Corporate Branding and PowerPoint: Conversation with Frederik Dessau


 
Frederik Dessau is a senior consultant at SkabelonDesign, a world leading agency within brand management and productivity in Microsoft Office. Frederik has been working professionally with PowerPoint (from template, to content) since 2005, implementing not only brands, but also sales processes and project management excellence. Frederik came to SkabelonDesign with a broad background from traditional communication, ad and design agencies. Today he is a leading resource in terms of corporate efficiency within Microsoft Office with a special force (and love) within the domains of PowerPoint.

In this conversation, Frederik talks about corporate branding, in relation to PowerPoint.

Geetesh: Frederik, when we talk about corporate branding, what are the challenges faced by large corporations when they make their presentation templates and slides more in tune with their overall brand?

Frederik: First let me start out with stressing the importance for all corporations to implement their corporate visual identities in PowerPoint. The investment in corporate design means nothing if all employees are not using the design in their daily work. In fact a recent study shows that more than 30% of employees use PowerPoint every single day. In addition, by far, the vast majority of content produced by almost any organization is documents and presentations. Why should we accept this collateral to be off brand?

Just as we embrace, that branding is an investment with a certain return, we should also accept that PowerPoint is a basic tool for the modern workforce. Productivity gains are there to be found, and they can be huge.

Usability

To get back to your question; in the end, most severe challenges related to implementation of corporate brands come down to usability. We are able to implement all designs and design elements into PowerPoint, but if the user will have a hard time recreating it in their own slides, the actual outcome will be messy. One thing is the facets and complexity of the design, another is how well the brand team know their own organization and the actual work that is done by their co-workers. This is by far the biggest challenge to overcome – translating the corporate visual identity into a single (or maybe two) useful templates to be used across the organization. Because let’s face it, we rarely develop more than a few templates in PowerPoint.

To give you an example. It is always a big thing, at least to us, when new features are released from Microsoft. Not that long ago , Microsoft released Morph and Zoom for PowerPoint. Right away, we start looking at the release, and together with our clients we looked at how we could get more brand dynamics into their PowerPoint mix, or if we could change the daily output created by their employees. Have a look at how we inspired Carlsberg with Morph.

Change Management

The next hurdle, in terms of the implementation is user adoption. Even if we have relevance and usability in place, we human beings love status quo – or at least we have a shared fear of change. We have seen how the change of the PowerPoint template have led to outrage with some departments within our clients’ organizations. This has lead us to take change management very seriously. If you accept that the brand implementation is important to you, you must do all you can to get change averse, design naive, subject matter experts to board the bandwagon. Interviews, surveys, analysis, communication and involvement are just a few of our tools to succeed in an environment that can at times be quite hostile.

Geetesh: Can you tell us more about how a company should approach the process of incorporating their brand in their business content, such as slides, documents, and spreadsheets? Is there a checklist that can help them get started?

Frederik:

Involvement and Understanding

As we all know, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. In the same way, the brand team is not done before a representative part of the organization has been involved in the project. Often this ends up with a group of super users, that are representing their colleagues poorly, as their level of work is way too high.

You ask for a checklist, and to celebrate the much debated bullet list, I would like to share my best tips and tricks with you in the bullets below:

  • Involve, analyze and communicate. This phase is crucial in terms of ownership later on
  • Remember the user, think use-cases before making any decisions
  • Do not lock down or hide anything – users should be free, and enabled to do the right thing
  • Test the result of your work before roll-out. Test it with real life content and users
  • Ask professionals – spend one hour now, save 1,000 later

It is clear to me, that involving experts and accepting guidance and advice at a very early stage in the brand development process is key to success. There are no good reasons to not go and see how far the brand and design can be stretched in order for all users to be empowered. Not only to work within the corporate visual identity, but to work efficiently with their day-to-day tasks.

We have data from a recent study showing that close to 100% of employees in regular office jobs from all levels in the organization spend at least one full hour using Microsoft Office (very often PowerPoint). If we can help users save 5 minutes (which we can) it is a huge productivity gain for any company.

You might ask, how we contribute actively with productivity tools except from the brand implementation in the actual template. Well, a great example of a tool we have developed for PowerPoint that offers usability, supports the brand and create huge productivity wins is our BrandedAgenda.

A simple task of creating an agenda, using it throughout the presentation as a breaker, and distributing the chapter title to the footer. It might not seem as something too heavy. At least, not much brain power is spent. Well, actually this is something that might entail hours of work for a single presentation. One little last-minute change will mean a total rework of the agenda and then a thorough walk-through of the entire document.

How often do users add an agenda to their presentation? And how much time do they spend on this? If you ask any user in your organization the answer will probably be “too long” – and various studies support this. So why not make it easy while at the same time being true to your brand. Have a look at the video here to see how agendas should be made.