Advertising is about saying, content is about doing

Laura Semple, Chief Strategy Officer at Conill

by India Fizer , AdForum

Marketing/Creative Services
El Segundo, United States
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Laura Semple
Chief Strategy Officer Conill

The more you know your audience, the more authentic your content will be. Laura Semple, Chief Strategy Officer at Conill, explains the value in exploring subcultures to get to know your audience, and understanding the context behind the intention to better align platform and experience.


Content is the bridge between you and your audience. How do you anticipate and then integrate the right topics for your audience while maintaining a consistent brand voice?

Content development is led by the brand identity. If one understands what the brand is all about, the content aligns nicely with the brand’s beliefs and purpose. In today’s world we must think of brands as content platforms. That is the way people and especially younger generations connect with brands. The first question brands need to ask themselves when producing or choosing content is ‘as a brand, do I have the editorial authority to speak about this? How does this align with my brand purpose?’

An exercise worth doing when exploring areas better suited for a brand from a content perspective, think about the subcultures your brand attracts (Subaru and pet lovers, Patagonia and sustainability warriors), what are those sub-cultures into and what is it about the brand that they find interesting or appealing.

Also, look into the causes that your brand supports because they will give you cues as to where the focus already is and lastly, think of the brands that you have chosen to partner with. All of these elements have shaped your brand identity in the eyes of people. By diving into these three aspects - subcultures, causes and brands and how they ladder up to your brand purpose will help you identify where you have chosen to invest as a brand. Your content should be an amplification of existing areas of interest that you have already invested in. Or this may be a time to evaluate that investment and determine based on your brand purpose if this is the direction you want your brand to focus on.

It’s critical to tie all of these content efforts to your main purpose so you have a clear understanding of the role that each content piece plays in delivering your brand area of passion (ex:  Red Bull and extreme sports content, xxxx).


What role does branding play in content marketing?

Of course, branding has a place in advertising yet branding should be treated differently in content. The content must focus on the values of the brand in action. Advertising is about saying, content is about doing. TikTok for example is a platform where people get to know brands through influencers.


Not everything can be advertised the same way, which can require a different approach across clients. How does content affect the way something is marketed and how do you pivot to treat this?

Brands are like people. The more you know yourself, the more authentic your experiences will be. Brands are different, have different personalities, identities and therefore should act accordingly. Just as people find inspiration in other people, brands can do the same. However, there comes a point where brands must choose what aligns with their values and speak their truth (e.g., Toyota and kaizen, TMO and Uncarrier - two completely different personalities, one who lives by constantly improving and the other by challenging the category rules that don’t serve people).


Without giving away your secrets, what are some things that are integral to your internal checklist when creating content?

Content should bring the brand identity to life. Content should deliver a point of view. Content should align with the values the brand lives by.


How do you strategize for the way audiences will want to interact with content in virtual realities, Web 3.0, and the metaverse? To what extent do you involve influencers and consumers in creating the brand narrative?

An understanding of context is at the core. Strategically brands must uncover the reasons why people spend time in virtual environments and the role the category and brand can play in those alternative spaces. Making a point of adding value to the experience people are seeking and to stretch the imagination of how the brand can deliver value in alternative realities where the rules may not be the same (ex: lines blurring between gaming and music in virtual spaces, Alo providing a yoga/meditation studio, Wendy’s sharing their menu so people can feed their hunger).