Throughout the modern era, storytelling about company culture has become a central aspect of the most successful branding campaigns. Whether it’s Nike’s “Just Do It” motto, which brought customer goals into the company’s core identity, or Apple’s “Think Different” slogan, where company philosophy was brought to the forefront of the company’s image, storytelling about company culture is truly the sine qua non of first-class brand creation.
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash
So with its elegant, image-based design and capacity for creating deeply felt narratives, it is little wonder that more and more companies are using Instagram accounts to build their brands. While this social media platform is a relatively new part of the marketing campaigns of many companies, its effect on the business world has been profound, and few major firms in 2019 do not devote significant energy towards creating the perfect Instagram page for its customers’ enjoyment.
Here are just five examples of how companies can tell their brand’s stories in unique ways on Instagram, and why when it comes to branding, it’s all about how customer stories and a business’s values intersect to create something magical.
1. National Geographic: Weaving a Tale
With one of Instagram’s most popular accounts, National Geographic’s (@natgeo) Instagram page is a master class in how companies can weave a tale out of their brand identity. In particular, National Geographic excels at encouraging its followers to explore related accounts of companies and photographers by embedding links into Instagram posts themselves, a process that allows followers to learn more about a NatGeo story through informative descriptions and in-post links. Each National Geographic post is a small world unto itself, with detailed information about how each photographer got the perfect shot.
So what can companies learn from one of Instagram’s blockbuster user accounts? Simply put, make the experience of visiting your Instagram page special, and success will follow: Rather than simply post a photograph, explain what the photograph means to your company and why it is important for users to learn about the subject of your post. Be generous with links to the photographer or customer accounts and include mentions of related Instagram users so that followers can learn more about topics that they’re interested in. A picture on Instagram may tell a thousand words, but for a truly special experience, weave a tale out of your posts that builds on your brand identity and your customers’ lives.
2. Humans of New York: Bringing the Human Element to Your Followers
When Brandon Stanton created the Humans of New York (@humansofny) Instagram account, he wanted his content to live up to his account’s name: Like National Geographic, Humans of New York aims to create a sense of narrative within each post and photograph. Every Humans of New York post is like a short story: Deftly incorporating quotes from the subjects of the photographs themselves, Stanton shows the human element of his work in a profound and often deeply affecting way.
So what can companies learn from Humans of New York? In a phrase: The human element. Even if your company is not a charity or non-profit, bring your followers into the world of your business and client base. How does your work affect others? How does your company interact with society? By answering these questions, you’ll show the real impact of your brand, and for your followers, that will mean the world.
3. Nest: Demonstrating the Benefits of Your Product or Service
One of the biggest mistakes that companies often make when curating a social media account lies in using vague information about otherwise important posts. For a masterclass on showcasing a product and showing how it will benefit customers, check out the popular Nest (@nest) account on Instagram. Not only does Nest invest its time and energy into curating beautifully photographed home improvement products, but the company also provides a concise description of why each product will benefit users.
So what can companies learn from Nest? Simple: Don’t just expect a photograph to tell the whole story about your product or service; explain to users how your product or service will play a role in their lives. Why will their life be improved by your company? How does your work benefit users, and what problems will your company help them to solve? How does your company’s brand fit in with your customers’ identity? Answering questions such as these can really take your brand to the next level!
4. MailChimp: Working Hard, Playing Hard
Running a company is time-consuming, and there isn’t always time to catch up on the latest marketing trends. But to see an example of an Instagram page that truly shows the site’s capacity for beautiful design and harmonious, bright colours, try checking out MailChimp’s (@mailchimp) account. Chock-full of whimsical videos, animations, photographs, and drawings, MailChimp truly demonstrates the power of company culture to win over customers.
Indeed, MailChimp’s account succeeds so well because the company welcomes the viewer behind the scenes: you get a glimpse at their laid-back but intelligent company culture, an inclusive focus on customer relationships that every business can learn from. Even when adopting a more serious tone in your branding, in other words, you can still show customers the real you. And by demonstrating the values and creativity of your company’s culture, you can truly connect with customers and clients in an unprecedented way.
5. Airbnb: Making Customers a Part of the Story
Unlike most Instagram accounts, Airbnb (@airbnb) is almost totally made up of user-generated content and unique hashtags, and in the process of including additional information in each photograph and post, the company has revolutionised how Instagram can connect to customers’ lives. Indeed, the effect of Airbnb’s user-curated material is truly magical, as a quick glimpse of the account will show: By harnessing the talents of its user base and including concise descriptions of the amenities customers will experience when they rent a property through the company, Airbnb not only displays compelling photographs of its rental opportunities, it also brings its customer and client base directly into the fold.
For a true learning experience on how to make customers a part of your company’s brand, Airbnb’s stunning Instagram photographs, captions, and hashtags are not to be missed. This is brand development at its best!
For these reasons, discovering a knack for storytelling is one of the greatest steps a company can make towards building their brand identity. As we’ve seen with top-tier businesses such as National Geographic and Airbnb, a marketing platform that brings customers into a company’s story can profoundly affect customer relationships for the better and create customer connections that last a lifetime. And that is truly business at its best!