Instagram has become way more than just a photo sharing platform. Instagram is a science of its own.  Hence its getting increasingly difficult to design a unique brand feed that stands out from the crowd and reaches its full potential. This blog post provides 10 useful free tools for beginners and pros, to build structure and boost creativity.

Instagram tools to create a cohesive brand aesthetic 

The decision whether to hit the "follow" button when stumbling upon a new account is usually made within only a few seconds. A key factor for this decision is how much the first impression reveals about a brand's identity. A feed where no picture matches the other quickly becomes unpleasing to the eye and rather leads to overstimulation than a good first impression. For this very reason, picking two to six main colors to focus on is a good start to creating a cohesive brand aesthetic on Instagram.

The tool Colorkuler helps creating such a limited color palette by analyzing existing feeds. Either type in your account name to get an impression of which color tones are currently dominant in your feed or take a peak at the color palettes of accounts that inspire you.

It is often difficult to make out in advance how good a picture will look next to others in your Instagram Feed. Especially when arranging new patterns or trying out new types of posts, it is often helpful to plan and check a little before actually posting. This is exactly what the UNUM app enables you to do. UNUM offers an empty three-column grid into which images and videos from your camera roll can be inserted and exchanged at any time. In addition, there is an option to connect you Instagram account in oder to import all existing posts and seamlessly align "test posts" right behind them. A scheduling function also allows setting reminders for any image placed in the grid and can help you establish a persistent posting routine. 

Obviously, not every photo magically fits the shades of color that are particularly prominent in your feed, and neither does every photo match perfectly with the one previously posted. Consequently, photo editing in one way or another is inevitable in most cases. While Instagram offers a large selection of its own editing tools and filters within the app itself, most brands and influencers  still swear by Adobe Lightroom. The magic word here is presets.

Basically, presets are the same as filters on Instagram, with the subtle difference that they can be designed entirely according to your own taste. As soon as presets in Lightroom are applied to an image, it automatically adapts the settings for exposure, contrast, brightness, coloring, etc. assigned to the preset. Unlike pre-made filters, like those on Instagram,  Lightroom allows users to adjust every single aspect of the preset in detail, allowing you to create the most perfect version of your picture. 

In addition to creating your own presets, Lightroom also allows importing presets created by other users. Countless influencers offer their own presets for download, but rarely for free. A good alternative to Lightroom, for those who lack the skill or patience to create and adjust personal presets is Afterlight. In the premium version, the app offers 130 filters and over 60 textures and overlays. The free version is significantly slimmed down, but also offers many options for creative image editing.

Instagram Tools for creative and unique Posts

Clearly standing out from the crowd is the most important thing when it comes to creating a convincing brand account on Instagram. Between all kinds of other marketing tasks, however,  time for creative post-brainstorming is often limited. Fortunately, there are tons of apps out there, that can help you turn simple photos into inspiring posts. One of the most popular and versatile creative apps is PicsArt. In addition to various filters, the app offers templates for collages, layouts for feed posts with text, a selection of stock images and various camera filters, similar to the filters for Instagram stories. The full range is only accessible with a PicsArt Gold subscription though.

Less versatile but still fun are creative apps like kirakira +, Glitch Studio and Enlight Pixaloop. kirakira + costs a one-time fee of € 1.09 in the iOS Store, but leaves your feed with a shining sparkle. The app automatically conjures up a sparkle on reflective surfaces, both on content that is recorded via the app itself and content imported from your camera roll. There are a handful of different filters to choose from and the amount of glitter can be adjusted as well. Glitch Studio turns high resolution smartphone recordings into pieces of nostalgia with various retro video recorder effects. The free version only provides access to a few filters, but the pro version offers a wide range of varied effects at quite a low cost. Pixaloop from Enlight also brings movement to your feed. Similar to kirakira + and Glitch Studio, the app transforms your photos into small animated videos and lets backgrounds pass by smoothly. It works especially well for skies and waters. Aligning the movement correctly however, is a bit tricky for beginners. 

Instagram Tools for Stories that stand out

Instagram stories have grown to be a central aspect of the social media platform in recent years. Consequently, the possibilities to create and edit stories within the app are quite versatile already. From text to stickers and GIFs to a seemingly infinite selection of AR filters and the recently added layout function. Nontheless, there are a few noteworthy apps that allow you to get even more creative with Instagram Stories and, most importantly, adjust them to your individual brand aesthetics.

One of the most popular apps for Instagram Story and feed templates, but also layouts for various other channels, is Canva. With 60,000 different free templates, Canva has inspiration to offer for every taste and occasion. An upgrade to Canva Pro further provides access to a large pool of stock images and enables individual branding.

Overall, mojo works quite similarly, but in contrast to Canva, mainly offers animated templates. In the free version only layouts for Instagram stories are included, however, and each video exported from the app is watermarked. mojo pro offers all templates in feed format as well, allows individual branding and importing your own fonts.

Bonus: squarelovin free instagram analytics

In order to track whether and how the performance of your brand account changes with the use of various tools, it is worth taking a look at detailed Instagram Analytics every now and then. The free Instagram Analytics Tool from squarelovin offers insights into  engagement with individual posts over various periods of time, defines optimal times for posting, provides information about your target group and clearly shows which type of content works best for you. Click here to register for free.

List of all Instagram Tools
  • Colorkuler

  • UNUM

  • Adobe Lightroom

  • Afterlight

  • PicsArt

  • kirakira+

  • Glitch Studio

  • Enlight Pixaloop

  • Canva

  • mojo