Instagram Inspiration: Vital Lessons From The Top Brands On Instagram

These days, with so many great resources available online, you can easily polish your social media skills by observing the best.

By checking out what those that constantly top lists are up to and implementing the lessons they share, you can begin to put out social media gold in no time.

To help you on your journey towards killing it on Instagram, we’ve taken a look at 6 of the best Instagram accounts out there. Along with a breakdown of what makes them so darn good, we’ve shared Canva templates to help you get started today.

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01. Everlane: Posts Images that Play a Role in Your Brand Story

If you’re not already familiar with Everlane, head over to their website to get acquainted with the brand. They’re known for making some of the best basics out there at super reasonable prices. Based in San Fran, they are totally into being radically transparent and honest about where their products come from, how they are made, and how much they cost. It is a super refreshing model that lets you exactly know what’s behind every good you get. Pretty neat, right?

Another great way to get to know Everlane is through their awesome Instagram account. It’s packed with loads of beautifully stark and elegant photographs that perfectly align with the brand. Each photo in the curated stream boasts a neutral palette, reminiscent of those found in Everlane’s collections, and simple compositions that remind viewers that transparency and simplicity are at the heart of the brand. It is beautiful.

While all the eye candy found in Everlane’s Instagram account definitely served as a hook to keep me scrolling through all their shots, it’s the intent and meaning behind each that I really dig.

Each shot has been designed to become a part of Everlane’s visual story and to help transmit their core values and messaging to their customer base. Their feed isn’t just about pushing a new cool pair of high ankle boots or their latest t-shirt, it’s about reinforcing the brand’s beliefs and what is truly unique about them.

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Everlane
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Everlane
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Everlane

So what is there to learn from Everlane’s lovely Instagram account? When developing a style, it’s important that you take into consideration how it will shape your brand, how you can use it to reinforce your brand, and how you can use it to communicate your values and beliefs. Use it as an opportunity to share why you are unique, what’s so darn good about you, and why your followers should care.

What this style will be will naturally depend on your brand. In Everlane’s case, simplicity and transparency sit at its core. It then makes sense to opt for sparse compositions, white clean lighting, and neutral tones to transmit them.

If you’re working with bright, clean and simple photography already, check out the following templates in Canva. Should the imagery not be exactly right for what you’re looking to build, feel free to click through our robust library of free images to find a replacement.

Want to go the Everlane way and just feature imagery? Simply remove the text and you’re good to go.

02. Flowers For Dreams: Structure Your Feed Using Content Pillars

As their website puts it, Flowers for Dreams started as “an unassuming college projects.” To make a few bucks, the guys behind it decided they’d sell roses outside a high school graduation ceremony. They’d use half of the profit to fund a better college diet and the other half to hook up low-income students they tutored with backpacks.

News of the project spread quickly and neighboring schools invited the college students to set up their flower camp outside their high school ceremonies too. Without even aiming to, a new business with an important philanthropic component was born. Since their launch in the summer of 2012, they’ve donated over $140,153 to local charities.

A lovely story, right? And it shines through Flowers For Dreams’ Instagram account. Not only is it a collection of beautifully curated photography featuring their products, it’s a visual story that shares the company’s passion for doing good. Take look–all the awesome stuff they do will brighten even your gloomiest day.

Those behind the heartwarming Instagram account keep it feeling branded and cohesive by featuring photographs that are consistently lit, have similar color palettes, and use similar compositions.

Their posts also seem to be constructed around content pillars that create rhythm within their visual story: product shots, shots of individuals they’ve made an impact on, and shots sharing stats on all the good they’ve done. They’ll regularly create posts around these pillars and in doing so, create mini content streams within their Instagram account. Not a bad way to give a little structure to social!

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Flowers For Dreams
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Flowers For Dreams
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Flowers For Dreams

Benefit from developing content pillars for your Instagram posts, just like Flowers For Dreams does. Instead of simply posting beautiful photography, develop pillars to help structure your content.

These pillars don’t have to be numerous or complex. Opt for the classic piece of humorous content, one that provides insight into your brand, and if you’ve a killer line of products, one that showcases them and their unique features.

Top view photography, showcased in the first example we featured by Flowers For Dreams, is all the rage these days. Below, you’ll find Canva templates featuring the style ready for you to work with.

03. L’Oréal: Showcase Your Products in a Variety of Creative Ways

Vibrant colors, textures, and powerful shots of women fill L’Oréal’s lively Instagram account. With its many beautiful and bold shots of women, it pays tribute to the brand’s world-renowned slogan: Because You’re Worth It.

One of my favorite aspects of L’Oréal’s Instagram account is how it so masterfully handles an incredibly complex color palette that results from the many different hues used in its products. By using color strategically and being mindful of what has been posted before, shots featuring colors that would otherwise clash play well with each other within the feed. Instead of it being an overwhelming color experience, it is a playful feed full of delightful images.

Just like Flowers For Dreams, L’Oréal’s feed is packed with posts that follow certain content pillars. It will feature product shots, illustrations, shots of beautiful women using their products, and fun videos.

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L’Oréal
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L’Oréal
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L’Oréal

Another aspect that I think is great about L’Oréals Instagram account is how creatively it showcases its product line. Instead of just posting an endless stream of glam product shots, L’Oréal engages its followers by posting creative content that explores all the different ways in which women use their makeup.

In addition to shots of gorgeous women donning lips covered in their many shades, you’ll find quirky videos and top view photography sharing why their products are the ultimate accessory. Occasionally, they’ll even feature type drawn out with lipstick. It keeps their content dynamic, fun and diverse. Definitely something worth exploring as you produce content for your Instagram account.

Looking to create a post with similar content and layouts to the ones showcased above? Check out these 2 templates readily available in Canva.

04. Master & Dynamic: Engage Your Audience’s Senses with Evocative Imagery

What does sound look like? Head over to Master & Dynamic’s Instagram feed to check out their take on it. The design focused audio company produces a variety of sound tools the boast the highest level of quality and finesse. They like to say they don’t just build headphones. They build “modern thinking caps: tools to help focus, inspire and transport your mind.”

Master & Dynamic’s Instagram account is a carefully curated selection of beautiful photographs that play notes and sound in our minds. Be it a composition featuring rhythmically arranged objects, a set of headphones bearing a logo associated with a specific genre, or a quick video that makes us think of a very specific sound, every image in the account has the potential of stimulating thoughts packed with sound.

As with all other incredibly polished brand Instagram accounts, the photographs in Master & Dynamic’s Instagram account all feature similar lighting, color palettes, and compositions. This, of course, helps the feed feel designed and branded.

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Master & Dynamic
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Master & Dynamic
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Master & Dynamic

Exploring ways in which you can engage other senses is a great way to provide an even more exciting and engaging experience for your following. In Master & Dynamic’s case, sound is the obvious choice. But it’s not the only sense you can play on.

With the right imagery, you can play on sound, taste, and even smell. While your following won’t literally be sniffing or tasting their phones, they’ll be able to conjure up memories associated with the visuals their seeing. Done the right way, this results in a more memorable and delightful experience.

Sharing all the awesome products your brand carries on Instagram? Below you’ll find 2 templates designed to be easily adaptable. Simply drop in your own product photography in the background and tweak our copy.

05. Brilliant Bicycle Co.: Tell a Story

To help reinforce this belief, Brilliant Bicycle Co. has designed an Instagram account filled with imagery that is lighthearted and fun. It’s packed with photography that is bright, colorful and clean. Brilliant Bicycle Co. also uses storytelling to help make their content lively and engaging.

In most of Brilliant Bicycle Co.’s posts, you’ll see bikes taking part in everyday life, making them feel like characters that actively participate in a cyclist’s life. This makes each post feel like a warm mini story, sharing bits of the lives of those who bike.

Taking advantage of the power of storytelling not only helps Brilliant Bicycle Co. demystify bikes, but engages their following by putting beautifully designed bikes at the heart of their everyday.

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Brilliant Bicycle Co.
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Brilliant Bicycle Co.
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Brilliant Bicycle Co.

As Brilliant Bicycle Co. shows, you don’t have to come up with a complex storyline to take advantage of how enchanting and delightful storytelling can be. It doesn’t even have to extend throughout a series of posts. You can create a short visual story within each post by simply being mindful about your compositions and the associations between whatever is present in your posts.

Below you’ll find a couple templates that share stories with your followers and showcase individuals engaging in outdoor activities. Give tweaking the copy a shot and easily prep your next Instagram post.

06. The Frooti Life: Build Excitement via Piecemeal Release of Images

Frooti is one of India’s oldest and best know mango juices. After 30 years, they were ready to unveil a new logo designed by Pentagram. They trusted Sagmeister & Walsh to help them develop a launch campaign to introduce changes to their customers. Naturally, social was part of the campaign and Sagmeister & Walsh knocked it out of the park.  

Sagmeister & Walsh created a “fresh, bold, and playful” campaign that banks on a miniature world where larger elements are made of mangos or the juices packaging. In doing so, they are able to hero the product and its main ingredient, mango, while still being able to tell short, funny stories with the miniatures.

This all plays out wonderfully in what has to be the most fun juice Instagram account out there. In it, you’ll find short humorous narratives played out by said miniatures. The short narratives take place in colorful landscapes, with an occasional mango or packaging mountain, and often include elements taken out of India’s rich culture.

Many of the posts are animated and packed with fun sounds. However, all of the still photography in it is just as fun, sans animation and sound.

Several of the photographs in the account are parts of a bigger image viewers can appreciate when they view the feed and not an individual post. It’s an excellent way to design of “the whole picture” and not just individual posts.

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Frooti
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Frooti
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Frooti

Using individual post to build a bigger image also provides an opportunity to create excitement around what you post each week. Releasing “pieces of a puzzle” that come together week after week can keep your following hooked and coming back to check out what you are building.

This doesn’t mean you have to stick strictly to photography. You can use text strategically placed within your posts to share a message your following can discover only when they look at your feed as a whole.

Frooti uses great bold and vibrant colors in their posts. If you’re unsure about how to make bold color combos work, check out the templates below, readily available for you to edit with just one click.

If you’re still hungry for more inspiration, head over to Instagram and check out what other brands in your niche are doing. Be sure to also take a look at Veronika Theodor’s post on Canva sharing how you can become a pro following a few of her tips.  

Already have an account that’s killer? Share it with us in the comment section! We’d love to check out what you’ve been up to and maybe learn a thing or two from you as well.

Maria is a professional designer and social media devotee. After a few years of working in boutique agencies in New York and Boston, she decided to trade in her morning runs for morning dives and moved down to the warm Caribbean. She is currently working on becoming a scuba instructor in order to find a way to merge her two loves: design and the ocean.