Finding your Instagram branding

Finding your Instagram branding

The official definition of a brand according to Wikipedia is "a name, term, design, symbol or other feature that distinguishes one seller’s product from those of others.” In this article, I want to focus on the “other feature” part of that definition, specifically — Instagram.

I don’t know about you, but, I really have a love-hate relationship with Instagram.

On one hand, I could get lost for hours in photo after photo. For me, all of the colors, ribbons, blooms and life represented on Instagram are food for my creative soul!

On the other hand, I really struggle with posting to Instagram. There is an unspoken message that our feed needs to fit the mold of whatever is trendy and popular.

To be clear, I have nothing against beautifully styled photos. I love them! From my own experience, though, I know that trying to fit into “Instagram pop culture” can be stressful and leave you feeling defeated. Personally, instead of being excited and proud of my work, I ended up being critical of how it looked in my feed.

We have the joy of being able to work with flowers every day, yet I know I am not alone when I say that I feel like I didn’t measure up just based on how my Instagram feed looks. That is just not right! What happened to the saying "be your own kind of beautiful?"

We shouldn’t be trying to hide who we are.

We should be embracing it

My hope is that by sharing some of my journey, you will be encouraged to find your own kind of beautiful when it comes to your branding on Instagram. Hopefully we can share a laugh, too, at some of the crazy things I have tried along the way!

I knew from the start of my business that branding was important. The problem was that I didn’t really know where to start. The only thing I knew to do was to pay attention to what was pretty and popular on Instagram and try to mimic that look. How hard can it be? Everyone is doing it!

I started in my kitchen

My first feeble attempts at this required moving all sorts of junk out of the way in my kitchen… the trash and recycling can, for starters. Then moving in a wooden crate. Then only doing this at a certain time of day so that the light came through the skylight at just the right angle. Usually by the time I moved everything around, that perfect light had come and gone.

It was ridiculous and I ended up never taking photos because it stressed me out to do all that.

I couldn't find the beauty. Strike one.

Next up: the geometric tray

It was white and a super trendy hexagon shape. So on point! This would be Instagram gold, I thought!

I was so convinced that finally my portfolio and Instagram feed would look top notch. It was white and clean! And trendy! Can I just repeat how trendy I thought this tray was?

Just like with my kitchen wall, though, using my seemly-convenient “fashion hexagon” required a lot of moving things around and waiting for the light to be just right. Not to mention the Arizona dirt in the background! Nothing says classy like dirt.

It was ridiculous and I ended up never taking photos because it stressed me out to do all that.

I couldn't find the beauty. Strike two.

At this point I decided to look around and try using what was (literally) already standing.

I decided to give the brick a chance

Yes, I didn’t have to move anything around or shoo the dogs away… but… I just thought it was ugly. It reminded me of the first apartments where we lived. You know — the kind where all the carpets, walls, and fixtures are some version of tan. Also, I live in a desert, so I really didn’t feel like I need any more sandy beige anything around me.

It was ridiculous and I found myself not wanting to post the photos because I didn’t like how they looked and it stressed me out.

See a theme here?

I still couldn't find the beauty. Strike three.

On and on it went

I started using my bedroom that only got light in the afternoon. I used a bookshelf that I had to clear everything off of first. Then, I used a wooden fence that could only fit certain size vases. Then a white poster board that was only big enough for small flowers and arrangements.

I desperately tried to mimic what I saw other people posting, but was failing miserably.

Now I was just stressed because my photos were so inconsistent. I would create something beautiful but then have no system for documenting it. It was bad enough that my iPhone and editing skills were lacking, but, the inconsistent surroundings were just making it worse.

Instead of being free to focus on learning and creating arrangements, I was preoccupied with trying to smoosh my feed into a predetermined mold.

During a time when I should have been ecstatic about all of the new skills I was learning, I was beating myself up for not being "cool" enough.

I wasn't finding the beauty. Strike, strike, strike.

Then one day, maybe by the grace of God, or maybe just from lack of other options, or maybe from both, I finally realized that the consistency I was striving for had been there all along.

My garage door

A steady and unwavering wall of blue-green-gray. It had been there the whole time. I never had to move framed art or furniture away. It was on a side of the house that almost always had consistent light. It was big enough to be a backdrop for a photo of me but still worked for small things, too. The color changes a little, from blue gray to green gray, but I credit that more to my rookie iPhone photo skills and editing.

Even better — there is not another garage door like it out there. Really, it is 30 years old and dry rotting. Is it glamorous or fancy or even memorable? No. Regardless, it is all mine!

Even though I had used the garage door as a backdrop before, I was doubtful that I had finally found my Instagram feed “brand.” There is nothing hip about a dry-rotting garage door! However, I figured it couldn’t be any worse that what I was already doing, so I wondered...

What would happen if every other day I posted a "garage door photo?"

What I discovered was that this simple door was the perfect background for things big or small.

I actually stopped stressing about planning my feed and taking photos, because it was so simple to just pop outside and take a photo. Quick and painless. Stress free.

What surprising freedom.

I had accidentally found my key to Instagram consistency and sanity, and it became my mission to purposefully use it.
My Instagram feed still isn’t perfect. It doesn’t have thousands of followers (yet). It doesn’t look like Style Me Pretty.

What I do have though is confidence.

I have peace. I am not battling my house or the sunlight or even my dogs trying to get a “Instagram worthy” shot of my flowers. I am finally in a place where I have a system to share my love of flowers in a consistent and stress free way.

(Center photo by Rebekah Seiler. Far right photo by Jessica Antonio Photography)

(Center photo by Rebekah Seiler. Far right photo by Jessica Antonio Photography)

So go find YOUR garage door. Go #FindTheBeauty.

If you already have a system for taking photos for Instagram that works well for you, then I say “high five!”

If you are like I was, struggling to find “your look” and feeling overwhelmed — I encourage you stop to take a look at what is around you already.

Maybe it is an object, like a chair, desk or shelf. Maybe it is a place, like your front porch or a field behind your house. Maybe it is a character or person, like a dog that is around all the time.

Whatever it is, make it your mission to purposefully use it in your photos. It will simplify your planning and bring consistency to your posts.

Go find a system that works for you so that your mind and heart are free to do what you truly love — create with flowers.

Oh and one more thing — once you do, I'd love to hear about it! Tag me at @afloralnote or use the hashtag #FindTheBeauty.

I can't wait to see what you have found!

Discuss with flower friends

Video: How to Grow, Hydrate and Hold Cut Hellebores

Video: How to Grow, Hydrate and Hold Cut Hellebores

Interview: Natalie at Native Poppy

Interview: Natalie at Native Poppy