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Oh Sierra


How to Write On-Brand Captions for Instagram

We help creative leaders harness the potent power of community (online and IRL) with content strategy, education, and events.








Craft Your Unique Cocktail for Content That Connects.


You’ve invested in a beautiful brand for your business, you have a stunning website with professional copy, and now you’re tasked with showing up online to share it with the world.

This is the moment where most brands fall short.

“Branding,” extends beyond visuals and seeps into communication. Every word you say – or, for the purpose of this article, every Instagram caption you write – crafts a personality that your ideal customer can connect with.

It’s in that moment of connection that your audience decides whether they want to stick around and engage with you – and that decision is what ultimately leads to brand loyalty, steadfast community, and some version of success, whatever that looks like for you.

In our post last week, we talked about First Impressions. Today, we’re taking it a step further, teaching you exactly how to write on-brand captions for Instagram so that when your ideal audience lands on your profile, they feel called to stay a while. If video is more your style, you can watch the recorded version of this juicy chat right here.

Readers, let’s do this thing.

Keep scrolling to snag this Lemon, Maple, and Gin cocktail recipe, at the end!


The biggest mistake we see being made in the online space is the desire to be palatable.

While being genuine, compassionate, and inclusive in your message is essential, trying to be just-average-enough-for-everyone-to-like-you is a one way ticket to sounding extremely fucking boring.


Consider this permission to be proudly FOR some people and proudly NOT FOR others.

This is simply a form of niching, and the more deeply you understand who you want to attract, the more pointedly you can develop a voice (and entire business model, honestly) that speaks directly to them.

When crafting a caption for Instagram, there are three elements you want to consider:

  • Tone
  • Language
  • Message

On the surface, these all feel similar – elements of voice that determine the way your brand communicates with its audience.

Butttt, we’re gonna look a little more closely.

Each has a nuanced means of presenting, and when we work with brands on in-depth messaging strategy, we spend hours poring over research to determine (given their market, audience, and positioning) what each category will embody. We can’t go aaalll the way deep on that today, but we’re going to answer some key questions so that you can start showing up more confidently online, NOWSAP.

What is my brand tone, and how do I use it on social media?


“Tone,” by our definition, is the way you say things. Your brand tone could be warm, calm, considerate, friendly – or perhaps it’s elusive, moody, and articulate. If you’re anything like us at Oh Sierra, your tone is a little brash, confident, direct, upbeat, and emotive. Tone is highly influenced by punctuation and language – which brings us to the next piece of the beautiful puzzle that is brand messaging.

Wait, brands should have their own LANGUAGES?


Where tone is the way you say things, your brand’s language is the words you use to say them. If your brand tone is intellectual, you may lean towards more formal greetings, and avoid using trendy phrases or abbreviated slang. A caption might start with, “Welcome, I’m so grateful to have some new folks in this community” instead of Stoked to see so many new faces here. What’s up pals!?”

Honing in on a solid brand language begins with having a word bank that aligns with your brand tone (yes, we make those). As an exercise, write out 10 different TONES that align with your brand voice. For each tone, jot down a few words that align. Try mixing those into your captions more frequently for content that stands out clearly amidst the sea of social media same.

Okay, but what am I actually supposed to SAY though?

Lol, I know.

Here’s where the Message comes in. Tone is how you say it, language is the words you use to say it, and Message is what you’re trying to say, in the first place.

Throughout the landscape of your brand’s life, you’ll have many messages. Every offering/launch/product/platform warrants its own messaging strategy. But, as a rule, having 3-4 core brand messages is an incredible foundation to start with. We call these key messages, within our offerings.

Key messages exist to guide your voice with purpose – anchoring drivers, values, and stories that make up the basis of your brand’s identity and fuel what you share with the world. There are a million and one ways to say the same thing, but having a brand with a strong + consistent presence hinges on creatively understanding how to emphasize your key messages in new, inspired ways, with every caption.

Book a free intro call with us if you’re curious about how we can support you in developing and implementing a strong communications strategy for your social media presence.


We crafted this beauty on our first Friday back in Canada for the summer. We’re calling her The Canadian Hunny, subtly sweetened with Maple Syrup and topped with Dillon’s Rhubarb Bitters.


  • 1.5 oz gin
  • 1.5 oz fresh lemon
  • 0.5 oz Canadian maple syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • 3 dashes of bitters


  • Dry shake booze, syrup, lemon, and egg white for 30 seconds
  • Add ice and shake until cold
  • Strain into your cute little cocktail glass
  • Top with bitters + lemon rind twist for garnish

To watch the cocktail-making in action, check out this video.

Explore our other food and drink recipes here.


The Appleyards

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About The Appleyards

We Are Passionate Community Cultivators, Partners in Life and Business, And Firm Believers That Work Should Feel Like Play.

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