3 Brands Cracking The Visual Code on Instagram

Nowhere is visual originality more necessary than on Instagram, the social platform built for showcasing images. So how can your company stand out on social media when visual disruptiveness is the status quo? The key is to source exceptional images that align with your marketing strategy. While some companies — like those featured below — create their visuals in-house, many rely on premium-quality stock imagery to achieve an equally engaging aesthetic.

Here, we highlight three brands that consistently post compelling images, and show you how stock can be your source for high-quality visual content that will help your brand stand out.

MATCHA.MIYA: Embrace Ritual

This small-but-mighty brand has made an art out of elevating the ordinary to the realms of the extraordinary. They have embraced a Marie Kondo-esque minimalism that sparks joy in their more than 20K followers.

Why do they stand out? Because they are so quiet.

The design of their grid — even the choice to use more white space around each image — communicates a peaceful, Zen-like energy, making the feed itself a space where their customers can find some breathing room, and visually immerse themselves in the ritual of enjoying a healthy cup of tea.

Every image is of exceptional quality; each is carefully thought-out and deliberately positioned to align with their mission of creating “A Ritual of Beauty, Wellness & Wisdom.”

Key Takeaways

  • Be subtle. Your brand does not have to scream in order to be noticed. Sometimes the quietest person in the room is the one who commands the most attention.
  • Create the mood, and the commerce will follow. Matcha Miya posts few product shots, focusing instead on their overall brand aesthetic. They have fully embraced the visuals-first nature of Instagram, and carefully create and curate their imagery. This is a welcome respite for customers who are often bombarded by aggressive sales messages.
  • Always align imagery with your brand’s mission and personality. Seems obvious, we know, but brands are sometimes tempted to visually stray from their core mission. Matcha Miya embraces good health, and the wellness ritual of drinking tea — and they communicate this every single time, with every single image.
  • Achieve a similar aesthetic by leading with design across all social platforms. For example, be thoughtful in planning the layout of your brand’s Instagram feed and Pinterest boards. Create templates for quote graphics so that their design is consistent.

Harry’s: Create Connection

You can always tell when a brand really understands their customers. With a savvy, seemingly effortless combination of artfully staged product photos, envy-inducing décor images, colorful flat-lays, empathetic quotes, and “I’m so that guy” lifestyle shots, Harry’s comes across as relatable, friendly, and accessible. Their strategy? Make a genuine connection.

Every post says, “We know you; we see you; we get you; we are you.” They have visually conquered the social in social media — and their 70K followers love them for it.

Compared to Matcha Miya’s strict grid, Harry’s posts feel more fluid and relaxed, embracing life’s chaos in their pursuit of social media perfection.

Key Takeaways

  • Be aspirational, but accessible. There is a sweet spot between the two approaches that can be key in building customer loyalty. Harry’s mixes crisp, highly stylized, inspirational product images with more laissez-faire, relatable lifestyle shots — and it totally works.
  • Communicate with color. The brand’s palette of bright blues, yellows, and oranges, with a touch of millennial pink makes their feed fresh, engaging, and visually compelling.
  • Achieve a similar aesthetic by embracing fun. If playfulness is a part of your brand’s identity, make sure that that is reflected in the styling of your imagery across all social media platforms.

National Geographic Travel: Inspire Awe

National Geographic Travel is the ultimate travel feed, with each image more monumental than the last. Their Instagram strategy is simple: boggle the mind — and inspire serious #FOMO — by serving up extraordinary travel photos that (literally) go beyond the usual tourist hubs to explore roads less traveled.

Their goal is to showcase rarely seen parts of the world and slices of life — and with more than 29 million followers, they are clearly doing it right.

This brand stands out on social media because of the uniqueness, quality, and grandeur of their photography, often using full-bleed, immersive, almost overpowering images.

Key Takeaways

  • Go big or go home. In other words, source and post only the best images. Instagram is not a platform on which brands can coast by with mediocre visuals. NatGeo sources their content from top-tier photographers around the globe, and is constantly raising the bar.
  • Tell the story behind the images. The visuals are, naturally, of primary importance. But a part of this brand’s success comes from including additional context about each location in the caption.
  • Achieve a similar aesthetic by using unique points of view, unusual angles, and extreme close-ups in your visual content. Want a little inspo? Check out these incredible shots by our top landscape photographer.

These companies all exhibit unbridled creativity, and an unwavering commitment to ensuring that every image delivers on their brand promise. So how can you make your brand visually disruptive? That’s where Shutterstock comes in. We know how important it is for you to stand out, and we offer a seamless solution to help you source amazing, inspiring, high-quality content.

It’s not stock. It’s Shutterstock.

Shutterstock is an all-in-one creative platform that offers best-in-class visual assets, easy-to-use tools, and reliable support to empower how brands connect with customers.

We supercharge our customers’ creativity by providing access to an extensive library of over 200 million images, video clips, and music tracks, created by more than 550,000 contributors across the globe. Our extensive content library is one of the main reasons why leading global brands rely on us for assets that are dramatic, unexpected, thought-provoking, and, of course, high-quality.

We’ve also have developed tools that make it easier for brands to create memorable content that resonates deeply with customers. Our recent innovations include advanced search filters, next-gen “composition aware” search functionality, an Adobe plugin that instantly connects the entire Shutterstock library to your workflow, and a powerful mobile app that enables on-the-go creativity. In addition, we’ve created Shutterstock Editor, which makes it easy to size and customize images for every major social media platform.

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