A call to lose or improve your accidental content

When we’re faced with so much content everyday, successful marketers produce less. They craft each piece, making it stand out with clever, clear, creative thinking.

But even though we know that, many of us are missing opportunities to create great content.

What am I talking about? The problem is this: we get into the habit of ordering the same marketing items again and again without really thinking about it – often because it’s what key stakeholders have requested.

Next time, before getting the credit card out, take a step back and consider two questions:

  • What will buying this item achieve?
  • If it will achieve something valuable, how can you ensure that it represents your brand?

Let’s look at some examples of ‘accidental content’ – and how to make the most of them.

I’m not convinced branded pens or pencils have ever proven valuable – but how about if you were to do more than adding your logo to a plain pencil? What words will give people a sense of what it’s like to buy into your brand? The Office Group, for instance, decorates pencils with playful phrases to encourage people to take them and spread the word about their offering.

Branded notebooks are a similar example. Before ordering them to put on seats at an event, think about if a nice pad of paper represents anything about your brand. If you’re a tech firm, for instance, surely providing a notebook is outdated when you could be encouraging people to make digital notes.

If you are going to provide a notebook, what words or images could you use to bring your brand to life? For a consultancy, you might add an exercise to each page to get people thinking strategically and creatively about new products and services – a little like the ‘642 things to write about’ books.


Now we have LinkedIn profiles and websites, do you need a business card? Really? OK, if you do, how can you ensure it exemplifies your brand? I’m not talking about an American Psycho-style perfect font and precisely chosen shade of white. Chilli seed packets show the contact details for Mexican restaurant, Wahaca. One of the design companies I work with are obsessed with demonstrating their creative culture. Rather than business cards, they snap a Polaroid picture on the way to meetings. On the back they scribble down an idea, their telephone number and email address.

Where do I start with websites? Nearly all businesses have one, but very few realise how difficult it is to do it well. The first step many businesses take is to look at what their competitors are doing, but this will cloud your view. Don’t start by listing what you sell either. Instead, think about what you want people to do as a result of reading your website and how you will create that action. Think about the emotional and rational responses you need to build in and the journey you’ll take them on through the site.

Every company produces different marketing items. These are just a handful of moments where it would be valuable to pause and consider if there’s an opportunity to develop them into standout content. The result: you improve the brand experience and increase the chances of commercial success. As a side effect, you prove your creativity and marketing smarts.

If you have any examples of companies who’ve pulled the brand experience through their marketing, I’d love to hear from you and update this blog – julia@lightningbug.co.uk.

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