By Marilyn Heywood Paige
In December, I bought a condo and relocated. In my former digs, I set up my home office for Zoom meetings. My desk faced a window that provided just the right lighting for video chatting. Behind me, I appointed the background with neat, colorful wall decor that communicated both creativity and order.
That was then. Now, I’m digging out from boxes, painting, (and repainting) changing light fixtures, and trying to create a comfortable space. I don’t have all my furniture set up, so from the camera’s view, my home office looks barren.
What's Behind You Is Sending A Message
I’m aware that what’s behind me on camera is sending a message to the people I’m meeting with. What’s that old saying, “If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what’s an empty desk a sign of?” What message is my empty room sending? Hopefully, it’s better than some home office messages. This poor woman was in an interview on CNN and had an unfortunate personal item on a shelf behind her. (Warning: link is not entirely safe for work environments.) Bet she now wishes she had been in an empty room.
Room Fails as Opposed to Zoom Fails
Yes, there have been plenty of stories about Zoom meeting fails where participants make embarrassing blunders while the cameras are on and their co-workers are watching. This isn’t about what you should and should do on camera. It’s about how your home office is now a part of your company brand. We have passed the point where virtual meetings are new experiences. You’ve got to up your game and take your company brand into consideration when presenting your home on camera.
What does this home office communicate? It might make viewers uncomfortable. Unless your brand relates to cluttered, claustrophobic spaces, this will create a brand disconnect.
You are Your Company Brand
With widespread working from home, company brands have migrated to the homes of employees. Even though your customers know you are working from home, their subconscious is still picking up visual cues that influence their judgements and perceptions of your brand. So, be aware of what’s on camera, besides yourself, and understand that it is communicating your company’s brand to the viewer.
Looking for Brand Disconnects
Before you go live in a video meeting, go into an empty virtual meeting room and look at yourself on camera. Examine the lens angle, lighting, background, and foreground. Next, think through the hallmarks of your company brand and what your customer’s perceptions of the brand might be. Then ask yourself, does what I’m seeing on camera align with those brand perceptions or create a disconnect?
For example, if you’re in a conservative financial services company, the baseball pennants hanging behind you may spark some conversations, but probably aren’t aligned with the company brand. The camera communicates everything--and you want what it says to be 100% on target. The pennants aren’t reinforcing your company brand. They’re distracting from it.
People's Attention Is too Valuable to Squander
If you have someone’s attention for five seconds or 15 minutes, make the most of it. Communicate succinctly and compellingly. And that includes managing what your surroundings are saying. Put your brand colors behind you. Use photos and book titles that communicate your brand values. Create congruence between your brand and your background.
Why Should You Care About Brand?
Your company brand distinguishes you from competitors. It’s what makes people pay $5 for a cup of coffee instead of $1. Brand experience, brand associations, brand trust—these factors drive value for the consumer and increase revenue for a company. Brand is important. And brand is always being communicated, so be deliberate in how you are presenting yours. My empty office is going to get a fresh coat of paint, furniture, and wall decor. I will think through the Paige Black brand as I proceed because it will communicate silently in the background of every virtual meeting. I want it to make the right brand associations. Our clients deserve that kind of attention to their experience when they meet with me. Yours do too. Need help cultivating the right brand? Contact Us.
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