5 Tips to JUMP-START Your Visual Brand Strategy
Hi there! I'm Ashley O'Neill, a brand strategist, creative director and designer. I'm a New Orleans native and after a few years of owning my own business as a digital marketing strategist for lifestyle & fashion brands, I switched gears to try things out on the client-side as the social media manager for KREWE.
Now that I'm not working for myself and no longer naturally creating a lot of content (i.e. Getting to work when the sun comes up and leaving when it's dark outside!!! CRAZY!), the importance of building a personal brand, no matter what your job is, has escalated.
Digitally, your personal brand can live in a couple of different places. I'm going to focus on Instagram, the platform that my career has been influenced and built from. Creatives use it as a portfolio, side-hustlers use it to support their business, influencers use it to build their kingdoms and make money! The internet is the wild wild west and anything can happen! You're powerful! Show your work! OK, let's talk about the 5 things you should do to jumpstart your visual brand strategy.
Niche is always better—always. You have to start focused in order to expand. I advocate for choosing 3-7 things you always post about. With KREWE, for example, we post a frame, an on-brand photo of New Orleans (#KREWEVibes) and our frames on a person (user-generated, celebrity or in-house editorial photos). Because of this, our Instagram is visually consistent & cohesive.
For me, I post outfits, commercial interiors, product-focused shots (food/cocktails, beauty product flatlays, and my organized flat surfaces ;)) and on-brand travel imagery.
What is your aesthetic? What colors are you drawn to? What do you typically wear? What does your house look like? If this is in regard to your business—think about how you want to present your brand. What are your brands colors? Who is your audience? What service do you provide/product do you sell and how is that best represented visually?
My personal account is also, technically, my business account. If I get booked for any branding, art direction or styling jobs, it's usually coming from Instagram or word of mouth. My aesthetic is eccentric and luxurious while still remaining modern; I love velvet, gold accents, mixing prints, & dynamic angles. My photos represent this, but on my feed, there's gotta be balance and white space because of my affinity for modernism.
How are you going to make this content? Free stock photography? Hiring a photographer to create content weekly? Creating graphics using Photoshop or Canva? Your iPhone? There's no wrong way to make content!
I use my iPhone for almost all of my content, and the content I don't create is either an inspirational image (credited!) or from a photographer I've worked with. Make sure you're creating relevant, quality content on a consistent basis. Since I've started this job, I haven't been creating or posting as much, and my growth on Instagram is at a standstill. I'm currently working to change this. You have to provide your audience something of worth! Even if you only post 3 times per week, as long as those posts are quality & consistently providing some sort of value, you're golden.
Editing! Editing is a major part of making your imagery consistent. I use a platform called VSCOcam with the filter A6. All my images are edited the same: a little boost in exposure, contrast, sharpening & saturation. Once you figure out your editing style, you'll be able to create consistent visual content.
Planoly & Preview
Planning the feed. This is HUGE for me! I use the app Preview, which is free. Planoly is an amazing platform for feed & story scheduling, analytics and managing multiple accounts.
Planning your feed in advance is one of the BEST ways to strategize your content. You can plan campaigns, announcements, blog posts, literally any content weeks in advance and make sure your feed is evenly distributed.
One businesswoman who absolutely KILLS at this is Minmoo Studio. She variates from inspiration image to her logo work to her brand imagery to a gorgeous interior. It's amazing, consistent and beautifully done!