top of page


Instagram aesthetic: How to develop a uniquely designed grid for your restaurant

Instagram Aesthetic: How to Develop a Uniquely Designed Grid for Your Restaurant

It’s no secret that Instagram has had a massive effect on how the food and beverage industry functions—there are entire establishments planned around their restaurant social media marketing strategy, from the decor on the walls to the plates the food is served on. And for good reason: It works. Because 60 percent of US-based consumers say that online photos influence their dining decisions, it’s so important to have a vibrant Instagram presence that captures your drool-worthy fare and the delightful experience your customers can expect.

Crafting a distinct Instagram aesthetic can help to create a sense of place, drive potential customers to your restaurant website and show them how much care you put into your business. Luckily, you don’t need to be a professional photographer or own an expensive camera to develop a gorgeous grid; all you need is your smartphone, an editing tool, and a plan.

1. Keep the lighting and perspective consistent

Food photographer and stylist Amanda Wilens says that finding a consistent style for a restaurant’s Instagram page is critical for Instagram marketing. Whether you want your images to be soft and airy (using diffused light), bright and high-contrast (with direct, hard light), or dark and moody (with a single light source in a dark room), make sure that you’ll be able to recreate the aesthetic every single time. “Creating a mood board of the style you’re hoping to create will help you stay on-brand during your shoots,” said Wilens.

Wilens suggests setting up near a window and, if possible, turning off overhead fluorescent lights. "They provide that nasty glare, and they'll show up on random parts of your photo," she said. After finding a place with good, natural light, use that exact spot around the same time (so that the quality of light is similar) for future shoots, but change the shot's perspective. "If you're shooting on the same spot, change up your angles so that you have an overhead shot, a straight-on shot, and one at a 45-degree angle,” she explained. Doing so will prevent your photos from looking the same every time.

An Instagram grid showing bright, colorful pictures of brunch food and graphics of the cafe logo.

2. Make a plan for photographing special events

Things are a bit different when you’re working to capture candid images of your guests enjoying themselves. Kate Howser, the owner of Kate's Mobile Bar, has been a one-person show since she started bartending special events from an adorably renovated horse trailer. In addition to preparing drinks and implementing cocktail trends, she also takes the photos that she uploads to her Instagram page which, she says, has been very helpful for promoting her business.

Rather than simply photographing her guests or the drinks she serves them, Howser works to visually and cohesively demonstrate her restaurant branding. To do so, she plans out four or five shots in her head prior to the event; having that focus helps her meet her content creation goals. Still, she recognizes that the events she hosts are largely out of her control, so she goes with the flow and monitors the vibe of the crowd to determine the right time to take a photo.

3. Edit your old photos to match

If you already have a set of photos that you love, but they don't conform to a uniform theme, you can use templates, graphics, and filters to create a cohesive social media design. Build a branding guide full of elements with matching aesthetics that you can follow whenever it’s time to take a new photo.

A photo of waffles in the social media design editor with order online graphics.

4. Follow a social media schedule

Sundae Donuts serves both donuts and ice cream, so it makes sense that their grid is richly saturated and delightfully cheerful. Still, achieving that uniformity wasn’t all fun and games. General Manager Shannon Prouse says that developing such a striking Instagram account as part of your social media marketing strategy can be time-consuming, so organization is critical. "Create a schedule and focus on a different area of the business to get photos each week,” she suggests. Her team, for example, might focus on donuts for one week, then on ice cream for the next. To keep the flow of content even, you can use your CRM to schedule posts in advance.

Developing an Instagram grid with a clear aesthetic will take some trial and error, but as with all restaurant marketing, the effort you put into it will certainly pay off.

Was this article helpful?

bottom of page