Build Your Brand On Instagram

Instagram is an ideal platform for showcasing quality images and videos to increase your brand’s online personality and credibility. To determine if Instagram is a good fit for your brand, here are some stats and examples of how companies are currently maximizing their use of the platform.

The bullets below from Sprout Social point to the fact that Instagram users tend to skew slightly more female and younger.

  • 29% of all online females use Instagram
  • 22% of all online males use Instagram
  • 53% of all online users between the ages of 18-29 use Instagram.

In recent months, Instagram's engagement has been many times that of Facebook and Twitter

In the BufferApp Blog graph, we see that more people are engaging on Instagram over Facebook and Twitter; including commenting, liking, and tagging their friends on video and photo posts. Engagement demonstrates the level of interest people have in that post. The more engagement, the more eyeballs you have on your brand. According to eBiz MBA, Instagram is the #1 photo sharing website in the US from registered Instagram users, compared to sites like Photobucket and Flickr.

American Apparel

American Apparel has a large following of over 42k and maximizes their use of Instagram by showcasing their products in an edgy style. They often let their employees pose wearing their outfits and include common hashtags like #AmericanApparel or #MadeInUSA. Should you choose to use Instagram, follow American Apparel’s lead. Create a unique brand hashtag and include it in all your posts. This will allow people to easily find you.

Photo by American Apparel USA

In this American Apparel post, the hashtag #AAemployees is used, letting us know the woman wearing it is an employee. By using an employee to showcase their attire, this gives American Apparel a less corporate image and allows them to appear more attainable. This is a great strategy as people want to be able to relate to a brand, and many look at runway models as a more distant fantasy.

Without the caption in this post, nobody would have known this was an employee. Also, including the name of the product in the caption allows customers to be able to shop for it later. Entrepreneur says, the best types of captions to elicit responses from your followers include questions or long descriptions with no questions.


WeddingWire posts nostalgic, positive photographs that speak directly to their audience. In their mix of high quality images, they incorporate headlines and questions over their photographs such as, “where should you honeymoon?” or “10 things every couple forgets to factor into their wedding day timeline” and other attention grabbing titles in addition to their captions.

photo by WeddingWire

Earlier this year, they posted a contest called “Just Said Yes”. The caption states, “Share your #JustSaidYes for a chance to win a mini-moon @ParadisusResorts by tonight (2/20) at 11:59pm ET!! @WhitneyEvePort will be announcing the winner next week! PS: You must be following @WeddingWire to be considered for entry. – Click the link in our bio for Official Rules. Tag your friends who may have missed this!”

This is a great example of how to run a contest on Instagram because:

  • They’re using a contest-specific hashtag
  • Requires people follow the company, so that helps increase followers
  • They have an enticing prize to draw applicants
  • The cover photo is a good summary of how to participate in the contest
  • The rules are simple to participate

They ended up receiving over 6,000 uses of the contest-specific hashtag, according to Mobile Commerce Daily. Running a contest provides the opportunity to have your followers post their photos and videos and tag your product. Re-posting user-generated content also gives you credibility. By not being afraid to share others’ posts and providing homage to the original user, you appear more friendly and trustworthy to your audience.

33 Acres Brewing

Another brand we love on Instagram is 33 Acres Brewing, a microbrewery in Vancouver. Reasons why we love them are because they are an example of a smaller operation (not a national chain) who manage to produce great content, a consistent brand image, and a large following despite their size. Their Instagram page features their beer, but also beautiful, simple plates of food and coffee. They have only the one location, but currently have over 13,000 followers.

photo by 33 Acres Bewing

This example from their page shows how a minimalist, but visually-appealing photo of their product can still be engaging. With a simple hashtag, caption, and image, they have received over 200 likes and several comments. Take a tip from these guys and utilize various angles to keep it interesting. If you’re a smaller company and can’t hire a professional photographer, take a clear picture from your mobile device and add a filter. There are many free photo editing apps you can download to give your image the refined look it needs.


If you decide to use Instagram to market your brand, realize that a lack of effort on your part to make your profile engaging could potentially do more harm than good. Take advantage of these company’s strategies by making clear, relevant captions and post captivating photos that will reflect the quality of your brand. Identify your target audience and engage with them by creating brand specific hashtags, contests, and regram others appropriately. Remember, Instagram is a place to show your brand’s personality, so have some fun with it.
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