For finance and professional services firms in particular, PowerPoint templates are the backbone of a powerful brand, as they form the basis of a significant proportion of internal and external documents.
When doing a rebrand, or a brand refresh, you should aim to update your PowerPoint templates first, far in advance of your website, social media and brochures. Here’s why:
- Employees are the first ambassadors of your brand, so a successful rebrand begins with them; it’s an excellent opportunity to get them involved and get their buy-in, prior to launch.
- It’s an excellent way to test your new visual identity before it goes public; if some elements or colors need to be adjusted, it’s not too late!
- PowerPoint presentations are editable and reusable, contrary to brochures. A common mistake is to forget to include PowerPoint templates when dealing with branding agencies.
In this blog, we’ll be guiding you through all the steps you need to go through to build your new PowerPoint template.
1. Gather all your new brand elements
Before working on the template file itself, you should collect all the elements you’ll need to update your PowerPoint template, starting with your colors and fonts.
The first step is to list all the colors from your graphic charter and implement them into your PowerPoint style.
PowerPoint’s color palette can contain up to 10 colors, but keep in mind that the first one has to be white and the second one is dedicated to your font color.
Make sure you pick the right 8 main colors as well as the font colour for your PowerPoint template.
Once you have agreed on the colors, write down their hex color code (the 6-symbol code starting with a hashtag) as you will have to manually add this to your future PowerPoint template’s palette.
Generally, it looks like this on your graphic charter:
For instance here, you would need to get the code “#FF4648” to reproduce the UpSlide carmine.
Still with the help of the graphic charter, let’s prepare the other elements that you will need to build your PowerPoint template. Create a folder containing all these elements:
- Font: if it’s not a native Office font, ask your IT team to install it as the default official font on all your company’s laptops.
- Logo: we recommend you get your main logo in PNG format as well as a reduced form that will be more discreet on your slide. Also get a white version if you can.
- Shapes: shapes are a great way to enhance the branding of your PowerPoint template. It could be a simplified part of your logo or a symbol of your brand (like Louis Vuitton’s monograms). At UpSlide we use our iconic bolt as a bullet point.
- Pictures: corporate pictures are a must-have to make a presentation or website more lively, and more human. You’ll especially need them to talk about your teams or potentially customize your front cover.
- Icons: icons come in handy to illustrate ideas and are a powerful vector of your visual identity. You can find some already integrated in Office, which can be filled with the color of your choice. But for a more professional feel, we highly recommend you get your own designed.
This is how your folder should look:
Congrats, you can start now working on your new template!
2. Enter the Master
In this second step, things get a bit more technical as you need to have an idea of what the Slide Master is and how it affects PowerPoint templates.
The Slide Master
The Slide Master is like the default slide layout of your template; each slide you add to your presentation is a duplicate of the Master slide.
To access the Master View go to View tab > Slide Master:
If you try this with your current template or presentation, it should look something like this:
Select the first slide, this is your Master Slide (do not confuse with “Slide Master” tab).
Remember: everything you do in this Master Slide will be propagated to other slide layouts (except for a few, such as the covers).
You have two options to build a new template from the Slide Master:
- Revamp your existing PowerPoint template: just open it
- Start from scratch: open a new blank presentation – we recommend this option, especially if you didn’t build the previous template.
Before going further, make sure you have the right dimensions for your template. Go to Design tab > Slide Size > Custom Slide Size… Our advice is to select A4, as it will allow you to print perfectly sized presentations as well as to adapt correctly to any screen size when presenting.
If you are starting from scratch, or you have identified problems with your previous template that you want to take this opportunity to fix, have a read of our article 5 steps to building a successful, user-friendly PowerPoint template before you start.
New fonts and colors
Let’s integrate the graphic elements you prepared earlier into the new PowerPoint template:
Start with the simple part: click on the Fonts button and select Customize Fonts… at the end of the drop-down menu.
A window will open, asking you to select your official fonts – you can use the same for both heading and body.
You now have your official fonts integrated in your Master!
Let’s do the same with colors: click the Colors button and select Customize Colors… at the bottom of the drop-down menu.
A window will open where you can select all your official colors. Just note that the two first ones are inverted in this view (start with your font color and then the white) and you will also need two additional colors for the hyperlinks.
For each color you’ll need to click on the drop-down menu, click on More Colors… and then enter the hex color code you saved earlier:
When you’re done, name and save this color palette.
You’re ready to unleash the power of the Master!
Now that you are ready, with fonts, colors and brand elements to hand, you will be able to get to work as a slide architect.
Activate the Slide Master mode, select the first slide and pick the text zones you want by default, by clicking on the Master Layout button.
Then start to adjust each text box one by one by right-clicking on them and selecting “Format Shape…” in the drop-down menu.
Check that you have set up the following parameters for all text boxes:
- Horizontal and vertical position on the slide
- Text box alignment and margins
The main text placeholder requires some extra effort as you need to define text levels.
By default you will only see the 5 first levels; you can go through each level by hitting Alt + Maj + Right arrow (or press the “Increase text level” button) and adjust the font, size, format and color of the text for each one.
Define all 9 text levels even if the last ones are the same in case users try all of them. Adding bulleted levels is also very useful to avoid using native bulleted list formats.
At UpSlide we formatted the first 4 text levels for oral presentations and the next 5 for written documents.
Finally, let’s make your PowerPoint template perfect with a graphic touch:
- Add a separation between the title and the body text to increase readability – a line or a shape belonging to your graphic charter for instance. Be creative!
- Insert your logo on the right part of the Master Slide. This is not mandatory of course, especially if you have a strong brand identity (powerful colors, distinctive shapes, etc.). If in doubt, a good balance is to keep only the logotype, not the full logo.
3. Build a slide Library within PowerPoint
Once your Master Slide is ready, you can start declining it into other slide layouts and slide templates.
Slide layouts are included in your Master and contain positioning, formatting and placeholder boxes for the content that will be added on a slide.
You can edit and re-apply your slide layouts or add new ones by hitting “Insert Layout” on the Slide Master tab; if you start from a blank presentation, you can delete the 4 last ones.
Here are the must-have slide layouts you should create for your teams:
- Covers, to make a good first and last impression: just tick “Hide Background Graphics” when designing them so you are not constrained by the Master Slide.
- A summary slide layout to describe the contents when needed: you can add placeholders for your table of contents with the “Insert Placeholder” button.
- Divider slide layouts to structure presentations parts. You can hide the Title and Footers placeholders by unticking them on the Slide Master tab.
- Two to four idea layouts, to help users build their slides: use the grid on the Master Slide to help you position the placeholders you insert (View > tick “Guides”) and add them with a right-click > Grid and Guides…
- Special background layouts to highlight parts of your presentation: just add a background shape covering the whole slide (or not).
Rename each slide layout (right click > Rename Layout) to help users pick the right one!
You can now close the Master – the hardest part is done!
All the layouts you created are available when you click on “New Slide” on the Home tab.
Slide templates are not part of the Master, they are pre-built regular slides that users can adjust with text, pictures or icons.
You can keep them directly in your presentation template, so people can use or delete them; it could be an icons slide, specific design slides… it’s up to you!
Or, if you’re an UpSlide user, you can save them in your Content Library (or as your internal administrator to do so) so that everyone can access these, across the business.
For this stage, we recommend getting the help of a graphic designer as you’ll need to keep in mind several factors such as aesthetics, ease of use, clarity, etc.
Again, here is a list of examples you can provide within your PowerPoint template:
- Oral vs. written slide templates, playing with the different text levels and font sizes
- Scheme slides to show processes and timelines etc., in a brand-compliant way
- Contact slides so users only have to enter their own information
- Corporate presentation slides to provide up-to-date info about your company
- Shape library slides so users can pick any branded icon, logo, picture, etc.
In case you need some actionable design advice to help you create awesome slides and avoid common mistakes, have a look at this article by one of our Office design experts:
> 8 designer tips for PowerPoint
Finally, save your new template as a “PowerPoint template” (.potx file); when you open it, it will open a new presentation by default. The only way to change the template is to open a new presentation, edit the Master and save as a “PowerPoint template” again.
Once you have a solid library of slide layouts and templates, the next step is to build full slide decks for each of your main recurring documents.
4. Recycle your old PowerPoint presentations
The more we spend time on a PowerPoint presentation, the more we get attached to them, especially when it comes to our regular presentations.
But the more employees recycle and adapt their PowerPoint presentations, the more documents get further from the official template, and we can end up with very messy, inconsistent and off-brand presentations.
A good way to avoid this situation is to provide your coworkers with pre-built templates of their most-used deliverables.
Spring clean up
First, identify and list all the main recurring presentations made by your teams, such as:
- commercial pitches and proposals
- quarterly reports
- corporate presentations
Then, you need to reproduce (never copy and paste) each slide using the new slide layouts and templates, from covers to summary and section dividers.
Finally, you should “templatize” each PowerPoint presentation by emptying the placeholders and/or replacing the text with clear instructions – for instance, you can write “insert client data here” or “comment on the results here”.
To ensure that your PowerPoint templates will be used, recruit testers to try out the new templates to build their recurring presentations and ask for feedback: What could be improved? What is missing? Why would they rather use their old presentations instead of your templates?
If you have UpSlide, you can convert slides from your old template to your new one. All you need is to open your old PowerPoint presentation and a slide-free copy of your new PowerPoint template (you can keep the covers and the section dividers).
Once you’re all set, just follow these steps:
- Select one or more slides on your old presentation
- Click on the UpSlide tab > Templates > Slide Converter (or right click)
- Slide Converter pane should appear on the right, select the presentation in which you want to migrate the selected slide
- Then, go to your new presentation, the pane should look like this:
- Make some edits for each slide or group of slides with the same layout:
- Options: we recommend unticking “Freeze colors” so the colors belonging to the former palette adapt to the new one
- Layout Adjustments: pick another destination layout if you are not satisfied with the automatic suggestion. If there’s no matching layout, we advise selecting a “Title only” one
Close the Slide Converter once you’re happy with the outcome.
Please note that you may have to make some manual adjustments as some text parts, for example, footers, will be assigned to default placeholders. All you need to do is cut and paste them into the placeholders you want and reset your slide to refresh the font formats (right-click on a slide > Rest Slide).
For an optimized conversion we suggest grouping the shapes (icons, pictures, schemes, etc.) on your source presentation.
This step is all about making your templates user-friendly for your teams to maximize the chances that they use them and start building new habits.
Before going further save a backup copy of all the work done as people can accidentally break or delete templates.
Now you should have two kinds of templates:
- The main one, including slide templates that can be adapted/filled/deleted.
- The sub-templates of the main recurring documents made by your coworkers (like pitches, reports, etc.)
The best way to make sure people will use the new template is to set it by default when they open PowerPoint.
To do so you just have to name your PowerPoint template (.potx file) “Blank” and save it under this path: C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates\
But the only way to implement your template as default for the whole company using native PowerPoint, is to ask your IT department to run a script to deploy the finalized template on all computers.
UpSlide users with administrative rights, however, have the ability to publish their templates as default to the entire company, and decide the order in which these should be displayed.
- Create an intranet page where you can download the sub-templates you need, simply by clicking on a button like this:
- Use a common folder on a shared drive where you can host your .POTX file and even build a library of sub-templates, slides and elements like pictures, icons, etc.
Establish some ground rules if you want people to keep the template library clean and tidy and don’t be afraid to lock/protect key files. We also recommend making someone accountable for the content stream and monitoring: what can enter/exit the library, what should be updated, which channel to use to make suggestions, organizing recurring meetings/check-ups with teams, etc.
This is it! Your PowerPoint templates are ready-to-use and easily accessible: time to let everyone know the good news.
Start to onboard your colleagues, not only the project teams. For instance, when you map all recurring content, you should talk directly with department/team managers who should also consult their teams to make the recurring document list as relevant as possible.
Then, you can keep them informed at each step of the project: for example, by sending a series of three emails to:
- Announce that templates that will be revamped and show mockups to tease them
- Tell them when the documents are ready and where they can find them
- Ask for feedback after a few days – this is crucial!
If you have time, you can also organize workshops or training sessions to show teams how to use the new templates and integrate them into existing workflows.
You can also count on the project team, managers, heavy PowerPoint users and other ambassadors to spread the word.
Finally, clients will of course be receiving presentations made using the new template; a good practice is to write down their comments or ask teams to request their feedback. Client deliverables are the bridge between internal and external consistency.
For more advice on launching your new identity (not just your PowerPoint templates), read this article explaining how we successfully shared the news:
Adapting your PowerPoint template to your new visual identity is a great investment as many key deliverables depend on it, and the employees using it day-to-day are some of your strongest brand ambassadors.
The process requires many different skills such as project management, graphic design, PowerPoint proficiency, communication, IT knowledge, etc. So, make sure you have a reliable team of experts or an acknowledged PowerPoint slide provider to help your teams adapt to, and adopt, their new official template.
If you are looking to modernize your brand image or redesign your PowerPoint template to match your new visual identity, our Office expert designers can help you!