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Does Your Content Look Like, Um, Content?

BY: David Matt

Ok, fellow marketers.

We wake up each day, push out tons of stuff, persuading people do things through our carefully crafted content, broadcast across all possible channels and platforms. “We’re amazing!,” we tell ourselves.

And often we are, so take that well-deserved bow.

But too often, well-intentioned content gets launched without enough consideration of how audiences will actually perceive our work. We get caught up in budgets, deadlines, internal processes and day-to-day realities that take energy away from really thinking about how consumers will experience our content when seeing it for the first time.

Sometimes we’re so caught up in our own environment and protocols we forget the work is actually for them, not about us. (Is your team so brand-focused that every single piece of content is expressed in your corporate colors? Is the most effective story-telling told using only maroon and gray?)

Here are a few difficult (but helpful) questions to ask yourself:

Does my content look like content? Does it look market-appropriate? Does it look valuable? Is it actually interesting? Does it look cheap? Does it look like everything else? Does it look like something other than what it’s intended to be?

Given this, we offer to you a handy check list to help you self-evaluate, aiming to help you split the arrow and have your content be seen as actual content.

(By the way, if you’d like to speak about this or need a helping hand, click here. Happy to say hello!)

You’re Not Making Effective Content If…

You’re using icons as large or medium-sized supporting art

Curated photos and illustrations tell stories. Icons are punctuation.

Your enormous .gif doesn’t load quickly

It’s the internet. People are impatient and have billions of other choices.

Your content is filled with flat vector illustrations, swiped from the internet

We’re not going to tell on you, but neither is a good look. Custom illustration is affordable and will work hard for your brand.

Your stock photography literally looks like stock photography

We know you care what the words are saying, how about what the images are saying? 

You are running images of puzzle pieces, hand-shaking or briefcases

Tropes hurt you and deliver a guaranteed pass by your target audience.

You use jargon

As we reach for the new normal in these unprecedented times, we need to pivot to the future, lean into problems, find new paradigms and watch our audience run screaming.

Apple’s Terms and Conditions page is easier to read than your article

Fonts, legibility and UX are critical if you’re want your content to be actually consumed.

Your video is too long and/or the music sounds royalty-free

If a YouTube video starts to bore or annoy you, how long do you let it play? (You close it immediately? So does your audience.) (Is your annoyance worse on your phone?)

Your content is covered up by a pile of pop-ups

Nothing wrong with selling, but sheesh!

People don’t actually respond to it

People respond to our stuff. We make high-performing content and just won CMA’s Agency of the Year. We’d love to help or just say hello.


David Matt, who has strongly held convictions about branded content, design and imagery (and everything else, actually) is Foundry 360’s award-winning and business-growing VP of Creative, Content & Strategy. Take him up on his offer to talk branded content over coffee. Reach out to David directly here

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