Long gone are the days when a new branding campaign started with a logo presented on standard business stationery: business card, letterhead and envelope. Now an email signature, Word letterhead template, PowerPoint template and business card are what clients require.
And creative teams need to address this requirement with a better understanding of how these pieces function.
Account, design and production teams all need an understanding of what can be customized in Word and PowerPoint along with how email signatures display on desktop computers and smartphones. Since clients require templates that work across varying platforms and software release dates, creative teams need to understand how a template works and what parts are embedded in the original programming. Only by understanding the parameters of the applications can we design a functional template for our clients to use. Even more important is communicating to the client the design limitations from the onset. Designs have been presented and approved by clients that cannot be built as functional, working documents because the designer wasn’t aware of the functionality and limitations of the medium.
We can customize the appearance of certain areas in master templates by using a placed graphic with logos, images and color, but for the editable areas, we need to use functions built into the original program, and we need to build to the least common denominator in terms of the software version. It’s important to know what software version the end users have for optimal usability.
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Design documents built in a design program such as InDesign are governed by the application software, while Microsoft docs are governed by the computer the document is opened on. The documents behave and display differently depending on that computer’s operating system. A prime example of this is fonts. If a font isn’t present on the end user’s computer, it will default to something that is, which can alter the document’s appearance dramatically. Below are a few considerations for designing these types of templates.
- Functionality of themes within a template
- How the theme travels from user to user
- Theme colors and their application to elements such as charts and tables
- Font styles within themes
- Multiple masters
- Embedding media
- Importing data from Word and Excel for charts and tables
Communicating clearly to clients from the onset, along with designers understanding the basic parameters governing templates, allows designers to create branded collateral that functions effectively.