Instagram is full of strong personal brands and identities that people love to follow. Those successful thought leaders, top influencers and personal brands on Instagram invest tons of time and energy in developing a personal brand.
You might feel like you’ll never build your brand this strongly- or feel that because other people are already doing it well, there’s no room for you!
Well, stop that self-doubt right this minute! 🙅♀️
Instagram is a place to get inspiration and connect – and there’s no limit on who you choose to get that from. After all, this isn’t Myspace’s Top 8! #SorryTom
To get in front of new followers with your Instagram account and build a target audience of people who love your brand, you need to stand out from the start.
You can do that with our handy-dandy personal branding formula.
Below, we’re walking you how to define a personal brand on Instagram with actionable tips and processes that real branding experts and agencies use every day!
Plus, we’ve included additional reading resources from around the web to check out if you want to dive more into the specifics. 📚
Ready to start branding yourself on Instagram? Let’s get to it.
What is personal branding?
Your personal brand is the purpose behind your outward-facing communications with the world. It’s how your skills, experience, and personality – basically, who you are as a person – are presented to the world both online and offline.
A personal brand is not just three major bullet points that you check off a list and always say or do. Nearly everything that the world can see about you contributes to your personal brand–building strategy!
That’s why it’s so personal. It’s your story and identity!
Coding that into an easily recognizable, understandable and likable online presence takes a lot of thought and intention on the back end, but it pays off when you attract the people who genuinely like, trust and support you!
The 6 Personal Branding Techniques that Will Set You Apart on Instagram
These six personal branding strategy pieces will help you figure out how to build a personal brand online.
1. Begin With Research In Your Niche
Starting with a basic idea of what you want to offer or achieve on Instagram, it’s time to take a careful look at who and what already exists in your space.
Do your research into the market first to observe three things: existing competitors and personalities, hashtag trends, and content themes.
We’ll break it down below!
Identify a few key terms around your personal and professional brand related to your personal brand statement, location, and style. You can start typing this into Instagram search, and relevant profiles, locations, and hashtags will begin to pop up!
This is an easy way to see top players and trends in the market. First, take a look at relevant influencers, personalities, and brands!
Research Competing Brands
What’s working? What’s not? Are there any takeaways you can use to differentiate your personal branding on Instagram?
Note that just because someone is doing well in the space you’ve chosen, doesn’t mean they’re a competitor or an enemy! As you’re browsing, make note of other personal brands you’d like to collaborate with or network with.
As you peruse, note the hashtags these personal brands frequently use to explore opportunities to attract similar audiences.
Additional Reading 📚
📗How to Start a Competitor Analysis on Instagram – Socialinsider Blog
📗9 Things to Consider When Conducting a Competitor Audit on Instagram – Mention
Hashtag research will help you uncover trending hashtags in your industry, as well as reveal additional hashtags you can use to gain more exposure.
Plus, you can find more top influencers in your industry by investigating the top of the hashtag explore page and making note of who appears on it frequently.
Tailwind’s Hashtag Finder will help you complete your hashtag research in minutes and find the best hashtags to use for Instagram. Simply begin typing a caption or enter a few hashtags to get started!
You’ll see suggested hashtags populate in real-time as you type, color-coded by level of competitiveness. Hovering over a suggested hashtag will show you how many posts are attached to that hashtag!
No one wants to do hashtag research over and over again. So, start building a list of up to 30 hashtags (aim for a mix of Niche, Good, Best and Competitive for best results). Then save them into your Hashtag Lists with one click!
Try it out for yourself by grabbing a free trial of Tailwind for Instagram.
Make Note of Trends and Content Styles
While you’re poking around Instagram explore pages, it helps to note what kind of content is consistently landing in top posts.
Look for insights like photo subjects, photo styles, caption styles and aesthetics to give you important clues about what resonates to people with this interest.
2. Understand the Core of Your Brand Personality
One of our favorite resources to really get down to your personal brand archetype is the tried-and-true Brand Dimensions created by Jennifer Aaker.
These are taught in university classes and often used by designers and agencies to understand brand personality!
Brand Dimensions by Jennifer Aaker
The five core dimensions of brand personality are Sincerity, Excitement, Competence, Sophistication, and Ruggedness.
Let’s take a look at the traits associated with each!
3. Assign Your Key Self-Brand Traits
Each of the five core dimensions comes along with traits. You can use these traits as inspirational words, or as a jumping-off point to search for similar words and phrases that evoke your specific traits!
Sincerity: Down-to-earth, honest, wholesome, cheerful, family-oriented, small-town, real, original, friendly, sentimental
Excitement: Daring, spirited, imaginative, up-to-date, trendy, young, cool, unique, contemporary, independent
Competence: Reliable, hard-working, secure, intelligent, technical, corporate, successful, leader, confident
Sophistication: Upper class, glamorous, good-looking, charming, feminine, smooth
Ruggedness: Outdoorsy, masculine, tough, western, rugged
As we mentioned before, don’t feel constrained by these traits! You can mix, match and blend traits – or invent new ones – to create a personal branding that’s uniquely you.
4.Create a Brand Mood Board
Now that you’re identifying the traits that create your brand personality, it’s time to add visual themes to those words.
Creating a mood board will help! A mood board is the visual manifestation of your brand.
It helps guide you to express the mood and feeling you want your followers to experience when they visit your page or interact with you.
Using visual elements opens your eyes to colors, typefaces, motifs, images, and icons that communicate your branding to your followers’ senses.
This exercise will help you narrow down the type of content you want to focus on, how you present it, and what themes emerge!
How to Create a Mood Board:
- Identify the mood or feeling you would like your followers to feel when they interact with your brand – ex: rejuvenated and calm
- Search Google to find related words, phrases, and quotes that dive a little bit deeper into that mood or feeling.
- Check out Pinterest, stock photo sites and the internet for images that express the feelings you’re capturing
- Start dropping in images, quotes into a collage. You can use Photoshop, Canva or a handy design tool like Easil!
5. Narrow In On Your Visual Branding Elements
At this point in your personal branding process, it would be a great time to bring in a graphic designer to help you create visual assets that clearly convey your brand purpose and aesthetic!
However, that’ not always in the cards for new brands and solopreneurs who are just establishing their business. We get it!
You can always bring in a graphic design resource when you’re better positioned to handle the expense.
This intro to visual branding elements and how to use them will help guide you as you’re first getting started.
Important note: a typeface is an overall style of characters within typography, while a font is a complete set within a typeface. Think of Typeface as a parent category.
Check out the additional reading section for an in-depth guide to how all that works – plus a primer on the many sub-categories of each typeface!
In the meantime, let’s talk about some overall traits of each typeface and how they help you communicate your brand well.
Serif Traits: Classic, elegance, maturity, style
Serif Brand Dimension Matches: Competence, Sophistication
If your brand personality is sophisticated or competent, a Serif font would communicate aspects of your brand well. These are seen often in high-end luxury brands and communicate stability, timelessness, and respectability.
Sans Serif Traits: Simplicity, modern, minimalist, informal
Sans Serif Brand Dimension Matches: Sincerity, Excitement
If your brand personality is sincerity or excitement, a Sans Serif font would translate well, depending on the particular font style you choose.
Sans serif typeface is one of the most versatile around.
It has clean, minimal lines that can either convey down-to-earth, honest vibes or trendy, modern and youthful feelings.
Slab Serif Traits: Confidence, balance, ruggedness, security
Slab Serif Brand Dimension Matches: Competence, Ruggedness
If your brand personality is competence or ruggedness, Slab Serif font is the perfect blend of the security of a Serif, with the modern versatility of a Sans Serif.
Slab serif typeface presents masculine because of solid, stable strength in the blocky feet, yet a little less serious and austere than Serifs with smooth lines and rounding.
This makes it a fit for Ruggedness and Competence styled brands, depending on the colors and motif stylings it’s paired with!
Script Traits: Delicate, feminine, creative, romantic, natural
Sans Serif Brand Dimension Matches: Sincerity, Sophistication
If your brand personality is sincerity or sophistication, a script font would speak to the desires of your followers and clients.
The psychology behind Script typeface will change with individual font presentation. However, all provide a feeling of warmth and welcoming, as well as a sense of creativity.
This is a great jumping-off point for identifying the typefaces and font styles that pair best with your brand personality but don’t be afraid to do some digging.
Individual fonts are hand-created with emotion and style in mind – so a competent brand may find a perfect Script font, and an exciting brand may find a Serif font that perfectly conveys its meaning!
Choosing an Instagram color palette is a highly personal choice, that depends a lot on the type of brand you are and what you want to convey.
Don’t just choose a color palette at random, or one that’s trendy right now. If it’s not a solid match with your personal brand, you may have to change it in a few years. Nobody wants that!
Instead, take stock of what you collected in your early research. What content, colors, and styles really speak to followers of that niche? What colors convey your brand personality (check out our additional reading section for a color psychology primer!)?
What colors are going to be easiest to capture in your everyday content (ie, don’t pick neon colors if you always take photos outside in a forest).
Weighing trends, content preferences, and your brand story will help you arrive at a solid color theme that will help you connect with your followers more than ever!
6. Update Your Instagram Profile to Reflect Your Personal Brand
Once you’ve laid the foundation of a strong personal brand, you want to make sure that your profile clearly conveys it.
Rebrand with details that will create the best Instagram profile you can imagine for your personal brand!
Make a plan to update the following assets on your profile:
- Your profile photo
- Your profile name and your @userhandle (if applicable)
- Your Instagram Story Highlight Covers
- Your Instagram bio – this should clearly spell out your brand purpose and identity
- Your Instagram bio link – snag a free branded version like Tailwind’s Smart.bio
Make sure you have all these assets in order before updating! A staggered update of all the major details on your profile may quickly confuse and alienate your followers.
Need inspo? Chloe Bubert talks about the way she planned a brand refresh (for months!) in our article about self-branding!
Schedule Your New Instagram Branded Content
The last thing to do is to schedule new content to build your personal brand on Instagram.
Besides using our Smart Schedule tool to schedule your posts for the times when your followers are most active, you can also research tons of hashtags in minutes and even save your favorites.
That means your linked posts will update on your Smart.bio landing page as soon as your posts go live, helping you drive traffic from Instagram to your personal websites or blog posts with ease.
Want to check it out for yourself? Snag a free trial of Tailwind for Instagram today!