How to Create Stunning Instagram Highlight Covers

Instagram highlight covers

Instagram Highlight covers are a perfect way to impress your audiences at first. In your Instagram profile, you can find Instagram Highlight covers are right below the bio section. They provide audiences with a polished look for your Instagram Highlights and draw attention to your best Instagram Story content.

Covers are a simple win for any brand that banks on aesthetics. (And on Instagram, that’s everybody.)

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.

instagram highlight covers

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.

  1. In your Story, tap Highlight in the bottom right corner.
  2. Choose the Highlight you want to add your Story to.
    Instagram story of a dog with a heart symbol above it. Dialog below shows "Add to highlights"
  3. Or, tap New to create a new Highlight, and type out a name for it. Then click Add.

instagram highlight covers

How to create a new Instagram highlight from your profile

Alternately, 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 form your Instagram profile:

  1. Go to your profile and tap the +New button (the big plus sign)

instagram highlight covers

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.

Of course, in case you’re crunched for time, apps like Canva Stories or Adobe Spark have pre-made covers that you can customize and use.

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.

  1. Log in to Canva or create a free account on canva.com.

  2. 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.

Canva dashboard highlight "Create a design" and "Custom dimensions" buttons on the left-hand side menu

3. Download free icon set from Hootsuit

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. Alternately, you can drag and drop. (One at a time, tiger.)

instagram highlight covers

  • 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.

instagram highlight covers

5. Create your background

  • Click Bkground 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.)

instagram highlight covers

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.

under the highlight cover in the Canva dashboard is a button that says +Add a new page

Canva dashboard: on the right is a Story highlight with roses background and suitcase icon, on the left is 3 more icons ready to go

  • Pro tip: I wanted some variation, but not too much, so I used filters on my background images to change them up a bit.

instagram highlight covers

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.

instagram highlight covers

  • 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.

Princess Rosie's Instagram profile with new Instagram highlight covers

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, Video, etc.) However now they give each of their athletes their highlight. Take a look! They just use faces, names, and emojis. Intriguing.

Redbull's Instagram highlight covers

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.

instagram highlight covers

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 an instant, The Met prioritizes potential guests. It shows a helpful guide to this week’s exhibitions at the top of its highlight reel.

The Met's Instagram profile with Instagram highlight covers

Finally, Convert your audience to 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.

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