For creatives and influencers, Instagram highlights are a powerful tool to showcase specific topics or ideas that resonate with their audience. Whether it’s makeup tutorials, fitness tips, or travel adventures, highlight covers in Instagram can help highlight those categories on your profile.
If you want to take your Instagram game to the next level in 2023, you can give your profile a more polished look with a custom highlight cover. In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about creating Instagram Story highlight icons that perfectly represent you or your brand.
The good news is that even in case you don’t have a graphic design department in your back pocket, they’re easy to make.
In this article, we’ll provide you with all the steps to create your own Instagram highlight covers.
However, just like Rupi Kaur says, every journey begins with a single step. So let’s begin with the basics.
How to create an Instagram highlight
Create highlights to keep your best Story content at the top of your Instagram profile permanently.
- In your Story, tap Highlight in the bottom right corner.
- Choose the Highlight you want to add your Story to.
- Or, tap New to create a new Highlight, and type out a name for it. Then click Add.
How to create a new Instagram highlight from your profile
Alternatively, maybe you have an idea for a whole new highlight and need to add some different Stories at once.
Here is a step-by-step guide to creating a new Highlight from your Instagram profile:
- Go to your profile and tap the +New button (the big plus sign)
2. Pick the Stories you want to add to your new Highlight.
3. Tap Next and name your new Highlight.
4. Choose your Highlight cover, and tap Done.
Don’t have a highlight cover yet? Read on.
How to create an Instagram highlight cover
Secondly, we will explore how to create an Instagram highlight cover.
Instagram will allow you to use any image you want for your highlight covers. However, your brand deserves better than just ‘any image.’
This space is prime real estate for converting lookie-loos to followers: you need a vibe.
But for those of you who need full artistic freedom over your Instagram brand, these steps will show you the way to build an Instagram highlight cover from scratch (or almost scratch). Don’t worry in case your Photoshop skills are rusty, we’ll be using Canva’s simple, free web tool.
Log in to Canva or create a free account on canva.com.
Create a new image that is sized for Stories.
- Click Create a Design and then custom dimensions to enter the right size.
- You want your cover’s dimensions to be 1080 pixels wide by 1920 pixels tall.
3. Download the free icon set from Hootsuite
Optimize your profile and set your brand apart from the competition.
4. Upload your icon to Canva
- Click Upload an image or video and choose your preferred .png file. Alternatively, you can drag and drop. (One at a time, tiger.)
- Pro tip: if you can’t see your icon on your canvas after you’ve uploaded it, don’t worry: it’s most likely because the icon is white lines on a transparent background. We’ll fix this in the next step.
5. Create your background
- Click Background on the left sidebar. You can choose a color or one of Canva’s free images. (Now your icon will show up, depending on the background.)
6. Make as many highlight covers as you want
- Click Add a new page in order to replicate the background. Then go ahead and upload another icon for each new page.
- Pro tip: I wanted some variation, but not too much, so I used filters on my background images to change them up a bit.
7. Download your highlight covers from Canva
- Click Publish, then Download. Choose your file type (PNG or JPG are both fine). Then click the Download button.
- Your covers will be downloaded as a zip file to your hard drive. Unzip them and transfer them to your phone via email, or Airdrop, or your preferred method.
- Pro tip: Now is a great time to make sure your Instagram account has your Story archive enabled. This is important if you want to go back and see your old Stories without downloading them to your phone.
8. Edit your existing highlights to add your new covers
You no longer have to add an image to your Story (where all your followers will have to swipe past it) in order to make it a highlight cover. Instead, you can just edit the highlight directly:
- Go to your Instagram profile.
- Tap the highlight whose cover you’d like to change.
- Click More in the bottom right corner.
- Tap Edit Highlight.
- Tap Edit Cover.
- Choose the image icon to access your phone’s photo library.
- Choose your beautiful cover.
- Tap Done (actually, tap it three times.)
Voila! Your on-brand Instagram highlight covers are now gracing your profile and unifying your look. Magnifique.
5 ideas for using Instagram highlight covers and icons
Now that you know the simple way to make your unique highlight covers, we’ve got some time-saving tips to make them as effective as possible.
First, show the essence of your brand’s aesthetic
Your brand has its unique colors, font, capitalization, and even some favorite emojis. Your highlight covers are the right place to show off your brand identity through these things.
That said, remember that less is more. These little portholes are pretty small, after all. And clarity is key.
Second, don’t be afraid to experiment
Your Instagram highlights don’t need to do all the things. But they can do one thing very effectively.
For example, Red Bull’s highlights used to be fairly conventional (e.g., Events, Projects, Videos, etc.) However, now they give each of their athletes their highlight. Take a look! They just use faces, names, and emojis. Intriguing.
Meanwhile, the New York Times takes Stories literally. They populate their highlights with exhaustive yet readable primers on complicated political subjects. Moreover, they create fun, snackable Stories about appealing subjects.
Either way, their cover style is completely consistent, which helps make the wide reach of their topics more manageable.
Third, be constant in your organization
There are completely no rules in terms of organizing your Instagram highlights.
However, some brands organize their highlights like they would their website (e.g., About, Team, FAQ). But some brands manage by collection or product (e.g., Winter ’20, New Arrivals, Makeup Line).
I’m here to let you know that however you choose to organize, keep in mind to approach it from your audience’s perspective.
In other words: if they know what they’re going to see, they’re more likely to tap.
Fourth, highlight the Stories that matter most
Ask yourself what’s most essential to your audience. What are they here to see? This season’s collection? Today’s schedule? Or something useful for the longer term, like, for example, the way to pair your flagship earbuds?
For instant, The Met prioritizes potential guests. It shows a helpful guide to this week’s exhibitions at the top of its highlight reel.
Finally, Convert your audience into customers
With the best covers, you may introduce new eyes to your greatest shoppable Stories and swipe-up content (in case you have an Instagram for the business profile with more than 10,000 followers).
For more recommendations on selling products using your Instagram Stories, take a look at our complete guide to Instagram shopping.