Off Brand

When a Pandemic Becomes a Company’s Ultimate Branding Opportunity

Zoom, GoNoodle and Domino’s are treading carefully as the coronavirus hands them a rush of captive, willing new customers

Rob Walker
Published in
5 min readMar 26, 2020


Illustration: Fran Caballero

A month ago, Zoom was a hot startup offering its videoconferencing tool to a solid and growing base of corporate clients.

Today, Zoom is pretty much a household name — as in quite literally almost every household in America. The product is being used by companies trying to unite suddenly dispersed working-from-home labor forces and has been “dramatically repurposed” by customers it never sought: as a platform for “quarantini” group drinking sessions, preschool classes, board game nights, birthday parties, coffee klatches, group meditation sessions, dating, and pretty much all variety of social gatherings — including branded events like “Chipotle Together” Zoom meetups. The New York Times Style section, ever obsessed with what it suspects the youngs are up to, flatly declared, “We Live in Zoom Now.”

Zoom is experiencing a truly singular branding event — which happens to be a pandemic.

That’s the great news for Zoom. The less great news is that this didn’t happen…