Here at Content Rules, the word Content is repeated so frequently it seems to lose its significance. Today I’d like to take a step back and answer a simple question –

What is content?

Before we can efficiently create, manage, reuse, and optimize our content, we need to get an idea of what exactly we’re working with. I turned to some of our in-house content experts for answers to this seemingly simple question.

Our President Tim Steele responded,

In the business world, “content” includes all the text, graphs, photos, illustrations, videos, and animations used to describe a company, their products, or their services.

This is certainly the easiest definition to wrap our heads around. All of the materials created for and within a business qualify in this definition of content. Many would be satisfied with this answer, but let’s take it a step further.

Regina Preciado, one of our Senior Content Strategists, adds:

Content is connection.


Content includes any form of communication that your organization produces in order to engage, inform, or support people. We use the word “content” to any text, images, audio, and video that must be created, managed, and delivered.

In Regina’s definition, content becomes active. Content is not just materials, it’s also a way of forming relationships – with customers, with other organizations, or even within your own.

And finally, I asked our CEO Val Swisher for her thoughts:

I would define content as:


Something that stimulates one of the senses.


That is, something we can see, hear, touch, taste, or smell.


Things that we see, such as words, pictures, video, and things that we hear, such as voices, music, and even dogs barking, are all examples of content.


But even things that we touch, taste, or smell can be considered content. These things serve as stimuli or input to the brain. And then, once stimulated, the brain has to process and make sense of the content.


Does this mean that a thought is content? Something that is not tangible in the least? Something that is private, personal, only known to the individual? Perhaps. To open the world of content, I think we need to consider how the neural networks in our brains take in and make sense of data.


For a computer, the inputs are digital. Everything is eventually broken down into a digital signals. For the brain, the inputs are all through our senses, or internally created. Is imagination content? I suppose if we take my definition, it is.

This definition of content takes us to another level. Content is, in essence, any given input to a cognitive process – be it human, or digital.

If we take a moment to think about the role of “content” in our daily lives given this definition, we find it to be truly inescapable. Content informs us, guides us, lies to us, and gives us purpose. It allows us to inform and be informed, to share and be shared with.

From my perspective, content is humanity. Our ability to process the world around us effectively is what has allowed us to dominate the earth. Effective communication, essentially content, can make the difference between love and hate, life and death, war and peace.


Max Swisher