How Influencers Are Creating Personalized Covers For Instagram Story Highlights

photographed by Lauren Maccabee.
Whenever Instagram releases a new feature, a common pattern occurs: Users play with said feature; someone adopts a stylish approach; and other people catch on and imitate it until it goes mainstream.
This is the process that's beginning to happen with Stories Highlights, a tool Instagram launched this past December that lets you save past Stories to your profile. Many users categorize these Highlights: There might be one collection of food-related Stories posts, another for shopping, and a third for travel. For each Highlight, you have an option to select a cover image, which will appear on your profile, in a small circle above your feed posts.
The default for this cover image is the Story in that Highlight that you posted first. So, if you're including Story posts from January 5 and 6, the first one to go up on January 5 would appear as your cover photo, although you can always select another Story post from the Highlight to take its place.
But if you scroll through the Highlights on the profiles of influencers such as Marianna Hewitt and Jessica Graf, you'll see stylized logos as each of the cover images. These are created using third-party apps, not Instagram, and offer an opportunity to give your Highlights a more cohesive look.
Ahead, a complete guide to four apps you can use to create personalized Highlight cover images of your own.
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Canva is a go-to design app recommended by Plann and Preview, two well-known Instagram grid-planning apps.

To make a Highlight cover, open Canva and tap "Instagram" along the upper toolbar. Select the blank template below. From here, you can add a background color as well as any graphics and icons. Keep in mind that it's best to keep the design simple since it will only appear in a tiny circle on your profile page.

When you're finished, tap "share" and select Instagram. Post the image to your Stories and, once your Story is live, tap the "Highlight" icon (you need to share the image to your Stories in order to use it as a Highlight cover). Once you save the post to your Highlights, you can go ahead and delete it from your Story and add it as the cover image for any Highlight.

Canva, free, available on the App Store and Google Play.
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Logo Maker is similar to Canva, but comes with many different, themed icons, including a large variety of food, entertainment, and animal options. If you see too many people using the logos you like on Canva, Logo Maker is a good way to differentiate your Highlights. However, the cost factor is worth considering: You get a free three-day trial, but if you want to continue using the app, you'll need to pay $9.99 per month.

After downloading the app, tap "create new" and choose any background color you like. The middle triangular icon along the bottom toolbar will give you access to all of the app's icon. When you're done designing, tap the checkmark in the upper right hand corner and export the image to Instagram. Then, share it to your Stories and follow the steps outlined in Slide 1.

Logo Maker Shop, free, available on the App Store.
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Watercolor Logo Maker offers a more artistic take on Highlight covers with designs done in watercolor.

When you open the app, start by choosing your "logo style". (If you want to unlock all the styles, you'll need to pay $9.99, which is worth it if you plan on using the app multiple times, but not for a single use case.) Whatever you pick will serve as the background for any icons you place on top of it. Then, change the color or tap "art" along the bottom toolbar to access everything from watercolor animals to flowers. When you've found an icon you like, tap the export icon in the upper right-hand corner and save the design to your camera roll.

Open Instagram Stories, swipe up from the bottom of the screen and share the image. Then, save it as a Highlight.

Watercolor Logo Maker, free, available on the App Store.
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A Design Kit is an app created by A Beautiful Mess, the lifestyle company founded by sisters Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman.

Although the app is sold as a photo editor, it can also be used to create stunning Highlight covers. Start by tapping "backgrounds" and choose from a variety of metallic, rainbow, and gemstone-themed options. Select the "Story" template for the correct sizing. Then, choose from the many stickers or (such as this brunch option) and design icons. Again, keep it simple if you want your entire to design to appear in the Highlight circle on your profile.

Once you're done review and share your finished design.

A Design Kit, $1.99, available on the App Store.

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