Nowadays, Instagram is often someone's initial contact with a brand, and at least 30% of Instagram users have purchased a product they first discovered on the platform. If it's the entryway for one third of your potential sales, don't you want it to look clean and inviting?
Taking the time to create an engaging Instagram feed aesthetic is one of the most effective ways to persuade someone to follow your business's Instagram account, or peruse your posts. You only have one chance to make a good first impression -- similar to the importance of creating a well-designed website, its critical you put effort into your Instagram feed.
Since it's often easiest to learn by example, we've cultivated a list of 12 stunning Instagram themes to inspire your own feed's transformation. Beware, these feeds are so desirable, you'll have a hard time choosing just one.
- Black and White
- Bright Colors
- One Color
- Two Colors
- One Theme
- Horizontal Lines
- Black or White Borders
- Same Filter
- Mix-and-match Horizontal and Vertical Borders
- Dark Colors
1. Black and White
A polished black and white theme is a good choice if you're trying to evoke a sense of sophistication. The lack of color draws you into the photo's main subject, and suggests a timeless element to your business. @Lisedesmet's black and white feed, for instance, urges the user to pay close attention to the image's subject, like the black sneakers or white balloon.
2. Bright Colors
If your company's brand is meant to imply playfulness or fun, there's probably no better way than to create a feed full of bright colors. Bright colors are attention-grabbing and lighthearted, which could be ideal for attracting a younger audience. @Aww.sam's feed, for instance, showcases someone who doesn't take herself too seriously.
For an artsier edge, consider taking a minimalist approach to your feed, like @windowofimagination does. The images are inviting in their simplicity, and cultivate feelings of serenity and stability. Plus, minimalist feeds are less distracting by nature, so it can be easier to get a true sense of the brand from the feed alone, without clicking on individual posts.
4. One Color
One of the easiest ways to pick a theme for your feed is to choose one color and stick to it -- this can help steer your creative direction, and looks clean and cohesive from afar. It's particularly appealing if you choose an aesthetically-pleasing and calm color, like the soft pink used in @wildehousepaper's feed.
5. Two Colors
If you're interested in creating a highly cohesive feed but don't want to stick to the one color theme, consider trying two. Two colors can help your feed look organized and clean — plus, if you choose branded colors, it can help you create cohesion between your other social media sites or website itself.
Image courtesy of dreaming_outloud
Similar to the one color idea, it might be useful to choose one color palette for your feed, like @creativekipi's use of pastels. Pastels in particular, often used for Easter eggs or cupcake decorations, appear childlike and cheerful. Plus, they're captivating and unexpected.
7. One Theme
As evident from @mustdoflorida's feed (and username), it's possible to focus your feed on one singular object or idea -- like beach-related objects in @mustdoflorida's posts. If you're aiming to showcase your creativity or photography skills, it could be compelling to create a feed where each post follows one theme.
Creating a puzzle out of your feed is complicated and takes some planning, but can reap big rewards in terms of uniqueness and engaging an audience. @Wearewildbloom's posts, for instance, make the most sense when you look at it from the feed, rather than individual posts. It's hard not to be both impressed and enthralled by the final result, and if you post puzzle piece pictures individually, you can evoke serious curiosity from your followers.
9. Horizontal Lines
If your brand does well aligning photography with content, you might consider organizing your posts in a thoughtful way -- for instance, creating either horizontal or vertical lines, with your rows alternating between quotes with plain backdrops, and images. @Personaljourneyapp employs this tactic, and their feed looks clean and intriguing as a result.
If you're not a big fan of horizontal or vertical lines, you might try a checkerboard theme. Similar to horizontal lines, this theme allows you to alternate between content and images, but additionally, the checkerboard, as seen in @Oneartsymama's feed, evokes a sense of playfulness and creativity.
11. Black or White Borders
While it is a bit jarring to have black or white borders outlining every image, it definitely sets your feed apart from everyone else's. @Beautifulandyummy, for instance, uses black borders to draw attention to her images, and the finished feed looks both polished and sophisticated. This is likely more successful if you're aiming to sell fashion products, or want to evoke an edgier feel.
12. Same Filter
If you prefer uniformity, you'll probably like this Instagram theme, which focuses on using the same filter (or set of filters) for every post. From close up, this doesn't make much difference on your images, but from afar, it definitely makes the feed appear more cohesive. @Nadia_Rachel92, for example, is able to make her posts of family, friends, and travel seem more refined and professional, simply by using the same filter for all her posts.
If your primary goal with Instagram is to showcase your products, you might want a Flatlay theme. Flatlay is an effective way to tell a story simply by arranging objects in an image a certain way, and makes it easier to captivate viewers' attention on a product. As seen in @thedailyedited's feed, a flatlay theme looks fresh and modern.
If it aligns with your brand, vintage is a creative and striking aesthetic that looks both artsy and laid-back. And, while "vintage" might sound a little bit vague, it's easy to conjure. Simply try a filter like Slumber or Aden (built into Instagram), or play around with a third-party editing tool to find a soft, hazy filter that makes your photos look like they were taken from an old polaroid camera.
Image courtesy of rusticbones
In @girleatworld's Instagram account, you can count on one thing to remain consistent throughout her feed: she's always holding up food in her hand. This type of repetition looks clean and engaging, and as a follower, it means I always recognize one of her posts as I'm scrolling through my own feed. Consider how you might evoke similar repetition in your own posts to create a brand image all your own.
Image courtesy of girleatworld
16. Mix-and-match Horizontal and Vertical Borders
While this admittedly requires some planning, the resulting feed is incredibly eye-catching and unique. Simply use the Preview app and choose two different white borders, Vela and Sole, to alternate between horizontal and vertical borders. The resulting feed will look spaced out and clean.
Image courtesy of andrewtkearns
If you're a writer or content creator, you might consider creating an entire feed of quotes, like @thegoodquote feed, which showcases quotes on different mediums, ranging from paperback books to Tweets. Consider typing your quotes and changing up the color of the background, or handwriting your quotes and placing them near interesting objects like flowers or a coffee mug.
Image courtesy of thegoodquote
18. Dark Colors
@JackHarding's nature photos are nothing short of spectacular, and he highlights their beauty by filtering with a dark overtone. To do this, consider desaturating your content and using filters with more cool colors, like greens and blues, rather than warm ones. The resulting feed looks clean, sleek, and professional.
Image courtesy of jackharding
One way to introduce color into your feed? Try creating a rainbow by slowly progressing your posts through the colors of the rainbow, starting at red and ending at purple (and then, starting all over again). The resulting feed is stunning.
Image courtesy of sarah_peretz
Most people on Instagram stick to photos and filters, so to stand out, you might consider adding drawings or cartoon doodles on top of (or replacing) regular photo posts. This is a good idea if you're an artist or a web designer and want to draw attention to your artistic abilities — plus, it's sure to get a smile from your followers, like these adorable doodles shown below by @josie.doodles.
Image courtesy of josie.doodles
How to Create an Instagram Theme
1. Choose a consistent color palette.
One major factor of any Instagram theme is consistency. For instance, you wouldn't want to regularly change your theme from black-and-white to rainbow — this could confuse your followers and damage your brand image. Of course, a complete company rebrand might require you to shift your Instagram strategy, but for the most part, you want to stay consistent with the types of visual content you post on Instagram.
For this reason, you'll need to choose a color palette to adhere to when creating an Instagram theme. Perhaps you choose to use brand colors. HubSpot's Instagram, for instance, primarily uses blues, oranges, and teal, three colors prominently displayed on HubSpot's website and products.
Alternatively, maybe you choose one of the themes listed above, such as black-and-white. Whatever the case, to create an Instagram theme, it's critical you stick to a few colors throughout all of your content.
2. Use the same filter for each post, or edit each post similarly.
As noted above, consistency is a critical element in any Instagram theme, so you'll want to find your favorite 1-3 filters and use them for each of your posts. You can use Instagram's built-in filters, or try an editing app like VSCO or Snapseed. Alternatively, if you're going for a minimalist look, you might skip filters entirely and simply use a few editing features, like contrast and exposure.
Whatever you choose, though, you'll want to continue to edit each of your posts similarly to create a cohesive feed.
3. Use a visual feed planner to plan posts far in advance.
It's vital that you plan your Instagram posts ahead of time for a few different reasons, including ensuring you post a good variety of content and that you post it during a good time of day.
Additionally, when creating an Instagram theme, you'll need to plan posts in advance to figure out how they fit together — like puzzle pieces, your individual pieces of content need to reinforce your theme as a whole.To plan posts far in advance and visualize how they reinforce your theme, you'll want to use a visual Instagram planner like Later or Planoly. Best of all, you can use these apps to preview your feed and ensure your theme is looking the way you want it to look before you press "Publish" on any of your posts.
4. Don't lock yourself into a theme you can't enjoy for the long-haul.
In middle school, I often liked to change my "look" — one day I aimed for preppy, and the next I chose a more athletic look. Of course, as I got older, I began to understand what style I could stick with for the long-haul, and shopped for clothes that fit my authentic style so I wasn't constantly purchasing new clothes and getting sick of them a few weeks later.
Similarly, you don't want to choose an Instagram theme you can't live with for a long time. Your Instagram theme should be an accurate reflection of your brand, and if it isn't, it probably won't last. Just because rainbow colors sound interesting at the get-go doesn't mean it's a good fit for your company's social media aesthetic as a whole.
When in doubt, choose a more simple theme that provides you the opportunity to get creative and experiment without straying too far off-theme.
Originally published Aug 27, 2018 6:00:00 AM, updated September 08 2020