Photo: Phil Waylen (right) with co-founder Nick McDonald.
Companies can spend thousands on marketing and advertising to differentiate their brand, yet not have a professionally created, brand-consistent template to guide their everyday document production – potentially diluting rather than building brand.
Fundamental to building a brand is consistency of output across all branding elements including your PowerPoint and Word documents. I know this first-hand having spent the past eight years providing 24-hour expert formatting and document design to international corporates. They treat their everyday documents with the same care and consistency as they do any other marketing materials produced.
To use a sporting analogy imagine comparing the Black Caps with the All Blacks (for non-Kiwis, that’s the national cricket team versus the national rugby team). Our cricket team lacks consistency and often a series of poor performances is required to spark the occasional peak performance. The All Blacks strive for consistency week in week out and their record is phenomenal. They are one of the greatest sporting teams ever, because they are so consistent with their output.
So how do you fix inconsistent brand output in your business?
Start by creating a template that includes all your branding elements. It’s not just about having your logo on the top right hand corner of the page and a vague representation of your corporate colours. It’s about the document both reflecting your brand image and actually reinforcing it. The difference between documents that reinforce a brand and documents that dilute is in the consistency that only a very well-designed and reusable template can give you.
Best-practice standards of document production ensure that you don’t rely on a logo alone to carry your brand. The biggest and most brand-conscious organisations aim to have documents that you can identify as theirs, even minus their logo.
In New Zealand there still tends to be apathy around everyday Word documents and PowerPoint presentations. It’s a combination of the classic Kiwi DIY approach combined with a “she’ll be right attitude”. Our laid back culture is our excuse for poorly designed documents. Important presentations and reports are often left to an overworked PA to create or even worse, executives find themselves doing this work. Now that could be the most expensive set of bullet points you will ever read!
When was the last time you reviewed how consistent your company branding appears in your everyday documents? Many will find that the output from these documents is damaging a well-crafted brand.
Here’re my top seven tips for on-brand, professional document design:
- Opening Slide Impact – You only get one chance to make a great first impression and this slide needs a powerful image or even more powerful text.
- Consistent Design – No more letting everyone in the office design documents that look good to their eye or skill level. Professionals ensure that brand guidelines are always met, from the size of the font to the style of images and the colour of the titles.
- Keep it Simple – One message per slide and minimal to zero animations.
- Use High Quality Images – Nothing else makes a bigger impact on a presentation than carefully selected, high quality images that reflect your content and brand.
- On brand-colours – How many times have you seen those poorly designed tables in pastel like PowerPoint default colour schemes? Time to ditch the default colours and make sure every colour is exactly on brand.
- Ditch the bullet points – Is it death by PowerPoint? Or actually death by bullet points? The less bullets the better and there are many interesting ways to present content without the traditional and age old bullet point.
- Think of your audience – 40 words max per slide is a good rule of thumb. Unless it is a printed presentation then you want them listening to you, not reading the words on screen.
Phil Waylen is general manager and chief document designer at www.documentswithprecision.com
November 23, 2015