Bring the Background Forward

The average consumer is exposed to 20,000 TV commercials and close to 2 million brand messages across all channels each year.

With this in mind, you have to agree optimizing your “brand real estate” is critical for brand success. Yet I’m surprised to find some pockets of real estate that simply aren’t given enough attention. One area that’s continually overlooked is branded wallpaper for the computer desktop.

How come cool branded wallpapers are almost nonexistent? Let me say right away I’m not talking about white backgrounds with a logo thrown in the middle. I’m thinking about wallpapers that reflect user personalities and, at the same time, reflect the brand.

One of my favorite branding stories is Silk Cut. Silk Cut is a cigarette that, in response to changes in laws affecting British cigarette advertising, ceased using its logo or any copy at all in outdoor and print ads. Ingeniously, the brand communicated itself through image alone: a luxuriously rumpled glimpse of silk, in the brand’s trademark purple, with a gaping slash through it. The image said, literally, “silk + cut.” The Silk Cut campaign was wordlessly articulate and negotiated the newly introduced, mid-’80s bans on cigarette advertising with such elegance, the brand’s image and message remained intact without the slightest reference to the product.

You don’t need too much creativity to imagine how a range of beautiful, silk-filled wallpaper could work for Silk Cut. Instead of advertising, a branding tool stands as a work of art. Any brand communication that achieves this level of sophistication is a brand-building victory. Such a campaign could integrate its message across channels, even conquering those channels in which advertising is restricted, as is the case with tobacco and other products.

How would you handle a similar challenge? When the freedom to communicate you’d been accustomed to was curtailed? How would you reinvent your brand-building to create a strategy as sophisticated as Silk Cut’s? Wordless wallpaper is a good vehicle for applying disciplined thinking. Wallpaper is an overlooked opportunity for brand communication. It provides a context for creative brand-building that may exclude your logo while building your brand as unambiguously as if the logo were there.

Imagine your customers displaying your brand philosophy on their desktops every day. Running your wallpaper as a screensaver. Your brand’s icons — not Microsoft’s.

It’s a creative and strategic challenge. But if you achieve brand communication through the succinct and unobtrusive yet ubiquitous wallpaper environment, your brand will have reached a new eloquence. Your brand message, as part of the environment, presents a raft of new, unexplored brand opportunities.

Related reading