Inspiration From the Best Brand Strategies on Instagram.

Here’s your opportunity to learn from brands with standout Instagram strategies.
Caitlin Brennan
July 3, 2017 - 4 min. read

When you come across the best branded Instagram accounts, you may scroll past five pictures before you realize you’re being marketed to. We’re showcasing the best Instagram accounts that inspire us and their audiences. Each of these brands create images that seamlessly fit into any of their fans’ feeds. Check out the accounts below to learn how the best of the best are telling their brand stories. 

When you imagine Brooklyn, what comes to mind? (Aside from Falcon’s US office.) Perhaps you imagine mason jars, hipsters or an ice cream cone in a pair of boots? My friends, Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream has all three!

When it comes to capturing the aesthetic of urban chic meets tasty treat, Van Leeuwen takes the cake. Scrolling through their feed is like looking at a Pinterest board of someone who aspires to… open an ice cream shop in Brooklyn. It’s all fresh ingredients, pretty people and all the rich, creamy ice cream you can drool over. This is a corporate voice and ethos concentrated in a series of beautiful imagery.

Their images flow together well, they are well framed and often symmetrical. Precise photos evoke a sense of commitment to craftsmanship. Van Leeuwen’s account positions the brand as not just ice cream, but a lifestyle ice cream.

User-Generated Content Spotlight:
Delta Air Lines teamed up with travel influencers and inspirational travelers for their #TravelChangedMe campaign. Each post asks followers to share their stories about how travel has shaped their lives.

Airlines can generate their share of customer ire over lost luggage or canceled flights, which is evident in comments accompanying the posts.

One way around this is to offload the content to influencers. In the example below, Delta gets the shout-out and the content, but without the accompanying, “I’ve been stuck in Minneapolis for eight hours!” griping.

#sponsored I’ve teamed up with @Delta to share how travel has changed me over the years, and I hope it inspires you to share your experiences. How was travel opened your eyes? Use #TravelChangedMe and tell your story! ✈️ 🌎 ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• It's crazy to think about how travel has changed my perspective of the world. My first solo trip abroad lasted 90 days and took me to Australia, New Zealand and through Southeast Asia. I remember boarding my flight in Melbourne about to travel to Southeast Asia on my own. I sat next to a Thai girl (about my own age) on the flight and, in the course of the 9-hour journey to Bangkok, she completely changed her travel plans and joined me on a spontaneous trip through the islands of Thailand. It gave me the courage to continue traveling solo through Cambodia and Vietnam, and everywhere I went the kindness of strangers helped to guide me along the way. ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• I can still remember the initial fear of leaving the comforts of home, but I knew that I needed to step out of my comfort zone to grow into the person I wanted to be. I learned so much that summer about my own capabilities and passions that shaped me into the person I am today. 💕

A post shared by Kiki • The Blonde Abroad (@theblondeabroad) on

Making a boring product interesting:
Keeping with the travel theme, cult favorite Away Luggage has turned the utilitarian into art. Their Instagram account is full of beautiful images with often subtle branding.

How could this traveler have taken a photo of her chic meal without the charging station on her suitcase?

Recharge. Upload. And get back out there. 📷 @hangrydiary #travelaway

A post shared by Away (@away) on

In other posts, the luggage is a mere character in the scene rather than focal point. Away Luggage is also too cool to need to always be the center of attention. Scrolling through the photos you get the sense that the luggage is reliable and will be the perfect companion on your fashionable jaunts.

Backstage pass:
Television network BBC One offers fans a fun behind the scenes look into their popular shows. From on-set to hair and makeup touch-ups, BBC fans get a glimpse into what goes into making a TV show. You don’t need to be a production studio to capture fan’s attention by capturing how your product is made. Even a photo of your team brainstorming provides fans a glimpse into the inner workings and otherwise unseen elements that contribute to your company.

You may remember the contest kerfuffle recently weathered by swimsuit company Sunny Co. Their giveaway offer promised a free red suit to anyone who reposted their Instagram post. Unfortunately, the company couldn’t keep up with the demand and quickly got in over their heads. It turns out there are a lot of people with Instagram accounts who would do nearly anything for free stuff.

Benefit Cosmetics is a glossy example of how to correctly hold giveaways. The brand regularly promotes giveaways that generate huge responses. Cleverly, to enter the contests, participants need to follow the brand and share the contest. For the relatively small cost of their products, Benefit generates huge buzz.

Seasonally appropriate:
Pumpkin spice isn’t the only seasonal delight served at Dunkin’ Donuts. The coffee chain’s Instagram is seasonally delicious. Dunkin’ looked to their customers for inspiration and regularly post UGC featuring well-lit hands hoisting a cup of coffee. Their aesthetic is simple, clean and vibrant, and speaks to a more playful and youthful vibe.

Best Instagram

You don’t need a million dollar marketing budget to get attention on Instagram. The brands we’ve highlighted know their target audience and the kind of imagery that resonates with them. When you need inspiration, scroll through photos of some of your biggest fans.

Do their images look like the images you post? If not, take a page from their book and try to mirror what you see.

And if you’re looking for more inspiration for your Instagram feed, try these 21 tips.

The Essential Instagram Guide for Marketers.

Download the guide for useful tips on building your Instagram business brand.

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