June 4, 2020
The world is working from home and people are joking online about starting a drink before finishing work. Tempting though it may be, it could be a missed opportunity. Instead, maybe take some time to focus on branding before even thinking about brandy.
It is well known that branding is more than just a logo, indeed more than corporate design. But if you consider the logo the first instrument of branding and the corporate design the first area, you are certainly not wrong.
Branding is important for companies and, of course, large sums of money are spent on it. Due to the current situation, however, many of the pathways offered to companies to showcase their brands are no longer available: there are no trade fairs where a sophisticated stand in full corporate design can attract visitors. No one walks past the walls of the agency painted in corporate colours. The otherwise polo-wearing tech-salesman is rocking sweatpants at home instead of pointing customers to the latest products. The liveried company car is parked in the garage and only the most cunning employees smuggled their coffee cup with company logo before the lockdown.
But there is hope: Even Homeoffice-Harold, dressed in a dapper suit shirt on top and bare underwear on bottom, is able to conclude contracts, justify price increases and present the monthly reports - all via video conference. And anyone who has been using Zoom, Microsoft Teams or similar services recently can share in amazement when that cunning employee in the Monday Morning Meeting enjoys their morning brew from a branded coffee mug in front of a beach scene – or even in the stratosphere.
While we may not have brought home our mugs, we can still explore branding possibilities through video conferencing. How about using the background feature that was previously used for giggles as an instrument for branding? There are a few things to consider, but it’s all pretty straightforward:
- Physical Background
For a virtual background, green screens are ideal but not necessary. Blue works just fine. On the other hand, because white, red or black backgrounds result in parts of the person blending in due to similar colouring (the brightly lit forehead, red lips, or even a dark beard), these should not be the first choice. Some programs can also recognise and handle irregular backgrounds - but sufficient processor power (Intel i7 is recommended) is a prerequisite.
- Virtual background
With a virtual background you can let your imagination run free. The simplest possibility is a picture with your company’s logo. Most agencies and companies have such images available already but there can be a problem: often logos, mission statements or graphics are centered on the screen and (if they do not reach a certain critical size) are thus hidden by the speaker. This is pointless and comes across as unprofessional, which is why it’s definitely worth having the graphic designer (or someone familiar with image editing) move everything from the centre to the sides. Alternatively, it can also be visually pleasing if graphics are placed a bit further to the edge of the screen and the speaker is placed in the golden ratio (taking a 2/3 position in the picture).
Clothing adapted to the situation goes without saying. In addition, your clothing colours should be different from the background colour to avoid floating head syndrome. Branded t-shirt on? Great, but be careful, because the colours of the branding can be similar to the colours of the background. Finally, do not forget clothing colour should be visually pleasing against the colour of the virtual background. Darker, more restrained colours are recommended.
Without enough light, even the most professional green screen will swallow the carefully picked home office outfit. But there are other aspects to consider besides brightness: with a single light source, dark shadows might be visible. It is therefore better to have two. While you should try to choose a bright light without a strong colour cast, it is perhaps more important that the two lamps have the same colour temperature bulbs, but if you’re experimenting you can get creative with colours and adjust the lights to the virtual background, (for example, a blue lamp on the left and a red lamp on the right in front of a virtual colour gradient in similar tones).
A small but important detail: if you keep in touch with customers frequently or hold keynotes and webinars, refrain from using your phone headset or laptop microphone wherever possible and invest instead in a microphone. Many people naturally accept poor picture quality in video calls, whereas poor sound quality is more likely to be perceived as annoying and unprofessional.
If you are neither familiar with image processing nor have a graphic designer on hand, some video conference services and computers allow you to put a virtual blur into the background with just a click. This is useful because, while your team may be accepting of your poorly sorted pantry or particularly well-stocked liquor cabinet, during video conferences with customers it’s is best to make these things disappear into a professional blur or the company design. After all, we should all be choosing branding before brandy!