Surprisingly Awesome Insta-brands and How You Can Be One Too

| 2060 Digital

With more than 300 million monthly active users, Instagram is a gold mine for both large and small brands that know how to properly leverage the photo-sharing social network to generate user interaction and brand exposure – the key phrase there being “properly leverage.” Brands like Nike and Starbucks have near-omnipotent branding capabilities, but there are dozens of other companies and organizations that have surprisingly awesome Instagram accounts as well. Below are seven brands with highly creative and effective Instagram accounts to give you some inspiration for your own marketing efforts.


Sharpie’s Instagram tagline is “Grab a Sharpie and start something,” and the images they post definitely reflect this call to creativity. Instead of just posting stock photos of their product line, Sharpie focuses on sharing images of artwork and various crafts that actual customers have created using Sharpie pens and markers. By highlighting a wide variety of artistic user-generated images, Sharpie is cleverly promoting the idea that a person’s imagination can be realized using their products.


Richard Branson’s somewhat eclectic airline service has long held a reputation for being lighthearted and fun, and their Instagram account definitely follows this tradition. Many of the images posted on Virgin America’s Instagram account make their flights look more like parties than just a way to get from Point A to Point B. Billing their service as a “Breath of Fresh Airline,” Virgin America fosters customer engagement by encouraging their Instagram followers to tag their travel photos with @VirginAmerica so that the airline can follow them on their adventures.


This prescription eyewear and sunglasses retailer offers an interesting mix of product photos, user-submitted images and behind-the-scenes company footage on their Instagram account. Their unique business model is also highlighted in their profile text; for every pair of glasses that are sold, a pair is donated to someone in need. One particularly notable aspect of Warby Parker’s Instagram account is that they occasionally post photos that don’t feature their products at all, but still reflect the spirit of the company; one such photo is of the exterior of a popular restaurant not far from Warby Parker’s Frame Studio in New Orleans.


If you have a product line as diverse as GE’s, it can actually pose a challenge in terms of deciding what to focus on with your Instagram efforts. GE has cleverly navigated this complexity by focusing instead on the heart and soul of the company, which is science and innovation. Their Instagram is full of photos highlighting various quotes from some of history’s most famous thinkers, as well as images of some of their latest mind-bending inventions. GE also often features special promotions and contests in order to encourage user engagement.


The TSA’s Instagram feed has developed an almost cult-like following due to its documentation of the odd and sometimes scary items that are caught–and often confiscated–by airport security checkpoints all across the USA. Guns, knives, concealed explosives, and yes, even live snakes, have all been captured and posted in the TSA’s bizarre photo gallery, with accompanying statements from the administration to help reinforce various security policies. With all of the controversy that has surrounded the TSA over the past few years, this foray into the world of social media has helped humanize the brand.


The Instagram account for this unique men’s clothing retailer sports the tagline “Giving menswear a kick in the pants since 2007.” Bonobos frequently features its Instagram followers as models, as the company will often post photos of users wearing Bonobos gear in real-life scenarios. The customer is the primary element in Bonobos’ social media campaigns, which really helps to create a sense of trust and brand loyalty. 


Target has several different Instagram accounts for its various merchandise categories, but the Target Style account is the most notable of the bunch. Target Style often builds its visual messages around near-universal themes such as back-to-school time or fun summer days. Anyone who even remotely follows Target knows how proficient its branding wizardry really is, and the Target Style account puts on an absolute clinic for any company looking to learn how to integrate their products into unique, eye-catching images.

One common thread among all of the above companies is that they utilize Instagram as a means to promote the “ethos” of their brand more than just one particular product or service. The most successful brands have mastered the art of linking a certain feeling, emotion or idea with their company through visual means. If you can adopt this practice for your company’s Instagram strategy, you may be surprised at the response you’ll receive.