A Disney-inspired Guide to Instagram for Brands (In 10 Key Lessons)

Instagram has quickly grown from a niche iOS app into a booming community of 300 million monthly active users. According to data collected by Iconosquare, 70% of Instagramers have looked for a brand on Instagram and 41% follow or would follow a brand to benefit from special offers. On top of that, 32% of Instagramers follow more than 5 brand accounts, showing that they are willing and eager to learn from their favorite products and services through this mobile platform. These facts open up amazing opportunities for brands that are considering an Instagram presence. If you are one of them, read on!

Perhaps no brand has mastered the art of delightful content like Disney. Their powerful Instagram presence includes multiple accounts like @Disney, @Disneyland, @DisneyStore, @WaltDisneyWorld, @DisneyStudios, @DisneyCruiseLine, @DisneyPixar, @DisneyAnimation, @OhMyDisney, and @DisneyStyle to name a few. Together they entertain over 4.4 million Instagram followers daily!

It is no surprise, then, that this post is about learning 10 key Instagram branding tips from a brand that has been hugely successful at it. And here we go:

1. Mix it up with different image styles:

Because we are used to seeing photos with fancy filters on Instagram, including hand-drawn and artisanal styles can help break through the visual clutter. In this example, Disney used a raw sketch of Mickey Mouse to send a cheerful message to their Instagram audience.

Oh, boy! May your day be filled with joy!

A photo posted by Disney (@disney) on


2. Inspire your followers with quotes:

The quotes that you post say a lot about your brand’s personality, vision and values. In this example, Walt Disney’s words are used to remind the audience about the company’s essence; but don’t be intimidated by brands with iconic founders! Even though you may not have come up with these thoughts in the first place, the fact that you are selecting and publishing them indicates that they reflect who you are. Or, in this case, what your brand is all about.

3. Give them an insider’s perspective:

Show your followers what it’s like to be a part of your team. If they love your product/service, they’ll be thrilled to see some behind-the-scenes action. Publish unique content that they won’t find anywhere else and give them an extra reason to follow you on Instagram (that is, in addition to everywhere else!).


4. Show the human side of your business:

People relate to people, and if your brand feels like people, they’ll relate to you too. In this picture, @WaltDisneyWorld is showing its audience how an adorable baby girl completed her first park visit (notice the pin on her chair). How can we not relate to someone’s first Disney experience? And if we can’t, because we’ve never been there before, how can we not wish we were there? And that, my friends, is the entire point behind humanizing your Instagram pictures: empathy.

Already dreaming of coming back! (Photo: @mylillottie) #waltdisneyworld A photo posted by Walt Disney World (@waltdisneyworld) on


5. Play with perspective & focus:

Try a closeup. Instagram is largely about visual interest, so why not introduce an interesting part of your business for its graphic appeal? In this case, Disney is asking followers to guess which park attraction is being depicted — while giving them just a small design detail as a clue.

Name this attraction! (Photo: @jess__actually) #waltdisneyworld

A photo posted by Walt Disney World (@waltdisneyworld) on


6. Organize seasonal contests:

People get excited around holidays, and that makes them ideal opportunities to create fun experiences that boost engagement. In this example, Disney organized a Halloween-themed contest called #DisneySide (note the custom hashtag used to recognize entries). They invited followers to tag their spookiest snacks to win a private midnight party in the Haunted Mansion. Come up with your own amazing prize: one that makes sense for your audience and brand. * A fun 6-second promo video doesn’t hurt!


7. Go retro:

#ThrowbackThursday is not the only way to leverage the vintage trend that so many Instagrammers love. How about a pixelated, 8-bit image/video of your product? Disney created this fun animated video to celebrate Mickey Mouse’s 86th birthday.

Happy #Birthday #MickeyMouse! #8bit #retro

A video posted by Walt Disney World (@waltdisneyworld) on


8. Share a little history:

Along the same lines, people love to know your brand’s past, where you came from & who was behind it back then. In this post, Disney features a 1992 image of Andreas Deja — the animator behind Aladdin’s Jafar. (How do we know it’s 1992? Notice the small calendar detail in the bottom right. Clever!).


9. Highlight your community:

Some brands leave aside valuable user generated content because they have a team working day in and out on “original” pieces. Your customers’ images are original too! In fact, because they emerge from genuine experiences with your product, we could argue that they are the most original you can get. Look out for media content that your users are generating with their very own smartphones and let them take the stage!

All is calm, all is bright! (Photo: @matthewcooperphoto) #waltdisneyworld

A photo posted by Walt Disney World (@waltdisneyworld) on


10. Spice it up with video:

Videos let us share movements and sounds that would otherwise get lost in the static nature of an image. Because they are not as common as pictures, they can help break the flow in an Instagrammer’s feed — much like the hand-drawn art in tip #1. Look at Disney’s campaign to promote their tacky holiday sweaters. Tacky or not, they became an instant hit with hundreds of Instagrammers.

Don’t you wish your tacky holiday sweater had a #DisneySide? Follow ‘waltdisneyworld’ on Snapchat to design your own! A video posted by Walt Disney World (@waltdisneyworld) on

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