Portfolio Mediums: How We’ve Gone from B&W Prints to Instagram Grids
We’ve come a long way from the days of black and white print communication. Back then, the only cost-effective way to publicly showcase one’s products and services was to place a paid black & white advertisement in the Classifieds section and hope it was interesting enough to stand out from the sea of similar text ads on the page.
Whether you’re a freelancer, entrepreneur, small business owner or corporate organisation, the challenge remains the same: to promote visibility of your products and services in a way that resonates with the target audience. The medium we use to showcase our portfolio of works and offerings directly shapes the public’s perception of the brand, which makes it a critical element of the branding process.
To fully appreciate how far we’ve come and how greatly the communications and branding landscape has evolved, let’s take a quick journey back in time.
1665 saw the publication of the first ever English newspaper known as the Oxford Gazette, which was later renamed the London Gazette. Meanwhile in America, the first successful newspaper called the Boston News-Letter was published in 1704. During those early days, newspapers were a luxury only accessible to wealthy Americans who could afford advance subscriptions.
It wasn’t until the 1830s when technological advancements and increased literacy led to an explosive growth of newspaper publishing across the United States. The Industrial Revolution followed, spawning giant presses that could print 10,000 papers per hour. Besides mass production, technological innovations introduced pictorial weekly newspapers with detailed illustrations.
After decades of communicating to the public solely via print, the 1920s brought marketers a new medium: radio. This opened the gateway to national and international audiences. Brands were now able to tell consumers all over the world about their products using creative audio content.
One of the first to capitalize on this, P&G sponsored daytime serial dramas on radio to promote their household products for housewives. Those dramas were later dubbed “soap operas” due to their association with sponsors such as P&G’s Oxydol, Duz and Ivory soaps.
Then, television came along and revolutionized digital marketing. It was in 1941 that the first paid television ad was broadcast in the United States for Bulova watches.
Following the advent of the World Wide Web in 1989, the first brand websites sprung into existence alongside banner ads in the mid 1990s, a classic example being Pizza Hut’s version 1.0 website from 1994.
Fast forward to the present. Now websites aren’t limited to desktops or laptops; we can access them on our phones and tablets too. Not only that, the way we showcase our portfolio and the mediums available to us keep evolving on a daily basis.
While having a website portfolio is mandatory for any business, we are now able to complement websites with social media portfolios for wider reach and personalized interactions with our target audiences.
TheFacebook (as it was originally called) ran its first banner ad in 2004. Its emergence was followed by YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and more.
Instagram: as versatile as it is functional
Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has charted phenomenal growth. It became the number one free photography app within a few hours of its launch, and by December 2010, the app had gained over a million users. Today, the highly versatile photo and video-sharing app has amassed over 800 million monthly active users.
Besides sharing photos and videos, the more creatively inclined users have discovered dynamic ways to showcase their portfolios using the flexible Instagram grid. Notable examples include the following:
Misha Nonoo’s Insta-show: a fashion show designed specifically to replace the standard runway experience with a full-screen, immersive Instagram experience, not unlike Mercedes-Benz’s ‘A Scroll Through Time’ Instagram vehicle showcase,
Ji Lee’s Instagram design portfolio (pictured to the right) where each post on the grid is labelled for easy identification and navigation, and tagged to link to other Instagram accounts for different projects,
Designed to look like a huge illustrated mural, Madrid-based designer Jose Navajas’ elaborate Instagram portfolio is made of 515 images and 21 Instagram accounts. Pictures with a yellow tab on the corner are tagged to link to a separate Instagram account for more information on the project, keeping it interesting rather than just scrolling through pages of text.
Do you use Instagram to showcase your work and offerings? If not, you might be missing out, based on the following Instagram statistics:
80% of users follow at least one business on the app
60% learn about a product or service through the app
As of March 2017, over 120 million Instagram users have visited a website, emailed or direct messaged a business
At least 30% of Instagram users have purchased a product they first discovered on the app
Your Instagram audience is waiting.