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Building a Brand on Instagram – Your Intro to the Basics!

Building a brand on instagram header image - gold binder clips on pink dish

So you’re building a brand on Instagram. 👷‍♀️You’ve come to the right place!

Whether you’re looking to start a fresh new brand on Instagram or tighten up your existing branding, you’ve probably figured out by now that there’s a lot more that goes into a successful brand beyond pretty visuals.

In fact, some of the most important elements of a brand strategy on Instagram are never actually seen on your page!

Naturally, it can be hard to understand those behind-the-scenes details… especially if you aren’t a branding expert. 👩‍💻

So who better to give some prize insights on the process of building an brand Instagram account than a professional brand + communication strategist? 😍

Meet Karina Martinez, Founder + CEO of Avana Creative

Karina Martinez, CEO of avana creative gives a q&a to tailwind on building a brand on instagram

Karina is the CEO and founder of agency avana creative, and the CEO + Co-Founder of Salud Brands Co.

She’s an amazing brand strategist and PR maven based out of Long Beach. Working primarily in the food and beverage brand space, she’s helmed the development and launch of some of the hottest emerging brands and restaurants in Southern California!

We have a feeling you’ll be mesmerized by Karina’s passion and wit as she breaks down how to go about building a brand on Instagram that sticks.

Let’s dive in! 🏊‍♀️

Why Building an Instagram Brand Matters

Let’s be honest, you’ve probably got a million things on your plate already. Do you really have to add building an Instagram brand to the list?


As we mentioned before, branding isn’t just about nice visuals on your feed. It’s so much more than that – in fact, it’s everything!

“Branding is the foundation and soul of every business and is oftentimes what makes or breaks the best products or services.”

Truth is, the market is oversaturated with products and goods and the ONE main thing that makes you different from your competitor is not your sourcing, your taste or your price point. It’s you.

Karina Martinez

Why, though? In consumer culture theory, the belief is that people buy one brand over another because it speaks strongly to how they view themselves as a person (identity) or who they ultimately want to be (aspiration).

Basically, your followers’ reaction to your brand comes down to a pretty emotional response based on their own self-perception.

That’s why adding in the personal elements of branding over just providing facts about who you are or what you do is so effective!

“This is where in business, its okay to be personal. That’s what people want!

Talk about the why, the how, the who, and the what. This is is what makes you differentiable… and the difference between your product being bought or put back on the shelf.”

Almost everything is replicable except for your story and your brand, so why not use that to your advantage?

What You Need Before You Begin Instagram Branding

Before you dive full-speed ahead into building your Instagram brand package, there’s an important detail to clear up:

Branding does not equal graphic design or logos. While those are brand extensions, they are not your brand.

Instagram is a visual platform, so naturally, many accounts spend a lot of time creating perfect visuals, selecting filters, color palettes and designing snazzy highlight cover icons right away.

However, if you skip all the research and homework beforehand, you expose yourself to leaving gaps and inconsistencies in your story-telling, posts and comment section interactions which can leave a bad taste in your followers’ mouths.

So work through this checklist in order to make sure you’re hitting all the right notes with your Instagram brand!

Your Brand Origin Story

What is your story in relation to this business or brand? Is it a recipe that’s been handed down, a problem you’re determined to solve, a gap you’ve noticed after being in certain industry – or is it all a mere accident?

Craft that story, and know it like the back of your hand!

Catan Pisco frequently revisits their origin story and businesses practices in social media posts - letting their followers in behind the scenes to learn more as they build a brand on instagram

By knowing that story and honing in, you can make better decisions on everything you do! Think about the last time you were in a store or on a companies’ website: what were the things that spoke to you the most?

Chances are products and brands with bold labels, easy-to-read descriptions that tell you what they are and the problem they are solving.

Your Target Audience

Who exactly are you targeting? Don’t say everyone unless you’re selling water or air! And even with water, a lot of people have strong preferences between type of water and brands like Aquafina, Dasani, etc. 😂

Is it young women, older men, gender-neutral millennials, working moms?

Make a habit to always be learning from your followers and audience insights. Start leaning content towards the type of people who consistently are attracted to your profile and following you!

Don’t just check your insights once – you should always be keeping tabs on these stats to look for opportunities and trends that could affect branding decisions.

A Strategy For Telling Your Story Through Your Instagram Brand

“This might be where you start to play with design and concepts. For example, if you sell a product or have a blog that helps with the struggles of being a new mom, then your target audience is first-time moms most likely in the 25-35 range.

Your color palette will probably lean on the lighter side, your logo would appear feminine, and your page will probably be very community-orientated because moms lean on each other so much!

Your Existing Competitors

It’s important to do your research and understand who your competitors are, what they offer, what people like about them and what they may not like.

However, don’t overthink this part too much!

I think people get too caught up in trying to be different from the competition instead of being themselves, and sticking to who they are!

No matter what kind of business you are in, there is always going to be someone who is really similar to you. It’s the plain truth. But your customers love you for you so use that to your advantage.

For example, Bud Light and Coors are really similar! They have similar demographics and price points! But they never try to be someone outside of their brand.

Know your competitors and what exists in your market, but don’t let these details change fundamental things about your identity or how you choose to communicate it authentically! ✨

Branding Strategy in Action! 🎬

Want to see how all this legwork comes together for avana creative? Here’s a peek at their branding case study with a Drinking Buddy!

Drinking Buddy is a prelaunch brand introducing Japanese snacks that pair with both adult and soft beverages to the United States.

Founder Frank came to avana with hopes to rebrand his company to match his culturally modern inspiration and appeal to the demographic of craft beverage enthusiasts. By rebuilding the brand’s foundation, fine tuning the narrative and designing a strong message, avana created a unique, intimate brand that is fun, inclusive and a bold flavor experience.

avana creative case study building an instagram brand with drinking buddy offical brand

How to Build a Brand on Instagram: 8 Essential Tips

We begged Karina to share her wisdom with us on building a brand on Instagram that succeeds. She had so many pearls of wisdom to share – keep reading to learn them all!

Tip 1: Remember Your Story, and Never Stop Telling It

The fact is, people get inspiration from or buy from people. Especially in an age where everyone wants to know who built it, where it comes from, who owns it and who has it!

If your message doesn’t come across, and your story doesn’t get noticed then you are going to lose your audience to someone who’s done it right.

The unfortunate truth is that it’s not always the best quality products or the tastiest that do well – it’s the ones that are able to bring you into their lifestyle and gain buy-in to their story that do well. 

Whether you’re the biggest brand in the world or a start-up with a single customer, at some point you told a story that made that first person buy it.

Maybe you started at a farmer’s market or going door to door! What were you telling your customers that made them purchase it?

I think the biggest mistake is that people cut corners and forget that branding and business is personal. No matter the size of your brand now, you can never forget where you came from! 

Now look at your website and/ or social media platform – does that origin story resonate? Is there a clever way to work elements of it into your Instagram bio or imagery?

Tip 2: Communicate Your Brand Purpose Across All Your Channels

Think of your social media (and all of your online channels!) as digital real estate. This is a place where you’re online friends come to visit, hang out, and stay as long as they’d like!

No matter which property your friends are at (blog, website, Instagram, etc.) they should feel like they’re in your home.

However, each channel may attract a different demographic among your friends (i.e. friend groups). It’s important to tailor your messaging to those demographics while still remaining true to your brand purpose.

What you say on your Instagram matters, and it has to match all of your other marketing collateral in a way that is still on brand but caters to your demographic. 

For example, if you’re a sustainable company and that’s reflected in your mission statement, then make sure to include sustainability themes and practices in your Instagram posts and practices, too!

Your brand is a living breathing thing with its own morals and history, and just like people, it has values. So stick to them!

Stay laser-focused on what you’ve developed and people will pay attention Never waiver, and honesty and wholesomeness will triumph

Tip 3: Always Plan Ahead, Don’t Just Post!

It’s important to stay relevant and be top of mind to build brand awareness, which is why you should post regularly on social media.

Of course, there is always content you can put up on a whim (like Instagram Stories!) but for the most part, your Instagram posts should be planned in advance and integrate with key launches, holidays, announcements and current trends.

Planning also gives you plenty of time to create content!

Start by taking a calendar and mapping out 90 days. Plug in major national holidays, and then start plugging in more niche and relevant holidays, like Earth Day if you’re a sustainable brand or National Chocolate Day if you’re a dessert fanatic!

An Instagram publishing tool like Tailwind can help you plan and schedule posts months in advance.

Plus, you can easily search the best hashtags to get more eyes on your posts. Hello, brand awareness! Get a free trial of Tailwind for Instagram – no credit card required! 💳

Tip 4: Create Your Content with An Eye For Quality

Working off of 90-day editorial calendars gives you plenty of time to plan your attack and even batch product photos!

You might want to think about working with a photographer and planning several shoots to get the content you need.

Or brush up on your professional phone photography skills!

“Not every photo is going to be hi-res with in-depth detail, but your Instagram pictures should always look nice and clean.

Don’t post blurry, low-quality photos to your Instagram feed and always CLEAN YOUR SURFACES!”

Tip 5: “Pull Out the Weeds” When Building a Brand on Instagram

Think of your Instagram profile like a garden. Just like gardening, it’s okay to pull out the weeds! As you experiment with content creation, see what works and pull what doesn’t.

Don’t be afraid to make a mistake or try something new, but don’t keep repeating something that doesn’t work.”

Tip 6: Interact with Your Followers

Invite your followers to share things, tag you in posts, and share their content with you.

For example, avana creative client Drinking Buddy frequently reposts user-generated content from snacks and sweet makers.

Not only do they credit the Instagram user, they take the opportunity to educate their followers on what it is and how it’s made!

Create a branded hashtag so people can join in on the fun or do giveaways!

“Interaction helps build and online community of loyal followers and even perspective customers!

It’s important to interact with them on a regular basis, especially since instagram is so reciprocal!”

On that note, you always want to be relatable and transparent.

People are following you because they care about your brand and want to know what’s going so there’s no need to hide struggles, setbacks or hiding things.

Trust is everything in branding and once you lose that trust you’ve lost that customer, reader or follower.

Tip 7: Listen to Your Consumers and Ask For Feedback!

Your biggest inspiration should be your customers, prospective customers, and Instagram users that are following you.

Reach out to them, give them free products and/or discounts in exchange for their feedback. Try a quick survey! Ask them to be honest and transparent in what they like or don’t like.

Let them lead the way because without them, who do you sell to? Your customer is your boss! They tell you what to do and the direction that you should go. Don’t ignore it! 

Being adaptable is so important. Nothing feels worse than being a small business owner (after you’ve put your time money and soul into a project!) to hear your customers wish something was different – or worse, that they don’t like it!

But your audience isn’t trying to hurt your feelings, they are trying to help! The best brands survive when they listen and adapt.

Tip 8: Don’t Put All Your Eggs in the
Instagram Basket

Instagram marketing is not the ONLY avenue of marketing, it is one avenue of marketing strategy.

Focusing all your attention solely on Instagram forever may limit your brand.

The best social media brands have also invested in great branding, a strong website and use Instagram as an extension of their brand. The sky is the limit- always keep an eye on growth opportunities. 📈

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Pinterest image - Instagram ( or work on rebranding your Instagram account?) Check out these must-know tips from Karina Martinez at Avana Creative! #brandbuilding #brandingtips


  1. Avatar

    Thanks Kristen. We’re a travel brand with a very small following working up to a product. These are really helpful tips. I’m going to get the calendar and start planning better.

    • Kristen Dahlin
      Kristen DahlinModerator

      Yay! I’m glad you found some useful tips in here! If you haven’t already, I encourage you to visit the two other blog posts on branding that came out the same week (all three are in our newsletter if you’ve read them!) There’s a lot of useful information about building and strengthening your brand, particularly in the expert tip roundup here! Let us know how we can help or if there’s anything you need unlocking on as you build your plan!

      All my best,

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