Instagram is a great place to visually share a brand’s style and your own personal lifestyle through beautiful square photos. What makes an Instagram profile really appealing depends on four qualities we’ve outlined below. I explain these qualities below as “ingredients” and share some brand and blogger examples along with simple ways you can improve your brand’s or your own personal Instagram account.

Ingredient 1: A Styling Aesthetic

For Brands: Identifying the brand’s aesthetic and fully embracing that ‘look’ is important when managing an Instagram account for a brand. Many brands have mastered the ‘flat lay’ look by carefully placing products paired next to coordinating items like flowers, accessories, vintage pieces, dessert or drinks, and anything else that helps set the scene of the shot. Flat lay-styled Instagrams account for over half of Nordstrom’s posts in the last month.

A Flat Lay by Nordstrom.

First person shots are also another popular style for brand photos on Instagram. It gives the sense of being personal, and allows fans to envision themselves in that scene. It’s a great way to share the lifestyle associated with the target audience, with beautiful places, subtle logos, incorporated products encouraged.

First-person perspective image by Nordstrom.

For Users: You don’t need a professional camera to have a great Instagram. Styling your favorite things, new purchases, your beautiful breakfast, and your OOTD (outfit of the day) with flat lays and first person shots is great for giving your personal account a next-level feel. Take cues from your favorite brands but give your personal twist to your shots.

Ingredient 2: Set A Color Scheme

For Brands: Sticking with a color scheme can really give your Instagram a nice, polished look. Choose a few colors or identify the main colors of the brand (ie: for Starbucks I’d say it’s green, white, brown, black & white). Madewell has a very neutral color theme with lots of whites, browns, and shades of denim.

Choose either a neutrals theme (Madewell’s look), neutrals with pops of color (Starbucks’ look – below), or lots of color (Target’s look), all depending on the brand’s style.

Starbucks has a variety of different shots, with the majority fitting their main colors and lighting that I’d say fits Seattle well…gray skies but nice light. A great overall theme you can recognize.

For Users: You too should pick either a color scheme or even just a lighting scheme. Choosing to share images that are all taken around bright natural lighting but not directly under the sun will give your photos a nice correlating look. Over time you may change color or lighting schemes as your tastes change or the seasons change.

Example: Blogger Local Milk has a variety of beautiful very light and very dark Instagram images mixed together. The styling of them are all very similar but each one is unique in its own way. Her unique images alone tell the story of her life and style, giving her a very memorable Instagram profile.

Ingredient 3: A Regular Posting Frequency

For Brands and Users: Sticking to a posting frequency is a great idea. We recommend posting 1 – 2 Instagrams a day, every day. Use Iconosquare to see your statistics (it’s back to bring free!). Then go to ‘Optimization’ and look for the biggest circles to see when when your community interacts with your Instagram posts the most.

Our Iconosquare stats tell us that the best times to post onto our Instagram are from 4-6 p.m. on weekdays and from 8-11 a.m. on Saturdays.

Ingredient 4: Good Descriptions + Hashtags

For brands: Sharing interactive, fun, and informative descriptions is a great way to build your Instagram engagement. Make them short and sweet and if a product is in the image, share the name of it. Instead of posting a closed sentence, ask what fans are doing or their favorite products or things to do.

Always try to post more affirmative, or positive, sentences than negative ones as well. Avoid always saying things like, “We never miss happy hour!” Although the meaning is positive, when readers see ‘never’ they may subconsciously associate it with negativity. Instead say, “We always love a good happy hour!” Small changes like that can make a big difference. It’s your call on your brand’s hashtag policy, but we usually try to stick to no more than three hashtags per post and only hashtag roughly a fourth of our posts.

For Users: Descriptions? Do what you feel is right. Most importantly? Be yourself! With hashtags… are yours usually long and funny? Are there a lot? Do you only stick to 1? Do you never use hashtags? Just do what feels right. If your goal is just more followers, feel free to add #follow, #followme, #follow4follow, etc… to make more Insta-friends. The most popular hashtag on Instagram right now? #love.

What are your favorite brands and bloggers to follow on Instagram? Any tips or examples? Read 10 Pinterest Goals for Bloggers and Brands in 2015 and Instagram Tips & Tricks 2015 for more social media tips and examples!

Read More: Why Instagram is Becoming the Dominant Social Network