Visual Content Trailblazers

    July 18 2019

    The importance of having compelling and consistent visuals on Instagram can't be understated. At PLANOLY, we've recently introduced our newest product StoriesEdit in response to this ever-evolving need, and we've loved seeing the uniquely creative ways our now 2 million-plus community of brands and content creators use this tool in their own visual content marketing endeavors. And as we continue to assess the overall landscape, we've recently come across more and more businesses who are truly disrupting what were once otherwise uninteresting product categories to build creatively-driven brands that are reviving industries that resonate with modern consumers everywhere — especially when it comes to their marketing. Today's article highlights a few of these visual content trailblazers and provides a baseline refresher of what steps to take to use visual content to disrupt in your respective industry or business.

    "The importance of having compelling & consistent visuals on Instagram can't be understated."
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    Examples of Visual Content Trailblazers

    There's no questioning the oversaturation of prime markets like fashion and food — however, there are a few specialty brands that are doing it right when it comes to garnering excitement through visual storytelling. The first example of this is Brightland (@wearebrightland), a leading olive oil company based in Los Angeles, California. The brand is not even one-year-old, but it has already transformed the way we think about olive oil as an essential item in one's kitchen and overall lifestyle. And while it may be hard to wrap your mind around finding inspiration in olive oil content, Brightland has done an exceptional job at utilizing Instagram as a way to start a larger conversation around the lifestyle benefits of the product outside of its intended use by building a narrative that intersects between food, health, design, and beauty. Looking specifically at its visual storytelling, Brightland's distinctive branding and color palette serve as a baseline that ties its social content together across the entire app experience. On the grid, the brand posts aspirational product and lifestyle imagery featuring the Brightland bottles in picturesque kitchens to graphically designed informational posts on the benefits of olive oil and snippets from its brand manifesto. Even when posting found/reposted imagery, Brightland doesn't stray too far away from elevated imagery of interiors, artist posts, and customer or press imagery that show further context around the Brightland customer. This approach also extends to the brand's Stories content which includes more segmented focuses through Highlights on the product details, Brightland's founder story, and raw, reposted moments from the community using Brightland in their own way. With less than 250 posts on Instagram, Brightland demonstrates that less CAN be more as they are a leading example of the opportunities that come with sharing consistent and carefully-curated visual content, which in their case, has taken an ordinary product and turned it into something aspirational. Our next example features a young brand in a similar space — enter Great Jones (@greatjones), a modern cookware brand based in New York City. With products ranging from a cast-iron dutch oven to pots and pans, the company is modernizing timeless cooking essentials that appeal to the Instagram generation. And when it comes to branding, at first glance, it's easy to tell that the company is also disrupting the visual standards (read: minimalism) that many start-ups have become synonymous with. Instead, Great Jones's branding leans heavily towards a fun, approachable, and vintage-inspired aesthetic, which has quickly made its way into the brand's Instagram content. Generally speaking, Great Jones has done an incredible job at using the communal aspects of cooking as a baseline for its social content, which ranges from campaign imagery to historical/culturally-relevant moments of celebrities in the kitchen to casual #reposts from the community interacting with the product. In addition to the eclectic lifestyle imagery, like Brightland, Great Jones also uses distinctive graphic design to include authentic testimonials from customers and quotes from tastemakers that point to the overarching narrative of community and cooking. Finally, the brand's recent posts also demonstrate more portraits from their editorial series Great Ones; as well as showing customers using Great Jones pots and pans as vessels for selfies which is a creative way to show the brand's commitment to community and customization (fun fact: the brand now provides engraving and colorful options for its product The Dutchess). With all of this said, Great Jones is a perfect example of a brand who is using visual content to provide lifestyle context, garner excitement, and encourage exploration around an action, like cooking, that may have seemed inaccessible to customers in the past. Our last example is quip (@quip), a dental care company based in Brooklyn, New York, that is known for its sleek electric toothbrush. Much like our recently mentioned examples, quip has done a great job at taking cues from the design of its core product and using these aesthetic pillars as the foundation of its visual narrative on Instagram. In this case, quip's refined, minimal, and futuristic design ties together its widespread use of multimedia content ranging from polished lifestyle imagery to minimally-illustrated GIFs and animations of the toothbrush. This approach is especially practical as it would be difficult to consistently capture individuals using the toothbrush in "real life" settings (which by nature would be challenging to effectively photograph in a way that's visually-pleasing). Instead, quip's use of its brand colors, simple illustrations, and clean compositions create an even appearance across their Instagram feed that appeals to the minimal aesthete. With that in mind, this simple (but memorable) aesthetic is also carried through in quip's Stories content to support more copy-driven and health-based content from dental providers and the quip team. Looking specifically at the brand's dedicated Highlights, the team also builds on this more fact-based content through fun visual embellishments, including branded illustrations, GIFs, and emoji. While there may not be as many opportunities to build a customer narrative through compelling lifestyle/portrait imagery, quip is an excellent example of focusing more on a high-level aesthetic that can be retrofitted to specific collaborations or product launches (like the brand's recent introduction of children's toothbrushes) all the way through to evergreen product stories and facts about oral health.

    "Think about the opportunities to diversify what's being done in your brand's product category."
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    The above brands are just a few examples of those who are using visual storytelling to garner excitement around products that we may otherwise take for granted. With their strategies in mind, and as we close out this article, below are a few questions to think about when figuring out how to disrupt your industry/product category by creating immersive visual content for Instagram:

    1. What role does visual storytelling play in my customer's life? First and foremost, it's worth assessing how your audience, and the greater industry audience, generally responds to visual content. From there, think about the opportunities to diversify what is being done in your brand's product category, and how you can use visual storytelling to either inspire, inform or educate your audience (which will ultimately depend heavily on the nature of your product).
    2. How can I capture my product outside of its typical environment? With the examples of Brightland customers using empty olive oil bottles as flower vases to Great Jones customers taking selfies in reflective pots and pans, it's worth thinking about how your product can exist in an unexpected setting — and how that can be translated visually. When looking at the overall visual trends in your industry, think about what visuals have that #viral factor, and will spark an engaging conversation with your audience, and in turn, incentivize them to build upon your brand's visual narrative on their channels too.
    3. What do I need to bring this visual content to life? For the most part, each of the featured examples in this article blended a mix of original assets with reposts from the community. However, the investment in premium visual content can vary depending on the needs, so this is especially important to think about from a planning perspective... And in the meantime, planning is our specialty! We encourage you to check out StoriesEdit for all of your Stories template and social content design needs.

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