Instagram themes are staple of the platform’s most successful accounts. Quality photographs are a golden rule, yes – but so is having a consistent aesthetic that captures your audience’s attention.
Think about some of your favourite profiles; chances are, they’ve got some sort of visual concept that ties their whole feed together. This could be in their color pallette, subject matter, location, or editing style.
This uniform idea is known as an Instagram theme, and when done right – can work wonders for your content engagement.
Why Have an Instagram Theme?
There are two main reasons to have an Instagram theme: brand identity and visual appeal.
With a solid, unique Instagram theme, your brand is instantly recognizable. It establishes an overarching design for your feed that helps your name stand out on the platform. Instagram user @skraften (pictured below), for example, is known for the monochromatic theme of their photography-based profile.
Instagram themes are also an effective way of helping your photos flow together naturally. Visitors form their first impression based off of your feed’s first nine photos; so the better you impress with your first three rows, the more likely you’ll gain a new follower. An engaging theme that makes your entire feed a visual experience will help you achieve this.
How to Make an Instagram Theme – A Step-By-Step Guide
Forming an Instagram theme is crucial in planning your feed. To boost engagement and hook in new viewers, we’ve outlined the main steps to a perfect theme below.
Step 1: What’s Your Profile Niche?
Before diving head-first into your content appearance, you must firstly determine what your profile is all about.
An interesting Instagram theme can’t replace true content quality. You can have the prettiest edits with a dazzling color scheme – but if your actual posts hold no value or focus, you’ll struggle to build an audience.
Think about your goals for your Instagram account. Why did you make one in the first place? What ideas are you looking to share? Make a solid decision for your content’s subject matter, one that you can consistently stick to. It’s therefore recommend to pick a topic that interests you; or forming content that furthers your online business.
If you already have an existing feed (and are simply looking to refine you theme), it helps to look back at your top-performing posts.
You can use those that have gained the best engagement as a basis for further defining your niche in future posts.
Step 2: Pick a Mood or Color Pallette
Your next goal would be to select an overarching color scheme. This is one of the easiest methods of forming a visual theme, and instantly ties your photos together.
According to Iconosquare, it’s best to decide on up to three main colors to stick to with your posts. Ideally, you want these colors to show up in every image, but being present at least once in each row should be consistent enough.
These can be as stark or as soft as you wish, depending on your aesthetic preferences. For example, Courtney Quinn of @colormecourtney has vibrant, retro-like colors of blue, pink and yellow with each post.
While @coffeemeetsbagel uses many of the same hues, they opt for a much more subtle, pastel feel.
One evokes excitement, while the other a sense of romance and sentiment. Experiment with what best reflects the “vibe” of your brand and the overall mood you wish to portray.
Step 3: Shoot in Similar Angles and Lighting
Editing plays an undoubtedly large part in creating your Instagram theme, but lets not forget basic photography techniques.
By shooting your photos in the same light, you’re ensuring a consistent feel among your images. This ties back to our mention of “mood” in the previous post – like colors, lighting also helps set the tone. For example, shooting in broad daylight can naturally bring a positive, upbeat feeling to your photo – while darkly-lit images can create a sense of melancholy.
You can also choose to be artistic in your lighting, as seen with @hypop’s image below.
Angles also help in shaping a consistent theme, though sticking to the same one isn’t necessarily crucial. Nevertheless, plenty of Instagram accounts choose to tell their story through similarly-shot images; whether these take the form of top-down flat-lays or point-of-view shots.
Step 4: Keep Editing Consistent to Your Instagram Theme
As with colors, lighting, and angles, it’s best to stick to the same methods of post-editing your photos, too.
Once again, this ensures a similar, cohesive appearance for your feed – avoiding images that starkly contrast in effects, saturation, brightness, or filters.
Users are thus recommended to stick to the same editing tool and the settings they apply on each image. Some apps allow you to save these regular settings as a preset; a pre-made filter you can easily add onto your photo with one tap.
The popular photo-editing software, Lightroom, has such a feature. Users can tweak every detail of their photo to their liking – from the white balance to lens corrections – and save it as a customized preset.
Those who want to keep it simple may simply choose to use Instagram’s built-in filters. The same rules apply – ensure you use the same one, with the same strength setting, for each photo to maintain consistency.
Step 5: Use Your Instagram Theme to Tell a Story
Being the visual platform it is, Instagram offers itself as the perfect online tool for telling stories. While it’s good to keep your photos dedicated to a single niche, perhaps take it one step further – and have them flow together to tell a story.
Now, there doesn’t need to be an overarching plotline (the reverse-chronological display of your content will make this hard to achieve); but try and stick to a clear, core message with each one of your posts.
@charitywater, for example, does just this: sharing posts that show their volunteers’ journey in providing clean water for those in need. These photos get you engaged in their mission, and have followers keen to see the next milestone in their campaign.
Step 6: Change Things Up Every Now and Again
While consistency is King, you wouldn’t want each and every photo to show the exact same thing. Try and spice up your feed by a having a variety of content types. This can help maintain audience interest and saves you from being a one-trick pony.
For example, Amazon Prime rotates their post types by uploading a combination of series screen-captures, promotional materials, memes, and trailers of their original shows. Followers are kept busy with different types of entertaining content, all falling under the niche of the Amazon Prime platform.
It also helps to play with space, and keep your feed balanced between simple and busy subject matters.
National Geographic does this well. Their gallery displays plenty of detailed, picturesque images, with more simple, spacious photographs in between.
You might also want to experiment with text images. @cerebralmist has a checkerboard style to their feed, alternating between photographs and images of a quote placed on a black background. This is a creative way of engaging viewers; not only will they be browsing through your photos, but they’ll be reading through the words you share, as well.
Extra Tips for that Perfect Instagram Theme
We’ve laid out the vital steps towards a picture-perfect Instagram theme; now here are a few tips to level up your game.
Find Inspiration for Your Instagram Theme From Your Favorite Accounts
Stuck on deciding what theme would work best for you? Rather than brainstorming everything from scratch, take a while to explore some of your favorite profiles on the platform. What draws you to their content? What makes their feed stand out from the rest?
Take note of why you like Instagram feeds of your favorite influencers, and draw inspiration from their aesthetic. Take the concepts that work for their profile and make them your own; reshaping them in ways that fit you and your brand image.
@travelandleisure, @bbc_travel, and @bestvacations are all Instagram accounts that seem to borrow from the same aesthetic concept. All profiles share stunning photographs of the world’s greatest landmarks and cultures, with bright, vibrant color palettes that keep you scrolling for more.
Each profile, however, remains unique in their own way. @bestvacations focuses more on the personal experiences of travellers, @travelandleisure tends to showcase more travel hotspots, while @bbc_travel zeroes in on the Earth’s natural landscapes and ancient corners.
Determine what makes an Instagram theme attractive to you, and apply these elements to your own theme.
Try Out a “Puzzle Grid”
This theme style can be tricky to pull off, but looks impressive when done well.
A “puzzle grid” basically does away with the one-photo-a-post structure, creating the typical gallery of images we see on most Instagram profiles. Instead, the user forms one big picture using 3, 6 or even 9 grid squares. This large-scale image is sure to catch attention when new visitors stumble upon your profile.
To get the “puzzle grid” aesthetic right, you’ll need to post all the necessary images at once to construct your full grid photo. While you can meticulously slice a large photo into the right single post-sized dimensions, Kayla of Ivory Mix outlines an incredibly easy method:
1. Use Canva or PicMonkey to create a collage with the photos you’re using to create a larger-scale image. Save this collage.
2. Use an app to split this collage into individual Instagram posts. Kayla recommends the app “9Square”, which takes your image and quickly does the job.
Upload your resulting pictures in the appropriate order on Instagram – and you’ve got yourself a creative, “puzzle” image.
Ensure High-Quality Photos and Captions
As earlier mentioned, what you post will also dominate how you post your content. Get yourself a great theme, but match it up with blurry, poor-quality photographs and no one’s bound to hit that “follow” button.
Make sure you’re proud of each photo you post; that they hold value for both your brand and the viewer. Partner this up with an engaging caption – when done well, this adds context that can further draw in your audience.
Research shows that long-form captions do best for account engagement. The longer someone is viewing your photo, the more Instagram recognizes it as “quality content”. This makes your post more likely to rank on your follower’s feeds and on their corresponding hashtag pages.
Writing a meaningful, well thought-out description can thus create an overall better post – both in its content value and reach.
Plan Your Instagram Theme Ahead of Time
A helpful way of maintaining both aesthetic and posting consistency is plan your feed in advance. Some influencers choose to have a separate side account for testing their themes and the overall look of their grid; seeing how well their chosen posts all fit together.
Plenty others decide to use a third-party scheduler that offers a visual calendar, allowing you to plan out your grid design while simultaneously scheduling your content for posting.
Doing this can help avoid uploads that may accidentally break up the overall vibe of your feed, while having a content strategy that continuously delivers and keeps followers updated.
Design Your Instagram Theme With Later
One of the most reliable platforms for planning our Instagram feed is Later.
While there are plenty of third-party schedulers available online, Later arguably has some of the easiest, user-friendly features; many of which come for free!
The app offers users with a visual planner that allows them to plan their Instagram feed days, weeks, and even months in advance. The planner gives you a simulated view of how your posts tie together as a Instagram grid, helping you refine your theme if necessary.
Additionally, for those with a business account, Later allows for a direct publishing – auto-updating your feed with frequent posts.
Got Your Instagram Theme in Mind?
It takes a bit of thought and research to come up with an effective theme for your Instagram, but it’s also fun step in creating your ideal profile. Instagram themes tap into your creative skills and lets your brand individuality shine. Using these tips and tricks we’ve discussed, you’re all set to create a theme that engages as well as converts.