Controlling brand identity as it relates to advertising and marketing activities – while time-consuming and at times frustrating – is at least achievable. You’re largely dealing with designers and media people who speak the language of RGB values and DPI and can set the company logo so it’s not stretched.
But the game changes when the player with the ball is your average enterprise employee, preparing their next sales presentation in PowerPoint. Brand identity is not so easy to control when you’re talking about thousands of users who probably don’t know anything about pixels or Pantones.
PowerPoint doesn’t have to be the enemy though, and you can help your colleagues and yourself stay on-brand with less hassle. If you don’t have a great process (yet) for PowerPoint in your organization, these five tips will help you get started.
1. Have a clear vision for the brand
Make sure that PowerPoint is part of your brand strategy and is included in the company’s visual guidelines. PowerPoint is probably one of the most used applications company-wide, so the better you can communicate how things should be done and why, the better your chances are that employees will follow.
2. Get rid of the blur
PowerPoint is a great program, but it was not built with enterprise compliance in mind. The opposite is true in fact. PowerPoint comes with a vast load of color themes and templates that are meant to help the user customize and experiment with design. From a compliance perspective, this is obviously the first thing you want to avoid.
The good news: Color themes and templates are just simple files that can be removed or put into a backup folder. Meaning off-brand options can instantly be removed from PowerPoint. You can even replace the off-brand stuff with brand compliant assets instead if your colleagues have multiple visual options.
3. Don’t make anyone think
Perhaps the biggest reason why employees don’t use correct company templates to build new presentations is that up-to-date templates don’t open automatically with PowerPoint – a default PowerPoint file that has nothing to do with your brand opens instead.
That’s an easy fix. All you need to do is save the correct corporate template under the name “Blank.potx” at this location: %appdata%\microsoft\templates
PowerPoint will automatically open with that file once you’ve done this. There are multiple ways to get this done on everyone’s desktops, but you’ll want to consult with your IT department for that.
4. Make everyone’s life easy
Your average colleague is probably not a PowerPoint wizard, so make sure that your PowerPoint template is built well and is intuitive to use. There are lots of really good guides to building PowerPoint templates. Here’s one of my favorites:
Pay special attention to applying good drawing guides since alignment is a key element in visual compliance. Make sure to add as much user guidance as possible directly in the template. Using the gray off-slide space to post guidance and thumbnails that show examples of the end result from a template layout is a good idea. Text or objects that are located in the off-slide area will not show on print or when the presentation is set to presentation mode.
5. Make everybody look great
One of the simplest and fastest ways to build compliant presentations is to set best practice guidelines and templates. Colleagues won’t mind using these as long as the content and slides meet their requirements and are easy to find. Analyze which types of slides and content the organization requires and make sure to build one or more of these kinds of presentations with content people can just copy and paste from.
If you have multiple verticals in your business, you could build slide collections for each one. But make sure that all slide collections are compliant with the company template so they will work well when your colleagues copy slides.
Most people want to play by the brand rules, they just don't have the time or the skills to do so. By automating visual compliance as much as possible, you can help your employees be brand champions, ensure that you stay on-brand, and make PowerPoint much less stressful.