What’s in a brand’s identity? The theme song you hum when you hear its name? The cheap pens it gives away at conventions?
Most of you would agree that a brand’s identity is the sum of its parts. That it builds on everything from the colour of the product to the clothes of its employees.
Well, I’m here to share a different idea about branding. I’d argue that your brand’s identity is measured by your worst PowerPoint.
That might sound a little extreme, but I swear I’m coming from a good place. See, I’ve been designing presentations for a bit over ten years. In that time I’ve seen multi-million dollar brands build two-cent slide-shows. Each time I see it happen, it feels more painful than the last time.
So why do these powerhouse brands not give a damn about their PowerPoints? Why do they waste the potential to expand their brand’s identity? Well, a lot of it comes down to attitude. Countless companies see PowerPoint slides the same way they see printer paper: Nothing more than a tool to slap text on.
If you asked these organisations why their slides don’t do their brand justice, a lot would say “They’re only slides.” So? The golden arches are only shapes. “Just Do It” is only a tagline. Smart organisations see everything as an opportunity to expand their brand image.
If anything, presentations should be the top priority of branding. After all, one B2B presentation can build billion dollar bridges between brands. Why waste that opportunity to build branding where it counts?
At the end of the day, a brand’s light should shine on all the ground it touches. For that reason, your organisation should brand every presentation it puts out. After all, it’s a lot easier than branding a pen at a convention. In the end, it will probably prove more important too.
The Easy Way to Brand Presentations
So how can your organisation brand the hundreds of presentations it puts out? It’s easy: provide employees with one branded template. Not only does that give your brand a united image, it saves your employees the stress of studying presentation design.
Most of you are probably thinking “No shit” right now, but you’d be surprised. I’ve seen Fortune 500’s fail to enforce branding on some of their biggest presentations.
At the same time, you shouldn’t just slap a logo on each slide and call it a day. Think of branding like water. It should fit whatever medium it’s applied to. To ensure smooth branding on your slide templates, consider these tips:
Use branded colours
This may seem obvious, but you’d be amazed. You could be managing the Blue Division of Blue Inc., and still, you’d see employees use red slides. That’s if they even consider colour schemes. Most brandless presentations I’ve seen have come in one colour scheme: white.
The key to creating an attractive colour scheme is ensuring readability. This is even more important than accurately emulating your brand colours. After all, your brand colours might not be the most readable.
Consider Coca-Cola. Their brand colours are primarily red with a splash of white. Now imagine sitting through a PowerPoint of red slides with white text. Go on, I’ll let you wash the blood out of your eyes.
Coca-Cola recognises that white on red is almost unreadable. That’s why most of their presentations are strong white with splashes of red.
That brings us to your colour scheme. For most of your slides, keep a dark coloured copy on a lighter background. Of course, occasionally doing the opposite can bring attention to important information.
Invest in brand-centric imagery
I’ve seen a million brands use pointless pictures in their presentations. You know the kind. Smiling executives, kids playing in parks. Lifeless stock photos that have little to do with the brand.
It always upsets me to see brands use stock images in their slideshows. After all, images are possibly the best way to boost your brand’s identity: they’re a universal language; a chance to take your brand to new places!
To start picking better pictures for your presentations, think of the things associated with your brand. As an example, imagine a brand like Bunnings. You might associate them with construction, carpentry, or um…snags. Now, just find images that you associate with those things. Bonus points if they have your brand colours.
While you might see some good images on a stock image site, it’s better to snap them yourself. That way you can include shots that show your products and services.
Watch your tone
Every brand has a voice. Apple sounds hip. VB sounds blokey. Unfortunately, most people that write PowerPoints seem to only speak “slide-ese”. They could be making the most exciting product on Earth, but they’ll hide it in the same business babble that sends you to sleep. Why? Is there an unwritten rule which says every slide has to sound the same?
I think a lot of this stems from some silly ideas about subject matter. We assume that an important presentation can’t contain a personality. This is ridiculous! We buy into brands as much with our emotions as with our logic.
Consider this a license to let your audience fall in love with your brand. To show your unique personality, or make your presentation the personification of your brand’s identity. You might think that sounds silly. What sounds sillier to me is presenting like everyone else when you’re supposed to stand out.
This is one of the easiest ways to bring branding to your presentation. After all, it’s not limiting the information you can put into your PowerPoint. It’s only changing the way you present it.
I’m sure your organisation already has a guide to typography. If it doesn’t, here are a few old typography tricks to bring your brand out:
- Sharp, serif fonts show your brand is professional. Think of the kind used by lawyers and other legacy organisations.
- Sleek, non-serif fonts show your brand is on the cutting edge. Imagine the sleek fonts you see in the annual Apple presentations.
- Hand-written fonts help your brand look artsy. Imagine Kikki.K or other “hand-made” brands.
Whatever you do, keep your fonts consistent. At the same time, don’t use the same font for headings that you use on slides. This will only make your presentation more muddled.
As you can see, it’s easy to boost your brand’s identity through PowerPoint. Not only is it easy, I’d argue it’s essential. So take a long, hard look at the worst presentation you’ve put out recently. Think of that as the measure of your visual branding, now boost your image accordingly.
That could mean applying your brand colours or using images that reflect your identity. It could mean using appropriate typography or injecting a little identity into your language. If you don’t do any of these things, your most important presentations will be worthless.