Above: This backdrop for Zoom calls is designed to look like the bedroom of Blanche from "Golden Girls."
The following was previously published in an earlier edition of Media Insider.
Thanks to ongoing social distancing measures, video calls are a new but fixed feature of our daily lives -- both personal and professional. Whether for business meetings, exercise classes or birthday parties, video conferencing platform Zoom has garnered an almost cult-like status in recent weeks across generations.
One of Zoom’s key features that has given way to a surprising (but very welcome) trend is its unique virtual background options. Whether hiding a messy room or just looking to inject some personality into a call, this feature allows users to add images of pretty much anything behind them. What started with picturesque landscapes, iconic landmarks, film sets, family photos and even memes has transformed into a new frontier of self-expression and creativity.
Now, marketers are recognizing the potential to leverage this new trend to turn customers into brand ambassadors, as well as fostering better remote communication and collaboration among employees. Here are a few creative ways to do so.
Meet your customers where they already are. Simply tapping into moments where people will already be using video conferencing tools enables brands to meet their customer in their own home. Consider all the occasions that were once out-of-home’ experiences that are now happening online. There are new opportunities, at enormous scale, that simply haven’t existed before now.
Popular dating app Hinge, realizing that people were moving their dates online, created a range of romantic locations as Zoom backdrops, allowing the brand to place itself front and center of an organic occasion.
Smart marketers should consider, how can we join the current conversation in an engaging and meaningful way?
Tap into the demand for self-expression. Brands that can leverage and artfully tap into consumers’ desire for creative personalization can quickly become cultural heroes in these strange times.
West Elm, for example, jumped on this trend early and won big by offering free backgrounds created from aspirational images pulled from the company’s lookbook and blog. Suddenly thousands of people around the world have become ambassadors for the brand’s clean and modern aesthetic.
Similarly, online interior design app Modsy created a range of backgrounds inspired by the rooms on popular TV series like “Seinfeld.”
If you love your logo, incorporate it into your faux office. Whimsical pop-culture-inspired Zoom backgrounds can be fun among friends and teammates, but when it’s a business prospect or another more mission-critical meeting, a more straightforward backdrop is often more appropriate. But that doesn’t mean it has to be off-brand or boring.
Now is the perfect time to hammer home your visual brand while also hiding any laundry, family members or wandering pets behind you. There are many online programs and platforms that enable you to quickly and easily create a custom backdrop created specifically to spotlight your logo and brand colors. This is a tool that is easily shared throughout an organization.
Even when the current pandemic ends and most of the world returns to the office, it’s unlikely our global Zoom addiction will be over. Given the opportunity to reach both consumers and other key stakeholders with this new brand touchpoint, investing in a Zoom background seems a no-brainer for savvy marketers today.