f you’re looking to elevate your Instagram Stories game then look no further than Unfold. Unfold is an app that allows individuals, brands, and other storytellers to create visually stunning and cohesive Instagram Stories with over 250 template options, curated filters, and text tools.
Since its inception in 2017 by Spanish-born architect Alfonso Cobo and Andy McCune (of @earth fame), Unfold was listed on Apple’s Best Apps of 2019 list and Google’s Best of 2018. It was also a finalist for the Innovation by Design Awards from Fast Company in 2019. In October 2019, Unfold was bought by Squarespace and is currently marketed to its customers as an easy-to-use and high-quality marketing tool.
If you’re wondering how Unfold can benefit your brand, then you’ve come to the right place. This article will cover what Unfold is, what kind of features it offers, who’s using it, and how it can help you grow your brand.
What is Unfold?
Unfold’s story can be traced back to Cobo’s Manhattan apartment when he first came up with the idea to present his portfolio. After studying magazine layouts, borrowing $500 from his dad, and hiring a freelance coder, he launched the app (then called Portafolio). However, it wasn’t until Cobo teamed up with McCune (who used the app for his @earth content) that Unfold as it exists today came to be.
Even after McCune and Cobo joined forces, Unfold saw slow growth as the duo relied mostly on word-of-mouth recommendations. But then, at the end of 2017, everything changed.
The first major change came when Instagram allowed users to archive their stories and save them as Highlights. This inspired more brands and influencers to spend more time on their Insta Stories content since they knew it could exist beyond the initial 24-hour lifecycle.
Then, in July 2018, Instagram rolled out its Q&A feature. In an interview with CNBC, Cobo and McCune said Unfold saw explosive growth due to this feature because followers were able to ask their favorite influencers how they created their Stories.
Shortly after, Instagram itself reached out to Cobo and McCune and said it would promote Unfold as a recommended app.
Now, Unfold is holding its own in both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store thanks to its clean, modern, and minimalist design. On the former, it’s currently ranked at #9 for Graphics & Design apps with a rating of 4.9 out of 5 with 125K ratings. On the latter, it has 4.5 stars and boasts over 145K ratings.
Unfold is also continuing to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue every month through Unfold+ subscriptions and brands that partner with the app through its Unfold for Brands feature (more on both of those later). According to SensorTower, the app generated around $500K worldwide in September 2020.
Unfold offers tools for both individuals and brands to create stunning Instagram Story graphics using pre-made or curated templates.
The app is free to download and offers a few free templates such as the Classico Collection or PRIDE Collection. Unfold has also managed to stay relevant by offering special themed collections such as its VOTE! and Stay Home Collections for free.
For other collections, such as Moodboard 01 Film Frames 02, app users can purchase them for prices ranging from $0.99 to $1.99.
Our pro tip for marketers: Using Unfold’s themed template collections that relate to what’s happening in the world (i.e. COVID-19 or the upcoming presidential election) are great ways to engage with your audience since they fit into larger national or global conversations.
Filters and Effects
Unfold’s large selection of curated filters and effects are sure to match any aesthetic (something very important for any serious Instagram influencer or brand).
Currently, Unfold offers a selection of free filters, such as Tulum and Brighton, and others that are only accessible for those who subscribe to Unfold+. This subscription-based feature allows users exclusive access to fonts, collections, filters, and stickers (don’t worry, we’ll go more in depth later in this post).
Our pro tip for marketers: Make sure the message you’re trying to get across matches any filter you choose to use. Nothing is more off-putting than images that don’t match with the text. Also, make sure to use heavy filters sparingly — we don’t need a repeat of early 2010s Instagram again. Today’s Gen Zers often opt for lowkey or almost not-there filters, if that fits your brand’s look then make sure to keep to it.
Unfold’s text tools have free fonts such as Playfair and Rustico, as well as fonts users can pay for like Sebastien and Graphik. Users can also adjust the size of the text and spacing between the letters and the orientation. These new fonts are special because they aren’t offered natively in Instagram. This shows that the person who put together the story on Unfold took extra time and care to craft something rather than typing the message in-app.
Our pro tip for marketers: Make sure to use fonts that are easy to read and try to limit your text on each Stories frame. While Insta-savvy users know that you can hold down on a Stories post to freeze it and read it, others may not and 15 seconds passes fast if you’re trying to understand the content as well as take in all the visual elements.
For a yearly membership or $2.99 per month, users have access to over 100 story templates and fonts, early access to new collections, and exclusive release with Unfold+.
This option is perfect for professional influencers and other storytellers who want to make sure their content stands out. The concept capitalizes on the exclusivity factor of certain templates, as well as on society’s shift toward subscription-based businesses (a trend further exacerbated by COVID-19.) The subscription model allows for people to save money over the long term while also allows the app to have consistent revenue to prop up their freemium model.
How Can Marketers Use Unfold?
Unfold is one of the few emerging platforms that marketers can directly use to engage with their audiences. In November 2018, Unfold launched Unfold for Brands. This feature offers everything from Unfold+ in addition to brand-specific templates and the ability to store images on the web under a stori.es domain. By uploading Unfold creations to the web, brands can make them more accessible to a wider audience and have a place to store them outside of Instagram.
Brands can upload their own logos, stickers, fonts, and colors to keep their creations consistent. Another feature worthy of mentioning is the ability to edit and manage their Unfold content on a webpage. This feature can make editing and content management easier for brands that plan out social media campaigns weeks in advance.
Who's Using Unfold?
Influencers, celebrities, and top brands alike have embraced Unfold and are using it to elevate their Insta Story game.
Instagram queens and two of Gen Z’s favorite artists — Selena Gomez and Camila Cabello — use Unfold to craft their Stories that reach their collective audience of over 244 million followers. Gomez has even gone as far as to partner with Unfold itself to launch her own template collection following her 2019 American Music Awards performance. Other smaller influencers are also using the app and Gen Z is taking notice and downloading it to create their own, equally aesthetic Stories.
Other brands like Tommy Hilfinger and the Billboard Music Awards teamed up with Unfold to create themed templates. These partnerships not only increased the number of downloads for the app but elevated brand awareness as well.
Instagram Stories are a powerful marketing tool that, when done right, can drive engagement among your target audience and help you expand your brand’s reach. Stories can also be a place where you can test out new content and flex your brand’s creativity (and if it sees positive feedback, you can save it to Highlights.) And while Stories should have compelling content, that doesn’t mean you can let the visual aspect of it fall by the wayside.
While there are a few other apps similar to Unfold on the market, Unfold itself is the most powerful for marketers and its impressive roster of brands, celebrities, and influencers who use it are a testament to its easy and sophisticated templates that elevate their Stories above the fold.
Unfold is also one of the few apps that brands can actively use and engage with — allowing you to easily create Stories content that will have your audiences checking your content every day.