If you’re serious about using Instagram in your marketing strategy, you need to learn how to use Instagram Highlight covers. Sadly, not everyone knows that you can pick your own customized cover (instead of the first photo that Instagram uses by default) and some aren’t even using Instagram Story Highlights yet.
All in all, it’s one of the platform’s most powerful features that you can use. Here, you can post FAQs, intros to your brand, summaries to past events, etc. This way you can share the most important info and highlight the best of your brand.
In this article, we take you through the steps you need to complete and include a few tips for getting it right the first time around. From simple icons to stock photos, we also include some examples for inspiration.
How to Make Your Own Instagram Highlight Covers (+ 15 Examples):
Steps for Creating Instagram Highlight Covers
One of the easiest ways to create Instagram Highlight Covers is to use Canva. While it’s not the only tool available, it’s one of our favorites. Not only is it really easy to use, but it offers a decent selection of free cover templates and elements that you can add. Here’s how:
Step 1: Open Canva’s website and create a free account.
Step 2: Open Templates and select Instagram Stories. At the top, you’ll see a tab Highlight Cover. When you click on this tab, you’ll be redirected to more than 1,000 templates that you can customize. Alternatively, you can simply enter Instagram Story Highlight Cover into the search bar right at the top of your screen.
Step 3: Select one of the prebuilt templates and click on Customize this template.
Step 4: You’ll be redirected to the editing page. You can now add a wide range of elements such as icons, photos, graphics, text, and videos.
You’re also free to upload your own images from your device. You can, for example, check out a tool like Iconfinder if you’re in search of custom icons for your covers.
You just need to make sure that the license of the icon allows you to use it for commercial purposes if you plan on using it for an Instagram business account.
Step 5: After you’ve customized your cover by adding different elements, click on the Download button that’s found in the right-hand corner at the top.
Adding Your Highlight Cover
After you’ve designed your own cover for your Instagram Highlights, you still need to add it to the actual content. Here’s how:
Step 1: Log into your Instagram account.
Step 2: Select the Instagram Highlight for which you’ve designed the custom cover. Click on More (the icon with the three dots) and select Edit Highlight.
Step 3: Click on Edit Cover and upload your newly designed cover. The most difficult part is probably ensuring that it looks centered. To do this, you might have to scale it and adjust it slightly using your fingers.
Step 4: Add a name that will tell your followers what they should expect when they click on the specific highlight (it should read almost like the different menus that you get at the top of a website).
15 Examples of Effective Instagram Highlight Covers
If you need more inspiration than that offered by Canva’s templates, here are some examples of what other brands have used for their covers.
Dribbble’s use of gradients help to create some consistency. They’ve also taken the time to rename their highlights to something that’s short, yet specific. Think of it almost like a type of call to action.
Canva’s use of highlight covers is one of our favorite examples. Considering that they’re the go-to tool for many influencers and creators for creating custom Instagram Highlight Covers specifically (and the one that we decided to feature), they had to deliver and they did.
The use of playful icons effectively communicates how fun it is to use their software. While it’s rather colorful, they still managed to create a cohesive brand identity by applying a solid background.
3. MKT Heights
MKT Heights followed a similar approach to Canva. They too opted for a range of solid background colors and an icon. Though, one thing that they’ve done differently (or rather more clearly) is to make sure that the actual icon closely fits in with the name of the highlight. While some might find this approach a tad bit too boring, at the end of the day, it’s all about ensuring that followers will know exactly what to expect when they click on a specific link.
4. The Jungalow
The Jungalow has found a way to combine icons and background colors really well. Each cover is unique, yet the use of their iconic green in each individual cover creates a beautiful consistency for instant brand recognition.
Behance mostly uses this Instagram feature to showcase the work of their creative community. They try to create a consistent look by using a photo of the respective creator along with his/her name. It’s simple, but effective.
We love the clever use of color in JC Penney’s highlight covers. They’ve ensured that each cover has a red element somewhere. It’s a great way to tie the different covers together and link it back to the branding. It can be especially useful if your brand identity includes vibrant colors like red that can easily overpower your followers.
7. Beauty Counter
Beauty Counter proves that you don’t have to make it colorful if you want your cover art to stand out. Instead, they’ve opted just to stick to black, showing once again that sometimes the classic color combos work the best.
8. YSL Beauty
Just like Beauty Counter, YSL Beauty shows that the clever use of black and white can have a striking effect. We love how the white lines almost appear as if they glow like a neon sign.
We’ve included K12 on our list of examples for their creative use of icons. For example, K12’s icon that they’ve picked for Success Stories is different, yet very self-explanatory. So, often brands stick to the conventional icons, but K12 proves that this doesn’t always have to be the case.
10. Good Lines
When designing covers for your Instagram Highlights, it’s key that it fits in with your branding. So, if you’re more formal, you might not be able to pull off a quirky icon like Good Lines was able to do.
Considering that breasts (and other body parts for that matter) come in all shapes and sizes, they were able to use that to their advantage and used their icons to emphasize that message. While each icon is slightly different, they managed to create unity with the use of the same solid background color.
Ettitude’s highlight covers are similar to those used by Good Lines. Though, where Good Lines opted for something more playful, Ettitude decided to keep it more minimalistic. Once again, just like Good Lines, they decided to stick to the same solid background color for all of their different colors making it easy to recognize the brand.
Depending on your brand, you might have a much easier task like in the case of Nickelodeon. Instead of designing cover photos from scratch, it made more sense for them simply to use the logos of their different shows. So, if you, for instance, feature highlights about different brands within your own product range, you can follow a similar approach. After all, there’s no need to redesign the wheel. In fact, if Nickelodeon decided to use something else other than these logos, they would probably have confused their followers.
13. The Vitality Vet
While we recommend that you use icons instead of text, it doesn’t mean that you can’t use text in your cover image. The only issue with using text is that too often creators simply repeat the same description in their cover icon. Instead of simply using the exact same phrase, The Vitality Vet used slightly different wording. For example, the description body is paired with fitness and mind is paired with mental wellness. If you can do it like this, it makes sense as you aren’t simply copying but complementing your description.
14. The Wild Bride
Most of the examples included use icons instead of text or photos. Personally, we prefer icons. It’s just easier to keep it uniform. However, The Wild Bride is a good example of how you can use photos and still get a cohesive feel. While the photos aren’t black and white, the husband and wife duo made sure to keep the color scheme neutral. Also, all their photos are more or less the same minimalistic style.
15. Daniel Rueda + Anna Devis
Last, but not least, you can simply just use colors. No text, no icon, no photos. Just colors. You can, for example, try to organize your highlights in such a manner that there’s a subtle flow from one cover icon to the next. This approach can work especially well if you’re in the health or wellness niche where tranquility and peace of mind are key.
3 Tips for Creating Custom Covers
If you’re going to use icons, we suggest that you opt for a solid background color (like Canva has done in the examples above). The trick is to maintain a good contrast between the icon and the background so that everything is clear. You can, for example, check out a tool like Color Hunt where you’ll find eye-catching color combos. If you’ve already identified an icon that you want to use, you can use Iconfinder’s free online editor to recolor the icons. Alternatively, if you’ve used one of Canva’s elements, in most cases, they also offer you the ability to change the colors of the icon.
Choose icons over text
One thing that you’ve probably picked by looking at all the different examples that we’ve shared is that most brands use icons in their cover. While you can use the first letter of the cover’s description, you’re losing out on a valuable opportunity that you can add more information. So, it’s best to find something that adds to the name of the cover instead of simply using something that will repeat it.
That being said, when you’re opting to use icons over text, you should still make sure that there’s a clear connection between the icon and the actual content. Sure, you don’t want to sound repetitive, but you also don’t want to confuse your followers or leave them in the dark. For example, if the highlight is a summary of frequently asked questions, you can use an icon like a question mark, light bulb, speech bubble, or a person deep in thought. This way it will still be clear to them that this highlight deals with questions without you having to use the term FAQ.
Keep it consistent
If you take only one thing away from this article, it’s to apply your branding consistently so that there’s some cohesion. Sure, with a tool like Canva, you have a blank canvas, but that doesn’t mean that each cover should be drastically different.
Instead, it’s best that you decide on a specific style, like a white icon set against a solid background color. Not only should there be an overarching style, but the graphics that you pick should also be similar in style (like white outlines).
Wrapping Things Up
With a custom designed Instagram Highlight cover, it’s much easier to draw the attention of your target audience. Identify your target audience’s main points of interest and design your highlights around that.
While taking the time to create your own covers gives you freedom to play around with, it shouldn’t be at the expense of your branding. That’s why it can be so useful to create templates. This way, you’ll know that each time you’ll use the right shade, alignment, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Canva any good?
Canva is one of the most popular graphic design tools. Thanks to its drag-and-drop interface, it’s very easy to use. It also offers a wide range of templates that you can customize to create various digital assets like Instagram Highlight Covers, infographics, Facebook posts, YouTube channel art, and LinkedIn banners. While Canva is very good, you can also check out an alternative like PicMonkey that offers similar features.
What are some creative Instagram Stories ideas?
In addition to using the Instagram Stories feature to share unedited, live videos, you can also use to create some of the following type of posts:
Introducing team members to your followers
Counting down to an important event
Showing how a product gets made
Creating a fun quiz
Sharing a challenge or contest
How can you get more likes on Instagram?
Getting likes on Instagram isn’t always as easy as you might think. To get more likes on the platform, you’ll need to have a solid strategy in place. Here are some things that you can include in your Instagram strategy:
Test different types of content
Increase the number of videos that you post
Write interesting captions
Add calls to action
Post consistently and at the right time
Include relevant hashtags
What are Instagram Stories Highlights?
Instagram Stories disappear after 24 hours, but with the help of the Instagram Stories Highlights feature, you can keep some of your favorite stories for as long as you want on your account. When you use this feature, Instagram will save your highlights at the top of your profile page. This way it will be one of the first things that other users will see when they visit your profile.
What tools can you use for creating content on Instagram?
From scheduling tools to link-in-bio tools to graphic design tools, there are a number of tools that you can use to create content for Instagram and other social media platforms. You can, for example, check out: