Finding X: Content Ideation Goes Beyond Specific Formula

Finding X: Content Ideation Goes is Not a Formula

Language itself is a series of expressions. Content is your brand’s information mouthpiece. It is, in itself, a series of brand expressions.  That makes content the language of brands.

The creative process in content ideation goes back to language’s roots. This is why the specific formula will suffice. There is no fixed path for our language goals. We apply verbiage to everything we do or think in a fluid tandem that defies pre-programming.

It is this simple comparison that saves us time in content ideation. We must approach content ideation like we do language studies. The “X” factor in all our creative arcs should flow from the fluid communication of our brand’s dialect.

Take this a step further. Borrow rules from foreign language study when developing content ideation skills. This empowers the content creator to communicate with liquid efficiency. Vast industry ranges and walks of life are attainable with this mentality.

Begin with an idea core

Content ideation shares many similarities with foreign language learning. Both share the essential purpose of enhancing expressive communication. This logic helped us develop content ideation techniques from language fluency techniques.

Language teachers suggest developing a core of expressions for your foreign language.

With content ideation, you develop a core of basic topics that will resonate with anyone in your audience. Then, you will begin to build on that core. With a foreign language, you would branch out to building some personally useful phrases. With content ideation, you would create content that those within your brand found personally useful and worth sharing.

Again, with a foreign language, you begin to form a vocabulary of keywords and phrases that stretches beyond the realm of personal and basic use. This external knowledge of the language is for the sake of knowing a better way to express one’s self in abstract situations. Content ideation is a similar exercise. It doesn’t pay to develop a single formula and stick to only that. It would essentially be the same as only using textbook phrases in your foreign language and stopping there. You will have to go much further than that, to the outside walls of your language core diagram concept.

Mine from abstracts

If we continue to compare content ideation to language learning, we will have to borrow some tricks from language learners for our content ideation.

A favorite trick language learners use to fast-track learning is “sentence mining.” Sentence mining is the process of extracting words and phrases from sentences. These phrases become an X-factor to the language learner. They frame their understanding of the whole language as it relates to the sentence topic.

Sentence mining as the base for “content mining”

Sentence mining as a concept works for content ideation in a profound way. Replace the concept of using sentences foreign vocabulary words with using sentences to form concepts or topics. With this concept swap, you are solidifying in your mind that content ideation is an expression, just like language is.

Secure several steady resources of sentences that frame a specific topic of interest. Copy that sentence into a document as a quote. Highlight the topic in bold letters. You will come back to this sentence and the nuance of topic building it provides for you. From this sentence, you will be able to express a “vocabulary” of ideas. These “vocabulary” topics are ready to combine with other “vocabulary” topics to create whole new topic ranges previously unconsidered. You now have a fluent base to communicate to your audience from. You are thinking of content as the cultural language of your brand.  A digital dialect that your patrons will share from person to person.

Good work. Build this even further.

Finding the X in topics

In the advanced stages of learning a foreign language, the student begins to relate everything back to their foreign language. “How do I express my love for this movie?” “What would I say if I wanted to sell this product in Portuguese?”

For content ideation, every bit of news you see surrounding your industry becomes a subject. What part of it relates to your audience? How do you frame this event in the language they speak?

For example, say you work in tech. Specifically, your company is a telecom service provider. The iPhone X has recently been released. This is a big move for Apple and iPhone users. It’s also a lucrative event for your company. You think it would make a good core for your content topics next month. You just don’t know how to express it uniquely and to your complex audience yet.

This is an event that happened to the tech industry as a whole. Therefore, it affects your audience as a whole. The impact is universal enough that it could expand your audience if you leverage the information resources.  However, your audience speaks different “dialects” of tech. A telecommunications firm approaches tech differently than a software company. How can you relate the iPhone X tech world event in the language of software companies?

You take iPhone X as a topic, and you mine from another buzz in software. What other topics are trending in computer programming? Mine for these relevant topics. See how often they relate back to the iPhone X. This relevant common ground that came from the first topic is your X factor.

Practice makes perfect

This method will take practice. Learning a foreign language requires constant practice. You never stop learning. It’s the same with the creative process of content ideation. You have to keep adding to your growing dialect of presentable topics. You have to keep finding the relevant X.

Don’t get discouraged

The fact of the matter is, even this method is not the only method useful for content ideation. There are no training wheels or brakes for content ideation. It is itself as fluid as the human mind. Capable of generating great works of art.  Content ideation contributes as much vision as it does practicality when branding content.

Always keep asking questions

Always keep asking more open-ended questions. This is the most important piece of advice we’ve given you in this entire post. Should you ever stop asking questions, your “content dialect”, learning will stop. You will stop wondering about a way to express a certain. Then you will stop finding new ways to express familiar topics.

The secret to ideas is asking questions. Questions are the spark of creative life in every one of us.

We all have similar wants

Fall back on a basic rule of thumb. While we all speak many different “content dialects,” we still all have similar wants in life. We all want to know if the product we’re investing in is worth our time. And we all want to feel safe and secure in our investments. We all hope to someday be full and happy.

Look for X but don’t stop until you’ve got Y and Z in your hand. You aren’t only looking for an idea. You’re looking for an expression. This requires emotion. A color. A human thought.

It isn’t coming up with great ideas and slapping them on a post roster. It isn’t seeing how many different ways you can talk about iPhone X and make it relevant to your brand. It’s about appealing to the common want that trending topics reflect. Again, X doesn’t have to be only one thing. There’s a Y and Z in there too. You have to know what the want is. The idea streams from meeting that want.


Sometimes you say it best when you only let yourself explore the topic. Want to find X? Go look for nothing in particular. Start exploring your industry. Are you a fashion consultant? Browse amateur fashion blogs. Are you a tech startup? Go hang out in the forums on Android Authority. Smell the flowers. Chase the butterflies. The X is there in the little nuances of what makes up your field. Something a consumer says. A photograph snapped by an ambitious young professional.

Never stop venturing. The further you follow your industry, the more paths of expression you will have. It’s like living in a foreign country. The longer you communicate in their language, the more unique phrases start to come to you. Expressing yourself often and fluidly will stream your audience straight to you.

Rachel Brooks


Editor’s note: This post is by nDash community member Rachel Brooks  Rachel writes various business articles and website copy on topics such as technology, computer software, marketing, advertising, and more. To learn more about Rachel or to have her write for your brand, sign up for nDash today!