8 steps to add branding to your presentations

When I do corporate training or public webinars, I usually ask attendees to submit a couple of slides. After covering basic principles of how to transform presentations (and the reasons behind those principles), I show makeovers of the submitted slides. The makeovers help people see how to use the principles on their own slides.

powerpoint-tips-branding-a-presentation-1One of the principles that I don’t usually cover at first, but which comes up all the time in makeovers, is branding. A website is branded. A printed brochure is branded. But all too often, presentations use any old colors — whether the default or anything else. Part of the reason is that websites and brochures are designed by professional designers and presentations are often created by presenters who are anything but that.

Large companies do sometimes have professionally designed templates that match their branding but even then, in my experience, presenters often misuse or don’t use those templates, with sloppy results.

Why brand your presentation?

Branding is a big concept and is a way to encapsulate  your company’s identity. One aspect of branding is the visual component, which can include:

  • A logo
  • A tagline
  • Colors
  • Fonts
  • Illustration and photography style
  • Graphic theme

A presentation that outsiders see represents your organization, so it should use your branding. Even for internal presentations, branding can create a sense of shared purpose among the audience members.  Sales presentations often include some aspects of the potential customer’s branding, as well — usually just the logo and colors.

Just as a country’s flag is a way to rally citizen’s around the interests of a country, the visual aspects of branding help to rally employees around the interests of an organization.

How to add branding to a presentation

It isn’t hard to add branding to your presentations and save the results as a theme that you can use over and over. Here are the steps to take to add branding to a presentation in PowerPoint 2007 and 2010:

  1. I usually start by taking a screenshot of the organization’s website. In Windows Vista, 7 and 8, you can use the Snipping Tool that comes with Windows. I save the image and insert it on a slide so I can refer to it.
  2. Use a color picker program (also called an eyedropper) to get the exact colors from the website. I use ColorPic, but also like Pixeur. They’re both free, so try them both and see which one you like best. I write down the colors or copy them to a text box on a slide. (Pixeur makes it easy to copy the RGB color specifications to the Windows Clipboard.)
  3. Copy the logo from the website or get an image file from your organization. I often see presenters put a small logo on every slide. But this small logo soon becomes “invisible,” that is, ignored. And it’s usually too small to even see clearly. Instead, I recommend make the logo BIG on the first and last slides. Let it be seen! Then, you won’t need it on every slide.
  4. Click the Design tab and click Colors, then Create New Theme Colors. Change the Accent 1 through Accent 6 colors according to the colors you got from your website. If you need more colors, find colors that work well with the website colors. I have a post on choosing colors here. At the bottom of the Create New Theme Colors dialog box, in the Name textbox, enter a name for your theme colors.
  5. Not all fonts are suitable for presentations, but if you know the font and it is common on computers, use it. If not, try something else, because you don’t want font problems. Embedding fonts often doesn’t work. To set your fonts, go to the Design tab and click Fonts. You can choose an existing set of theme fonts or click Create New Theme Fonts to create your own. You can also set the font on the slide master. (See the next step.)
  6. Go into the Slide Master (View> Slide Master). Click the larger slide at the top left to format all slide layouts. Click any of the smaller layouts to affect only slides that use that layout. For example, you could put the logo on the Title Slide layout (although you can also just put it directly on the slide.) I have posts on formatting the Slide Master here and here. You can make just simple font changes or add a colored rectangle across the bottom of each slide– or whatever you want. If you add a rectangle, you’ll see that its default color is your new Accent 1 color.
  7. Return to Normal view (View> Normal) and add some shapes. Select a shape and choose Format tab> Shape Fill. You’ll see your new colors in the color swatches. Try creating a chart and see how it looks.
  8. If you like the colors, save everything as a theme. The theme won’t save your slides, just your colors, fonts and effects. (I haven’t discussed effects here.) Click the Design tab, then expand the Themes gallery by clicking the arrow to its right. Choose Save Current Theme. Give it a name that you’ll recognize.

Now, when you start a new presentation, just choose your new theme from the Custom section of the Themes gallery and you’ll be branded from the start.

If you’re manually changing colors on slides now, think how much time you’ll save. And how much better your slides will look!

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