How To Brand Yourself On Instagram

Shana Lynn Yao

How To Brand Yourself On Instagram

It sounds weird - for a business owner to brand yourself - but in fact, whatever you do in business, it's now your job not to only sell what you do, but sell who you are. I mean, with over 2 BILLION people on social media, how else do you expect to actually stand out?

Because in fact, no matter what kind of business you have and whoever you are, you are a walking personal brand. Yup! And as Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon said:

Your personal brand is what people say about you after you have left the room.’
— Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon


A bit alarming, I know, but that's just what us humans do. We judge people. And that's actually a GOOD thing. People judge you and you judge other people - that's how we attract our friends that love us and repel people who don't "get" us. 

So instead of worrying what other people think, it's time to gain some clarity in who you are so you can attract your 1000 true raving fans.

Why Instagram Is An Entrepreneur's Best Friend

And this is where Instagram comes in. With over 700 million users a month and 71% of all consumers making purchases based on what they see on social media, AND 65% of all human communication done through pictures... WHY THE HELL NOT? :)

The truth is, Instagram is quickly becoming the social media darling for many business owners. And as someone who has gained more than 7400 followers in just 60 days, I can honestly say if you use it correctly, it can not only grow your brand, but it can manifest your best life.

Yes! Call it the law of attraction (which is based on visualizing...done through IMAGES...hello Instagram!) or the fact that it makes you (literally) have to "get over yourself" on a daily basis, it's one of the best ways to get confident in business, to live your best life and get paid for it, and actually brand yourself.

So if you're ready to create the brand of YOU through Instagram, let's do it! 


Be you! This is the main reason Instagram is my personal social media marketing app of choice. There is no better way to live and love your life out loud. 

Instagram is a photo app - and that means you are literally "paid" (paid by every follower you attract and later paid when you monetize your following) to look your best, do your best and show that through the magic of pictures.

This means, part of branding yourself on Instagram is about showing yourself. It turns out selfies are NOT only for narcissists, they are for business owners who want to communicate the value of YOU.

Can you post other photos that aren't you? Yes - in fact there are many successful businesses that do that too. But we are talking about branding YOU. And as a small business, it's not in fact your marketing budget or how good you are that will determine your success, it's how effectively you can communicate the value of yourself.

And in fact, this is actually fun. After studying the pros themselves (fashion bloggers, of course!) I have learned some fun ways to pose like a fashion blogger to grow your instagram followingwhat actually attracts followers, and how to establish your brand almost without trying.

This is VERY different than what other people are teaching. I mean, has liking and commenting on other people's posts, "giving it time", creating unique hashtags, and the countless other average ways to grow your following worked? 

If not, then you may want to entertain this one little secret about why much of the standard things people teach you don't work for you.

I call it the "thing behind the thing". The "thing behind the thing" is the one thing nobody shares with you - partially because they don't realize it. They don't realize this one little secret they are doing and you aren't. And it's called... BEING CONFIDENT.

Yes it's true. Confidence. It's the hidden "thing behind the thing"of why people buy. They buy your confidence or they buy what you sell so they will feel MORE confident. 

You can see this is true when you look at your own buying history. When you go to Zara and you buy a trendy top, you're buying it because you think it will make you look amazing. Confident. Beautiful. You bought that course you took because you thought learning what it was teaching would make you confident in that particular subject. And you bought the green juice at Whole Foods because it made you feel confident in your health.

It's the reverse when you are the business owner. You sell confidence. You sell it with what you sell. And you sell it in your everyday life. To get your kids to listen to you. To get the job you want. And to attract the friends you have.

It's the same when you show up on Instagram. You have to communicate your brand with confidence. You can't fake it. You actually have to BE IT.  

Marketing is easy when  you make it a part of you.

Remember, the goal here is to let people into your life and to give your audience a peek behind the curtains. Just be yourself and the right people will be attracted to you and your brand.


I's time to have a little truth talk with you about what will attract followers and grow your Instagram. It's called BRANDING. 

Duh you think. But this is surprisingly one of the most common violations people make and why you can't grow your following. Branding is defined by the communication of a message, a style, and a purpose of a brand. It's done through a brand image, a brand style, and your brand story.

That means BEING CONSISTENT. In order to communicate that message and actually create a place in the crowded online world, you actually have to create that place through consistency.

And therein lies the problem. 

"I'm multi-passionate - I can't only show one thing."
"I like a lot of colors - I can't pick just 2."
"Be cohesive? What's that?" 

Being consistent is about knowing who you are at a deep level. What style of clothes do you like to wear? What colors and things are your eyes attracted to? What Instagram feeds do you follow because you love the way they look?

Consistency can be done by choosing your brand colors . Owning your unique style. Being choosy about how you show up. It's congruent. Consistent. Cohesive.

When done correctly, multi-passionate and multi-colors can be your theme. Your goal is NOT to be boring. It's to show your personal style consistently.


Effective marketing is about TELLING NOT selling. And while you may think no one is reading your bio, you would be surprised! There are so many different people and brands on Instagram, staking your claim on you, your brand and yourself is required. You can't (shouldn't) ignore it or throw something up there just because.

Think of your bio as a shortened version of your brand story. It's the statement that defines who you are and what you do,  your likes, and reasons why people should follow you.

Who are you and why are you here? Why does your title say what your last job was and not claiming yourself as a business or blog owner? 

Your Instagram bio gives you 150 characters of prime real estate to show visitors who you are, what you offer, and why they should care. Take the time to get it right.

And that's it! Three quick tips to help you brand yourself online. Truly, a strategy that works is is much more in depth than I can share in this one article. As I said, that "thing behind the thing" - actually being confident online is both an ART and SCIENCE.

But have no fear, #instaloveaffair the free challenge is launching soon. In the meantime, what can you start doing today to brand yourself on Instagram? Share your actions steps below and let's get you a brand that connects you to your 1000 true fans.

Shana Yao & Harlow - Brand Strategist & Podcast.JPG

Shana Yao is a strategist, a healthy lifestyle advocate and Chief Experience Officer at Total Genius. With a passion health and helping others achieve personal success, she, along with over 28 years of experience managing multimillion dollar retail and shopping center locations, including the famed Rodeo Drive, she has spent years studying the human mind, neurology, psychology, and neurolinguistic programming to help others create their own definition of an amazing life.

She works with high achieving clients to discover their "genius" - their passion and purpose - so they can use it in their work, do what they love and make a bigger impact in the world. She is host of the My Amazing Life podcast on iTunes, dog mom, and lover of life. You can find her at the coolest coffee shops in LA working on her mission, or connect with her on her favorite social media app, Instagram (of course!) @total_genius on Instagram.