaluating your progress over time.

By intertwining thorough research and well-defined goals, you lay a solid foundation for a purpose-driven Instagram branding strategy. This strategic approach will guide your content creation, engagement tactics, and overall brand positioning on the platform.

2. Know Your Audience

Marketing results are always more transparent when you know who your audience is and how to target them. After all, you’d only waste time and effort if you accidentally marketed your coffee shop page to a group of people who never drank coffee, like kids.

Try developing some customer personas and think through your customer’s perspectives. Resonate with their pain points, what they might be looking for, and how your business can address their needs. As soon as you think like your customers, creating content will come so much easier.

Regularly analyze the performance of your content using Instagram Insights. Understand which posts resonate the most, when your audience is most active, and which hashtags are driving engagement. This data-driven approach allows you to refine your strategy based on what works best for your audience.

Tailor your content to align with the preferences of your target audience and center your content strategies around that. If your audience responds well to behind-the-scenes content, incorporate more of it. If they appreciate user-generated content, actively encourage and showcase contributions from your customers.

Conducting extensive audience research is fundamental to understanding the demographics, interests, and behaviors of your target audience. By identifying who you want to connect with on Instagram, you can tailor your content and engagement strategies to resonate with their preferences.

Knowing your audience on a profound level enables you to create content that not only captures attention but also fosters a sense of community and loyalty. As you continuously refine your understanding of your audience, your Instagram presence becomes a powerful tool for building lasting connections and driving business success.

3. Stalk the Competition

Your competitors were once in your shoes, so you can take advantage of the work they’ve already done. Studying up on your competitors’ strategies can provide invaluable insights and inspiration for enhancing your own Instagram presence.

Investigate who follows your competitors and engages with their content. This not only helps you understand your shared audience but also provides an opportunity to tap into a similar demographic. Identify common interests and preferences among their followers to tailor your content to a receptive audience.

Examine your competitors’ top-performing posts. Identify the content that garners the most likes, comments, and shares. Take note of the topics, visual styles, and captions that resonate with their audience. Understanding what works well for them can guide your content creation strategy.

Take note of the hashtags your competitors use. This not only helps you understand the trends in your industry but also provides an opportunity to join relevant conversations. Incorporate some of these hashtags into your own posts strategically to increase discoverability. As you immerse yourself in competitor research, you’ll likely notice recurring trends and successful strategies.

While competitor research is valuable, it’s essential to differentiate your brand. Identify areas where you can innovate and bring a unique perspective to your Instagram presence. This ensures that your content stands out and doesn’t simply replicate what others are doing. Adapt and innovate based on what you’ve observed to ensure your Instagram strategy remains fresh and appealing to your audience.

Competitor stalking isn’t about copying; it’s about learning from the successes and mistakes of others in your industry. By strategically incorporating these insights into your own Instagram strategy, you position yourself for success while maintaining the authenticity and uniqueness of your brand. You’ll find that once you do enough competitor research, you’ll notice a few trends and a list of ideas will come naturally.

4. Develop a Beautiful Theme/Focus

Remember how aesthetically pleasing it is to look at the Instagram feed of an account that clearly thought out their theme? Perhaps they have a consistent palette of colors, patterns, styles, and text that they execute into their content so well that you always instantly associate them with the brand. It’s a smart marketing tactic that you can implement for your content as well.

Having visually pleasing pictures of drinks and foods – as well as the products you serve them in – can make this job instantly easier. Feel free to explore what your competitors have or go on a free-range hunt and jot down what catches your eye. You can examine the overall layout and aesthetic of your competitors’ feeds. Note the visual cohesion and themes they maintain. While you should aim for a unique identity, drawing inspiration from successful feed layouts can guide your own efforts in creating a visually appealing and consistent brand presence.

Leverage the grid layout of your Instagram profile to tell a story. Plan your posts strategically, ensuring that they flow seamlessly when viewed together. This approach not only creates a visually engaging narrative but also encourages users to scroll through your entire feed.

Just like having seasonal branded cups or merch, you can also introduce seasonal or occasional themes to keep your content fresh and relevant. Whether it’s a holiday theme, seasonal ingredients, or special promotions, aligning your content with timely seasonal themes demonstrates dynamism and responsiveness.

A beautiful and well-thought-out theme not only makes your Instagram profile visually appealing but also contributes to brand recall. It’s a powerful tool for establishing a unique identity and creating a lasting impression on your audience. As you fine-tune your theme, remember that flexibility and creativity are key to keeping your Instagram presence vibrant and engaging.

5. Develop a Content Strategy

Instagram’s algorithm favors consistency, so this is where you’ll want to create a dedicated content calendar that lays out what you’re going to post and when to post regularly.

Whether you’re posting a photo or video, make sure that the content is of the highest quality for the best engagement rate. Optimize your captions with good SEO practices and do your research on the hashtags that relate most to the content. You can use up to a whopping maximum of 30 hashtags by getting creative, so take advantage of some of Instagram’s best tips and tricks.

In terms of creating the content, it can always be a good idea to hire a professional photographer or videographer to create high quality content to guarantee that it will exceed the expectations of your audience. Otherwise, you can utilize powerful tools like Adobe Illustrator or Canva to create amazing graphics with ready-made templates. Never forget to add a small logo image in the corner of every content piece as well to keep your branding consistent.

Experiment with a variety of content types to keep your audience engaged. Utilize Instagram’s features such as Stories, Reels, and carousel posts. A mix of content types not only caters to diverse preferences but also maximizes your visibility within the platform’s algorithm.

Beyond high-quality visuals, craft compelling narratives that resonate with your audience. Each post should tell a story, whether it’s about the inspiration behind a new dish, a day in the life of your team, or the story behind a unique ingredient. Authentic storytelling adds depth to your brand and encourages followers to engage on a more personal level. Take your audience behind the scenes to showcase the personality and hard work behind your brand. Introduce team members, share kitchen moments, or provide glimpses into your creative process. This transparency builds trust and fosters a genuine connection with your audience.

Stay on top of trending topics, challenges, and viral content within your industry. Participate in relevant trends to leverage the visibility they bring. This demonstrates your brand’s agility and keeps your content aligned with current conversations on the platform.

At the end of the day, you can also invite your audience to help you curate some user-generated content. Perhaps once a week, you can repost an image of someone’s order in your custom branded cups and highlight a glowing testimonial of what they liked. This is a great way to display authenticity and engage with customers that already love your brand.

A successful content strategy extends beyond mere posting schedules and hashtags. It involves a dynamic blend of creativity, storytelling, and audience interaction. By incorporating these elements, your Instagram presence becomes a vibrant and authentic representation of your brand, fostering lasting connections with your audience.

6. Engage, Engage, Engage

When your audience engages on your page by leaving comments and suggestions, you don’t want to ghost them. Just like in dealing with an online date that never responds, they’ll start to feel that your brand truly doesn’t care about them. That’s why you’ll want to make sure that a dedicated social media manager on your team takes the time to respond to every comment.

Additionally, it’s up to them to make sure that all direct messages are answered and that they utilize the plethora of engagement tools that Instagram offers to businesses. For instance, you can include a link within your branded stories, which can drive traffic to your main website. When about one-third of the most viewed Instagram stories are from businesses, there’s no denying the power they have.

Boost engagement by incorporating interactive elements into your content strategy. Host polls, quizzes, or ask open-ended questions in your captions or stories to encourage comments and direct interaction. This not only strengthens your community but also signals to the algorithm that your content is valuable and worthy of promotion.

Whatever it is that you do, putting in the effort to engage will make your audience feel involved within the community you’re trying to create. Also, don’t forget to take advantage of the data analytics that Instagram offers to help you track your KPI progress and create content that is truly engaging on your instagram account.

7. Creative Collaborations

Micro Influencers and user-generated-content, are behind one of the hottest digital marketing trends right now and there’s no reason not to explore their ROI potential as you continue to build your brand on Instagram. Because their platforms aren’t as big, your audience will trust them more as fans of your product.

Try to poke around your tagged photos and see who’s in love with the latest drink or food item on your menu. If you find a micro influencer who has great potential, reach out to them for a collaboration! Either they can post a sponsored photo on their platform, or you can increase your reach by hosting a giveaway with them. But it’s important to note that you should never overdo giveaways, because they can quickly drain your budget. Because at the end of the day nothing ever truly beats quality content in the first place.

In addition to exploring collaborations with micro-influencers, harness the authenticity and community-building potential of User-Generated Content (UGC). Actively encourage your audience to share their experiences with your brand by tagging your business or using a branded hashtag. UGC not only provides a diverse array of content but also serves as a powerful testimony to the positive interactions customers have with your products or services.

Regularly showcase UGC by reposting images and testimonials from your customers. This not only adds a genuine touch to your content but also strengthens the connection between your brand and your community. Consider implementing a weekly or monthly feature where you highlight a customer’s order, accompanied by a glowing testimonial. This not only celebrates your customers but also invites others to share their experiences, contributing to a continuous cycle of authentic engagement on your Instagram page.

Final Thoughts on How to Build a Brand on Instagram

Now that you know the basics of how to create a successful Instagram page, you’re probably giddy with excitement at the prospect of starting. But remember that the foundation of your online brand starts with a strong sense of your brand’s identity. Before diving headfirst into the world of social media platforms, take the time to define your brand’s values, mission, and unique offerings. Establishing a cohesive and authentic brand identity ensures that your Instagram business account becomes a true reflection of your business.

At Your Brand Cafe, we understand the importance of presenting your unique brand to the world. We specialize in premium custom printing for all your coffee shop and restaurant supply needs, helping you maximize the unique potential of your brand. From custom-branded cups and custom packaging to personalized merchandise, our premium printing solutions are designed to boost your brand image and leave a lasting impression on your customers.

And as you implement the strategies outlined, remember that consistency, authenticity, and engagement are the cornerstones of a successful Instagram brand. Whether you’re curating a visually stunning feed, collaborating with micro-influencers, or leveraging user-generated content, each step contributes to the narrative of your brand. Keep refining your approach based on insights, adapt to trends, and most importantly, enjoy the process of connecting with your audience on one of the most visually dynamic platforms – Instagram. Here’s to building a thriving brand that resonates, captivates, and leaves an indelible mark in the hearts of your customers. And if you need that extra boost to your brand make sure to contact Your Brand Cafe to help with all your custom printed branding needs.

Drew Thomas

Drew Thomas is a graduate of Georgia College & State University, where he earned his Bachelor's Degree in English Literature. He is an expert in brand marketing and has experience in freelance writing on topics ranging from sports to music reviews. He has also spent time as an editor, having revised website copy and press releases for local businesses. In his free time, Drew enjoys performing music, reading, hiking, and spending time with friends.