A flat lay usually includes clothes, flowers, accessories and food (often coffee) laid out in perfect fashion. Like so…
But like everything else in life, some flat lays are more “likeable” than others. We used the eBench 20/20 mosaic to surface top Instagram flat lays, contrast them to bottom flat lays and derive patterns, do’s and don’ts.
20 most liked flat lay Instagram posts for H&M for the past year (i.e. surveying the preferences of 15m+ H&M followers over hundreds of posts.
Notice that all top visuals feature neutral colour backdrops (greys, creams, whites or beiges) with some texture (concrete, marble, sand). They generally used softer or more natural lighting. The items included were often more colourful or ‘vibrant’ than the background, in effect guiding scrolling consumers’ eyes where it matters.
All of the top performers used multiple product categories (shoes, tops, accessories, makeup), which from a tactical point of view makes the post findable by more consumers, whether looking for inspiration on #shoes, #tops, #makeup, #hat, etc.
Last, notice products were blended with various props (donuts, flowers, watermelons, beaches) to add a narrative element to the visual.
The 20 least liked flat lay Instagram posts for H&M look different, don’t they?
Bottom performers more often feature colourful backdrops with no added texture. Lighting is harsher and less natural. Posts still take advantage of multiple product categories, but poor composition (e.g., large empty gaps between objects) gives the image a disjointed, instead of a cohesive, look and feel. Lastly, bottom performing posts were less likely to add consumer relevant props, robbing post of the meaning implied in more top 20 performers.
Having looked at a number of apparel brands, we’re sharing a few of our tips for mastering the flat-lay for fashion. Please note that do such analyses (in much more depth) for any brand, category, #hashtag for any and
1. Use softer, more natural lighting
2. Don’t kill images with filters! Instead, create a soft/vintage feel using a soft focus lens and lighting to preserve image colour and product quality
3. The more the merrier: use products and props to create complete narratives and personalities
4. Use background textures when possible (Wood, marble, tile or draped fabric)
5. Use composition (size and placement of objects) to direct the eye, remember to keep the main subject, your product, in the centre of the image
6. Composition (again). If you’re working with long articles of clothing (pants, dresses, shirts), be sure to avoid empty gaps
7. Geometry can be your ally: use shapes and patterns to create appealing images and stories
8. Clutter should be meaningful and make images feel interesting, not confusing
9. Colour proportion: It’s (usually) better to include neutral backdrops with ‘pops’ of hues from the product
10. Let photos look like photos – Don’t place products in a way that make them feel flat, stiff or artificial
If you find the above insights stimulating, know that they are only the tip of the iceberg. Our visual and semiotic analyses go much deeper, and have been successfully conducted for beer, coffee, soft drinks, fashion, spirits, cosmetics, skincare, and food clients.
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