There’s a huge amount of convergence on social media: there are some aesthetics that individuals and brands can’t resist when posting. And when all these people and brands post and discuss similar things in similar ways, those patterns can be cataloged. By taking a look at individual brands’ posting history, we understand where their identity sits within their industry.
To illustrate this concept, today we look at minimalist watches, one of the purest examples of aesthetics-driven Instagram marketing. The brands are MVMT, Triwa, Paul Hewitt, Komono, Kapten & Son, and Cluse, all of which have similar products. But how do these brands selling essentially the same product with the same economics over the same platform to basically the same people differentiate themselves?
The analysis is straightforward. Instagram images dating back to 2017 were grabbed and ran through computer vision architecture that sorts images by their aesthetic content. Using this sorting data, we then map these images to show where certain brands tend to cluster.
To make this analysis more quantitative, we group the images into a few clusters representing different image aesthetics. Below we show a table providing a description and frequency of each aesthetic group.
These image groups are grouped into broader categories.
Using the information from above, there’s now have a data-driven way to characterize the different brands, summarized below.
High on wrist photos and low on lifestyle photos, Cluse appears as a fashion brand. Not content to sell images of the good life, they want you to focus on their products while contextualizing them within fashion.
Kapten & Son
Kapten & Son have more people and less product, suggesting that this is more of an image-driven brand than, say, Cluse. This plays well with its general aesthetic, which has historically been more of a bohemian vibe than a product-driven one.
Komono is more people and product, especially owing to the fact that it is currently selling more than just watches—it wants to get at the fashion of people wearing its sunglasses as well, and, as we can see from the overall map, they tend to have had a more idiosyncratic style.
MVMT is highly overindexed on lifestyle vs. people, suggesting that they are selling a dream. This is borne out by, for example, their move into podcast advertising. When’s the last time you had a fashion brand sell its things over audio? And what do they wish to convey? Two guys sick of expensive watches want to communicate Los Angeles style and class at a lower price point.
Paul Hewitt is focused on selling its product as opposed to the people or lifestyle associated with it. They may have found early on that people initially would send them shots of their watches on their wrists. Our belief is that remaining too long in this state risks the company’s image getting somewhat stale, as it becomes important to contextualize the product in compelling ways or continually update the product itself (which is hard to do!).
Triwa seems to be similar to Paul Hewitt, leaning more on its products themselves to do the selling. Unlike Paul Hewitt, however, they are more concentrated on the overall map, which suggests that there are some areas where they are more visually distinct. Our suspicion is that this has to do with a more sustained use of colorblocked backgrounds and a more overall stylized use of colors, which reflects a distinct branding strategy.
So what have we learned?
- The recurring Instagram set pieces used for watches are broken down into four categories—product, wrist shots, people, and lifestyle. They give a set of overall proportions of these categories.
- There are subtle differences within these categories to help distinguish brands, in a few cases being able to isolate certain approaches unique to one or two brands.
- It’s easy to infer how these different companies approach branding by looking at the proportions of their different image groups.