Wondering how to draw more customers to your brick-and-mortar business? Try adding design details that will boost its Instagrammability.
When people post photos of your space on Instagram, you benefit from the free advertising and positive word of mouth. Plus, having an Instagrammable space is an asset when it comes to attracting customers, especially those who are willing to make a trek for the perfect photo backdrop.
We know not every business can emulate Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, which has literal giraffes hanging out with the visitors— maybe the most Instagram-worthy concept I’ve ever seen.
But there are lots of attainable (and affordable!) ways to make your business Instagram friendly. Here are a few tried-and-trued ideas from some of the platform’s most-tagged spaces.
Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps a lifestyle photographer used to grow from 0 to 600,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.
10 ways to make your business Instagrammable
1. Go green with plants and flowers
Churchill Arms is a classic British pub in London— in that sense, there are a million other pubs just like it. But it’s become a photo landmark thanks to its floral exterior:
If that’s a little ambitious for your taste, Vancouver restaurant Botanist pulls the greenery inside in a more attainable way:
Plants and flowers will brighten up your space and add cheerful, colorful accents for photographers seeking the perfect shot.
Worried your Instagram investment might wither and die? Fake plants look almost as nice online!
2. Provide an accent wall
Often, Instagrammers are looking for an ideal backdrop for their selfie. Or the popular “holding up my food for the camera” photo:
Give them what they want with an accent wall. Choose a well-lit location in your space, and add some visual excitement with a mural or bright wallpaper. Planta Toronto’s leafy wallpaper is a popular choice:
You’ll want to go with bright colors or patterns, as Instagrammers are looking for something that will stand out on the feed.
Neon signs are also popular on Instagram, if you’re not inspired by paint or wallpaper. Little Bean in Portland, which makes vegan non-dairy desserts, has a cheeky sign celebrating their surprise ingredient. It makes many appearances on Instagram:
3. Add a patterned floor
Instagram is really into floors. For proof, just check out the 800,000+ posts tagged #IHaveThisThingWithFloors.
They’re ideal for a selfeet (that’s a selfie of your feet), and they’re also nice for people who feel a little self-conscious taking photos in public. After all, no one can tell if you’re taking a photo of the floor or just looking down at your phone.
Patterned tiles are especially popular choices, if you want to upgrade your entire floor.
If you want more of a spot-upgrade, writing on the floor is also very Instagram-friendly. A few coffee shops have figured this out, like Reunion Island Coffee. Their apt floor message has been Instagrammed hundreds of times:
So has the friendly welcome at Safehouse Coffee.
For the budget-conscious business owner, you could even try a graphic area rug or bright carpet. Ensure your floor has breathing room (don’t put your best rug under a table) so photographers can find the best angle.
And if you’re installing an accent piece, like a tiled message, make sure it gets good light.
4. Don’t forget about products and packaging
Packaging is another opportunity to shine. To-go containers, cups, and bottles should have an appealing and distinct look to build brand recognition.
Glossier is one brand that does packaging extremely well. The pink pouches that they use for shipping (a Millennial-hued twist on bubble wrap) have become status symbols, thanks to Instagram:
You can also consider special touches for the items you serve or products you sell. La Glace serves their ice cream in slim chocolate cones that look dreamy on Instagram:
These details set your business apart from competitors, online and offline.
5. Light up the room
If your business has good windows or amazing natural light, take advantage of it! Ensure your most well-lit spaces are also carefully curated. Don’t crowd them with too many products or boxes that will throw shadows around and make it hard to see (and photograph) details.
Natural light is ideal, but if you don’t have it, fake it with warm and gentle lighting. No matter how beautiful your products are, if the lighting resembles a department store changing room (too harsh, too dim, or too fluorescent), no one will want to take an Instagram Story there.
Beyond bulbs, add reflective surfaces like metal and glass to diffuse light and illuminate your business from all angles. Designer Craig Stanghetta points out that lighting from below is more flattering than shadowy overhead lights. That’s part of why Kissa Tanto, a restaurant he designed, is so Instagram photo-friendly:
6. Go all-in on a theme
This one requires a little more commitment, but it can really pay off. Going hard on a theme that’s a signature color, mood, or concept pays off with a big “wow” factor when executed well.
NYC restaurant Pietro Nolita is a perfect example. Everything in their space, from the napkins to the exterior walls, is bright pink. Their restaurant motto isn’t “Pink as F***” for nothing!
Similarly, The Standard hotel in LA boasts a buttercup yellow restaurant. It’s irresistible Instagram bait:
7. Selfie-friendly mirrors
Are you selling apparel, jewelry, or anything else people put on their bodies? Make sure you’ve added mirrors for selfies. Your customers will need to try on your products, and flattering reflections can help boost sales.
Position them to maximize natural lighting, or add warm lighting around the frame. Ensure they’re large enough for group or full-body photos, and make sure there’s nothing unsightly in the background.
Take a tip from apparel retailer Outdoor Voices, who adds their signature hashtag #DoingThings to every store mirror. This detail provides new customers with hashtagging hints, and makes it easy to identify an OV selfie.
Likewise, cosmetics company Glossier adds a recognizable company motto (“You Look Good”) to their store mirrors. This means that even selfies that aren’t tagged with the location or account help to build brand recognition.
8. Create a lounge area
Give your products or tables breathing room by creating a photogenic lounge area for your customers. It provides a place to break from shopping, or an inviting spot for customers to sit (and photograph!) their food and drinks.
It’s also an alternative to conventional table-and-chair seating that offers more versatility in photos.
Aritzia is a pro at providing thoughtful seating areas, complete with stylish furniture and reading material. It’s like being in a very hip living room where you can also spend a lot of money.
Lovenote Bride in Calgary combines on-theme wall art with a chill seating space, which looks great in photos with or without shoppers.
9. Add some charm to your bathroom
Why is there always a line for the ladies’ room? Because if it’s cute in there, people are taking selfies.
A bathroom is a very attainable space to beautify, partly because it’s typically small. A little wallpaper, a nice mirror, and good lighting are all you need!
Grey Gardens in Toronto doesn’t even have Instagram but is well-represented on the platform thanks to many, many selfies in its gorgeous bathroom:
Bao Bei is another shining example! There’s something about a floral wall and a round, antique mirror.
10. Dress up the outside, too
So far everything I’ve mentioned has referred to something inside your business… but your exterior is important too! Draw in customers and visitors with your building’s walls or storefront display.
Not only will customers want to step inside, but they’ll also want to post a photo of their visit!
There are hundreds of photos on Instagram of the famous mural at Jo’s Coffee in Austin. It’s even a stop on the Austin Selfie Tour (yes, that’s a real tour!).
And the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs provides visitors with a mural wall that changes each year, renewing interest from returning visitors.
If a mural seems a little ambitious (or if you don’t have that much space to work with), brightening up your front door is another option. The pink doors of the June Motel provide a lovely backdrop to many photos on Instagram.
Try one or more of the ideas above to see how your business can benefit from a few photogenic touches! Never underestimate the appeal of a perfect photo for drawing new and returning customers to your door.
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