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Corporate Design in Office

Key factors for implementing your corporate design in MS Office

Key factors for implementing your corporate design in MS Office

Reading time 5 minutes

We’ve written about corporate identity on many occasions already, especially the visual aspects, the corporate design.

The corporate design gives a brand its power – including in PowerPoint

In this post, however, we’ll cover what’s specifically important when you roll out your corporate design across Microsoft Office applications.

A new corporate design is typically set up by professionals who specialize in this for the main use cases. One lead agency creates the design itself, then other agencies in turn implement it for specific applications and scenarios, such as business stationery, the company website, print products, and so on. Specifications are usually provided, for instance, on how a newsletter should be set up in the new design and the department or agency responsible for this would implement the newsletter’s new look and feel in alignment with these specifications. Professionals provide guidance for other professionals working at a more detailed level, so the risk of not adhering correctly to the new design guidelines is quite low.

What about Microsoft Office?

PPT, Word, etc. are pretty much used by all employees in companies, from assistants to financial controllers, and across all departments. However, some have never seen their company’s corporate design guidelines and don’t know the name of their in-house font. Most employees have no design background or experience yet are expected to create content assets in Microsoft Office which conform to their brand. How’s that supposed to work, you might ask!

Templates are helpful – with a clear structure

User-friendly templates for PowerPoint and Word which are made centrally available to all employees are a great help. The scope of these templates can really vary from organization to organization as it depends on how many templates are needed, but also on the level of freedom and flexibility of the corporate design.

Some companies communicate very precisely on what is or isn’t permitted within the parameters of the corporate design. Brand books can span hundreds of pages on specific topics, such as photo styles to use with detailed guidelines on use of colors, effects, perspectives, lighting, and so on, or design layout grids including precise measurements and font size ratios to use for each media type or channel. In contrast, there are companies which only introduce the basics: the logo, corporate colors and fonts, and core design elements.

The more specifications and parameters introduced, the more likely the results will have a consistent look and feel. However, the stricter the design rules, the greater the need is to provide templates which represent all permitted options and scenario variants.

Templates in PowerPoint

We recommend that companies shouldn’t lose sight of the practicality for users when creating templates. A template repository should be structured methodically by topic, purpose or other relevant categories. This helps users find the right templates easily and avoid always using the same ones which ensures some variety, so presentations are consistent but not always the same. A PowerPoint add-in like QuickSlide is designed to bring clarity and structure to templates and provide users with exactly the templates they need.

One-to-one transfer of specifications – not always the best way

Microsoft Office has its own requirements due to the technical framework and specific usage in business communication. The design rules for business stationary, the website, posters and pamphlets are usually not directly transferrable from one media to the next, for instance, with rules for use of fonts. That’s why it’s important to seek solutions which don’t simply aim to adhere to rules but rather create a consistent effect for the brand. Brand elements which play a major role in print assets, for instance, can be adapted for PowerPoint. The same applies to the visual language and elements, such as icons and charts.

We’ve had a good experience with using a PowerPoint style guide as a supplement to the PowerPoint master. It provides users with some general guidelines and offers examples for practical implementation as inspiration and decision-making guidance when creating presentation slides.

For more on this topic, read our post What makes a good PowerPoint master?

Bring specialists on board who think holistically

When implementing a new corporate design, lead agencies tend to focus on the key marketing channels, both print and digital. Only a few consider Microsoft Office applications. This is where it’s helpful to involve specialists who can bridge the gap between brand identity and practical implementation in Office. Specialists understand both the design requirements and the technical characteristics of MS Office. Ideally, they are familiar with the specific requirements of diverse user groups and bring along a great deal of experience and best practice to the process for creating presentation masters and slide templates.

Make the corporate design an automatically fixed element

Companies opting for supporting software tend to go one step further. Add-in tools such as QuickSlide by Strategy Compass firmly anchor the corporate design within Microsoft Office. Employees who use QuickSlide use the right templates and adhere to all the specifications – because the corporate design is already preset. This means anyone can create brand-compliant slides and presentations quickly and easily, including those with no design experience.

PowerPoint template check

One function within QuickSlide is the Corporate Design Check which checks for compliance with the corporate design specifications on slides and within presentations. It detects any deviations which can then be rectified with just one click. The configuration of this check function determines how strictly users must comply with the specifications and how much freedom they have.

There are also solutions for document creation in Word, like the add-in QuickDoc by Strategy Compass. This tool offers intelligent management of dynamic templates. Documents are created click by click using a variety of defined modular elements. This helps users cut through the template jungle in Word, and of course the corporate design is preset in each of these modular elements, too.

Do you want to raise the value of your brand within Microsoft Office?

We can show you how and can advise you on master and template creation and corporate design specifications for Office.

Just get in touch for a chat with us! Contact

Meeting CorporateDesign

Branding projects – a holistic approach

Branding projects – a holistic approach

Notes on the introduction of PowerPoint add-ins

Reading time 13 minutes
Meeting CorporateDesign

Despite the large amount of internal and external communications conveyed via PowerPoint presentations, many brand managers do not focus on PowerPoint when establishing or relaunching a brand. Often, they think it’s enough to just get their agency to create PowerPoint templates and then ask their IT department to install them on all employees’ computers.
If you’ve decided to strengthen your branding using a software solution for PowerPoint, then you’re already a big step ahead – but how will such a project deliver your desired outcome?
In this whitepaper, we’ll reveal the biggest pitfalls to watch out for when implementing a PowerPoint add-in and provide you with the best practice tips on how to avoid them. Our extensive experience of working with large organizations in diverse industries has confirmed that it’s usually not enough to implement a software-only solution. It takes much more to achieve the required changes for the long term.

What do companies want to achieve by introducing a PowerPoint add-in?

Organizations considering the use of a PowerPoint add-in are typically faced with, for instance, a brand relaunch because their name and entire branding will change or because their corporate design is being refreshed. The look and feel in PowerPoint, therefore, is either revised as part of this or sometime later. However, sometimes it is the appearance of PowerPoint presentations themselves that need to change as they are outdated or no longer meet the requirements for modern presentation design. Whatever the situation or setup, some or all of the following objectives usually play an important role.
  • Convey a uniform brand identity across all presentations
  • Establish a higher quality standard for all presentations across the whole organization
  • Simplify the presentation creation process
  • Raise employee awareness of the need for brand-compliant presentations
  • Simplify the provision and updates of presentation masters and other PowerPoint assets, such as slide templates, logos, images, icons, etc.
  • Regulate the responsibility for PowerPoint between IT and Marketing/Communications teams more clearly and simply
  • Reduce management and monitoring efforts for presentations and relieve this burden for teams, such as Marketing or Communications

In some cases, various departments place additional demands on others. For instance, bespoke tools for PowerPoint, developed in-house, are to be replaced with an out-of-the-box solution with low IT costs, or important user groups in the organization such as Sales colleagues require more intensive support.

Corporate Design in Office

What can be achieved with a software solution

With regular PowerPoint tools and Microsoft infrastructure it is almost impossible to achieve a consistent look and feel for your brand across the whole organization in PowerPoint. PowerPoint extensions are a useful addition and provide an array of advantages:

  • The software ensures all employees have access to templates assets and that they are always up to date – and as a result, these templates are used more frequently.
  • Branded assets, such as sample slides, images and icons are all made available within PowerPoint. Digital asset management systems can be connected and used within PowerPoint.
  • Corporate, sales or training presentations are provided directly in PowerPoint, and are maintained and updated in one central location.
  • Slide formatting is simplified, corporate design standards are preset within assets. Check functions monitor for the correct use of colors, fonts and other parameters such as the type area.
  • Presentation assets can be updated by central teams such as Marketing or Communications with no intervention needed by IT colleagues.
PowerPoint Add-in

The potential offered by a software solution is therefore high. However, the reality is usually that this potential is only tapped into to a limited extent. Again and again, large and even medium-sized companies approach us who have integrated and use software but still don’t manage to meet their defined objectives. An honest inventory typically reveals that presentations created in the different areas of the organization still vary greatly in quality and that processes around presentations still run in a similar way as before.
Over the years, we have dealt with such issues intensively. As a result, we can identify some typical indicators for projects which are likely to fail. On the next pages, we outline some of the common pitfalls in more detail and offer insights into the corresponding best practice examples to address them.

Pitfall 1

Lack of competence in master development

Let’s begin right at the start – with the PowerPoint Master. A typical process for this would be: The lead agency creates new design specifications, including those for PowerPoint. Sometimes, they also develop a new PowerPoint master, otherwise this task is assigned to a specialized presentation agency. The design implementation in the PowerPoint master, for instance, logo positioning or color distribution, is coordinated in detail with the brand managers. What’s often not taken into account, however, is the practicality for users. The master rarely meets the requirements for daily usage, and the design specifications clash with user needs for creating presentations.

Time and again, we find that PowerPoint masters that are created without the right mix of design understanding, experience with a wide range of application scenarios and technical expertise, do not do their job. Complaints are thus inevitable, users then create their own workarounds and, just like that, the exact scenario that was supposed to be avoided rears its ugly head again. Everyone creates their own slides and presentations which conflict with the master, everything looks completely different and even the software solution comes under criticism. Even if the root of the problem is discovered early on in the project, this makes for additional feedback loops, creating annoying delays when you actually wanted to be finished already.

Creating PowerPoint Master

Best practice 1

Master creation by specialists

PowerPoint masters and templates are the basis for project success. Place this task in the hands of specialists.

  • They have the expertise to interpret your corporate design and what you want to convey with your brand presence into the “language” and possibilities with PowerPoint.
  • They gain an in-depth understanding of the various application scenarios within your organization, from the general company presentation to the sales talk, board meeting presentations, project proposals, reports and documentation. This is the only way to make sure employees are provided with the templates they really need and can actually use.
  • They have the technical competence to implement design and usability ideas to their best effect. Specialist personnel with these skills can guide you step by step through the template creation process. Ideally, there would be a survey of PowerPoint “power users” within the company to find out which types of slides they usually create, and where any issues or sensitivities currently lie. Before presentation or slide templates are released for general use, they should first be tested by selected users. This helps to eliminate any stumbling blocks early on.

A partner who understands this process holistically can also take care of the internal coordination and involvement of relevant stakeholders for you.

Working on PowerPoint Master

Pitfall 2

Lack of stakeholder involvement

There are a lot of stakeholders within a company, hence there are also many different stakeholders for the introduction of a PowerPoint add-in:

  • the IT department (possibly supplemented by other departments as part of your standard processes)
  • power users who have a strong opinion about PowerPoint, their most important work tool
  • all users who should work with the new PowerPoint extension
  • management, both as decision-makers and PowerPoint users
  • the human resources department, who are responsible for provision of training programs in some companies, and for which they might also be users
  • the works council
  • the Marketing or Communications team who often initiate such a project and engage with the stakeholders
  • the software supplier (and, if applicable, implementation partner)
  • the design agency (and, if applicable, the agency for implementing the design in PowerPoint)

If the introduction of a PowerPoint add-in is handled as just an introduction of new software or the implementation of new templates and restricted to just IT and either Marketing or Communications departments, then sooner or later the demands of stakeholders from other areas will undoubtedly catch up with you. Besides this, you’d be missing out on a great opportunity: To further develop and enhance the work of the entire company as a whole. The sheer number of stakeholders might make it look complex on first glance. However, it’s not the amount of people that creates the challenge, but rather how the project is set up.


Best practice 2

Proactive management of all stakeholders

Don’t reduce your project to just being a software introduction. Keep your real objectives in mind and involve your stakeholders with a view to achieving these objectives. Typically, there are two aspects to this:

  • managing communication with all the different stakeholders
  • content-related provision, guidance and support for the stakeholders

An internal person would need to be responsible for the overall management. However, working with an external partner can certainly provide relief and support. Make sure your service provider holds all the necessary experience in working with companies of your size and in a similar area of business. This partner is there to actively manage and ensure progress with the project in all its diverse facets. They would communicate on the same level as your stakeholders and act as a “caretaker” on your behalf. You benefit from best practice methods and avoidance of error right from the start.

Content Management Microsoft Office

Pitfall 3

Too little employee enablement

Software projects are typically divided into these phases: setup/customizing – pilot testing phase – rollout – training. Post-rollout, employees are usually given an overview of the new software with an introductory webinar. The drawback here, though, is that this initial software training won’t bring about any major changes.

  • First of all, many employees will not even attend this basic training session for a whole host of different reasons.
  • If webinar participants don’t actually use the new software and try out all the functions soon enough after the training, then by the time they do use it they will have forgotten what they learned.
  • Training needs differ between employees, so not every function and feature is relevant for everyone. Many employees are primarily interested in the intelligent handling of templates and other presentation assets, and what all the design specifications mean for their own work.
  • Successful usage of a PowerPoint add-in doesn’t just depend on user knowledge about the software functions but rather how the system is handled as a whole, including processes and allocated responsibilities. For example, the Sales department should not simply upload all their existing sales presentations which currently sit within SharePoint to the new software and expect their efficiency to increase as a result. Instead, it makes more sense to upload modular sales content for presentations, for which there are clear guidelines as to who should maintain and upload this content.
  • Training is usually provided by the software vendor or their partners with a core focus on the functionality of the software. However, knowledge about further content development, processes and responsible personnel in relation to the system is at least equally essential.

Best practice 3

Stay continually in touch

To familiarize users with new software, general training is primarily needed. This should introduce the main features and outline the benefits for users. Introducing presentation content (slides and templates), can bring all the brand elements to life and users can heighten their awareness of the brand identity.
Subsequently, in-depth training courses for special user groups are recommended, for instance, power users or content managers in specialist departments. One great incentive is to offer workshops for specialist departments that have to manage large quantities of slides. Such workshops create an understanding of the capabilities of the software, help define processes needed, authorization concepts and role profiles, and convey best practices.
It is important to continually communicate with all users, as well as with specialized user groups such as heavy users, on a regular, ongoing basis. We’ve had a very good experience with the use of internal comms channels, such as Teams or Yammer, or an intranet or newsletter. This provides a platform to share information on content updates, application scenarios, tips and hacks, and promote the exchange of information and experience among users. Ideally, your partner will provide you with a communication package to use as a basis, so you can reap the benefits of frequent communication without investing much effort.

Trainings in presentation

Pitfall 4

Too many interfaces for the operation of a solution

All being well, once the software has been rolled out, the sense of calm should be restored. However, if there are any issues or if something changes, swift action must be taken to address this. Unclear roles and responsibilities can soon turn a small problem into a major project. Two common examples have been shared with us by our customers who turned for us for help:

A user report to the helpdesk that a particular function within the software does not work as it should. The typical workflow is kick-started: Support ticket > first-level support > second level support > contact with the manufacturer who checks out the reported fault. There can be various reasons for the problem, such as an issue with the PowerPoint add-in software, some shortcomings within PowerPoint, a user error, weak points within the template, or some incompatibility between the template and how it is applied by the user. In the latter, not so rare case, the agency who created the template would be contacted. They adjust it accordingly and then the software manufacturer integrates the new version of the template into the software. However, it’s possible that the agency has not taken into account that this change will create another issue: The whole process will be restarted, and then users will become irritated that their tickets to the helpdesk are still open.

Another common example: A high-level colleague makes a request to change the agenda-creation feature of the software in such a way that even highly specialized professional presentations can be structured adequately. In this case, the software manufacturer would need the agency to create a design for a table of contents comprising more detail. Once created, the software manufacturer would then need to check if it can be implemented successfully. When everything fits and functions as it should, the changes would be sent to the IT team to be incorporated. There are therefore many different touchpoints and different parties involved. It just takes one of these parties to experience resource bottlenecks or to misunderstand something for the entire process to be dragged out. In practice, this can mean the requested changes are not carried out at all, resulting in much frustration for users.

Best practice 4

Holistic support for fast, effective business solutions

The ideal solution is to work with a partner that integrates fully and covers the full range of competencies. Any issues which arise can then be dealt with promptly and specific requirements of the organization can be handled adequately. Through a lively exchange with your contact persons on the software provider side, who will address all these demands for you, nothing will stand in the way of further development of system usage. Your partner should be capable of taking on design, application and technical issues. They should propose working solutions and discuss them with the relevant stakeholders – and then implement them straight after they are approved. Besides this, they should act as a “PowerPoint back office,” for instance, noting requests for additional graphic elements and developing them soon after. As a Marketing or Communications department, you can then offer comprehensive services to your organization without too much investment of time and effort.

Service for agencies

Pitfall 5

Little or no focus on actual objectives

Your goal is not to just introduce new software but to enhance the quality of presentations company wide. If the service provider who implements the project with you possesses a core competence only in the delivery and technical integration of the software and then only some user training besides this, then you’re pretty much left alone with achieving the main objective yourself. In practice, this is often the case so you might experience a well-implemented software project and a new tool but nothing more.

Best practice 5

Holistic approach and KPIs

Formulate clear, substantive project goals then break these down into solid, measurable key results which the project team commit to achieving. Ideally, you should establish a long-term process from the outset – tracking key results, half-yearly of annual reviews, deriving measures for further progress, and the presentation of the results and next steps to management. Your service provider should be in the position to manage the project in line with these goals and drive all related aspects of the project forward. They should not consider their job done once the rollout is complete but rather provide support for continuous development of the project across the organization in partnership with you.

Goals and KPIs

What impact do these insights have on the selection process for a PowerPoint add-in?

Particularly in larger organizations with widely distributed responsibilities, tasks are often divided up between different departments. For instance, Marketing or Communications would typically select the design agency, whereas IT chooses the right software, and Human Resources might coordinate training. Each department may do a good job in their dedicated area, but unfortunately loses sight of the holistic objectives and shared common goal. What can you do to counteract this issue right from the start?


Don’t relinquish control of your selection

If you are in the Marketing or Communications department, you would of course involve IT and Purchasing when comparing solutions or service providers available. Also, the budget for software licenses would typically be handled by IT. However, handing the entire project to IT would reduce the selection to just software options. There are usually only subtle differences between the functions of leading software solutions and as a rule they tend to offer much more than your users actually need. Therefore, focus on the user-friendliness of the features, especially for basic functions. However, the deciding factor for achieving your objectives is what the service provider offers beyond the software. Make sure enough emphasis is placed on such factors throughout the evaluation and that a decision isn’t made based solely on a functions checklist.


Choose a provider that can reduce the complexity of the project for you

One might be tempted to select a provider who offers a quick and easy project turnaround, or even better, a “plug and play” solution. The reality is ultimately quite different, however, and you have holistic goals you want to achieve. Therefore, make sure your service provider is able to offer consulting and guidance throughout all stages of the entire project.

What do we do different and why?

Since 2009, Strategy Compass has been working with organizations to improve the quality of their presentations company wide, strengthen their brand appearance in PowerPoint and make their overall use of PowerPoint more efficient and productive. Our solutions are used by numerous large and medium-sized businesses internationally, with great success. Many of our customers found their way to us and our holistic approach having had negative experiences with limited, quick-and-dirty approaches in the past. In collaboration with us, they benefit from competent advice and project coordination, the combination of brand design competence and technical expertise, a comprehensive training and communications package – and of course our software, the PowerPoint add-in QuickSlide.

For us, the task doesn’t end with the software rollout. We are, and will remain, a partner for our customers regarding all queries around PowerPoint because we want to achieve a lasting impact for them. This is what sets us apart from our competitors.

Are you interested in our holistic approach and want to sustainably improve your branding in PowerPoint?

Then get in touch with us.

Board meetings and presentations_

Effective board meetings with pertinent presentations

Effective board meetings with pertinent presentations

Reading time 4 minutes
Good meetings require good preparation. Particularly board meetings, where participants’ time is in short supply, not to mention expensive. Our two examples show how long-established processes can sometimes hinder efficiency and effectiveness, rather than ensuring it.

Example 1:

A large automotive supplier:
Weekly board meetings on Mondays.

A large automotive supplier, with weekly board meetings on Mondays. Procedure: Participating managers must submit presentations on their respective agenda topics by Friday lunchtime and present them personally, unchanged, on Monday. This means board members have around 300 slides to read each weekend, ranging from detailed spreadsheets and solid text to strikingly presented ideas. Some targeted and well-thought-out, some completely unclear. Nearly all are in the corporate design, but with different, totally individual interpretations. When board members are through reading, they have more questions than answers. Hardly surprising that over the years, they have come to dread the thick folder of weekend reading, not least as they have to sit through the whole thing again on Monday.
board meetings and presentations_

Example 2:

A bank.
Procedure: Board submissions are prepared one week before the meeting in Word.

The Word document is always structured the same way, with the problem, suggested solution and decision required. All documents are read before the meeting, where a summary is given in person before the topics are discussed. So far, so good, but here too, a growing problem has emerged. Consistency between submissions has been increasingly overlooked. 20 major business areas with as many different formats, sometimes on three pages, sometimes 30. The heart of the problem is often masked by detail, and solutions are suggested without mentioning alternatives. Extremely varied approaches and thought processes often fail to produce a document that adequately supports decision-making.

All the presenters are certainly doing their best – not just because they’re presenting to the board of directors, but because they want to achieve their goals. However, the documents and the way they’re presented often fail to provide the rapid, well-balanced information that the board needs.

The result: discussions provide no clear outcome and key decisions get postponed.

decisions in meetings

The rocky road to board presentations

When we work with clients on this problem, a closer look usually reveals a multilevel problem:

  • The board is not happy with the quality of the submitted/presented documents.
  • The presenters (usually top and mid-level management) are unsure how to structure their submissions. What does the board expect? What to include, what to leave out?
  • These presenters are also on the receiving end of documents, such as slides supplied by their departments, typically of varying quality.
  • And their staff are also not really sure what their boss, or boss’s boss, or the board itself, really wants.
The production of each document therefore involves a whole bunch of people having to cope with numerous uncertainties and possible interpretations, and this is the nub of the matter.
Board meetings preperation

Prestructured board submission templates provide clarity

The solution lies in clear guidelines and a clearly specified structure. Apart from having a general schema, it’s often worth providing specific templates for frequently recurring topics, for instance:

  • Status reports for regions, major projects, programs
  • Strategies for business units, departments
  • Decisions about new sites, investments
  • Development of sales figures, KPIs
  • Analyses of trends, markets, technologies

Based on a fundamental structure – for instance, pyramidal – the topics, their structure and the kind of information expected in each section are laid down in advance. This requires intensive preliminary thought but it brings noticeable long-term savings in time and effort. The process itself also provides orientation for a whole organization regarding the board’s focus and how it thinks.

How to run a project to produce well-thought-out board presentations

One tried-and-true procedure follows these steps:

  1. Set up an initial moderated workshop with the board or individual board members
  2. Produce of a consensus on wishes and expectations
  3. Review typical submissions to develop a basic schema
  4. Apply particular examples on selected topics, to test the specifications
  5. Create a generic template and a best practice example per topic
  6. Hold a workshop with top-level management and/or frequent presenters for training, discussion and fine-tuning
  7. If adequate, introduce supporting software tools that intelligently manage templates and ensure they are up to date
Workshop Icon

Experience has shown that this process becomes self-sustaining very quickly. Targets and expectations become clear, templates are available, and the reasoning behind it all is understood. Once it’s established in one area or with one topic, then transferring the process to another area or topic is easy. 

We can support you on projects just like this – just get in touch with us for a non-binding chat to discuss your concerns.

Responsible for corporate design

Implementing a new corporate design at Strategy Compass

Implementing a new corporate design at Strategy Compass

What it’s like to be your own client

Reading time 6 minutes
Corporate Communication Strategy Compass

One aspect of our daily business is advising our customers, on the rollout of a new corporate design across all business communications. We help diverse organizations structure this process, with all the different steps and touchpoints involved, and with the sustainable migration of their new brand identity using QuickTools.

But then we had a slightly different client – us! We developed our new corporate design at the end of 2021. We sharpened our company’s positioning and redefined our brand visuals and language. Many of our customers hire external agencies for this, but we implemented the project with our in-house resources and expertise.

Then we faced the same question that many Strategy Compass clients have when they turn to us for help: How can we most efficiently roll out our new corporate design across the whole company and all communication channels?

It was time to follow our own advice, and the steps we usually lay out for our customers.

One person in charge

Sounds a bit trite, but it’s not. The integration of a new corporate design into PowerPoint and Word is perhaps seen as something that’s taken on by everyone as they go along and create each new content asset. This won’t work, though, especially for large organizations or medium-sized businesses like ours. Someone needs to be responsible for the entire process. Precise decisions need to be made, for instance, should system fonts or corporate fonts be used? So, we too designated a central person to keep an eye on all aspects of the new CI and drive us all forward: Marion, our Design Lead in the Marketing team. Our customers also typically choose someone from their marketing or communications divisions to manage this process, with our support. For more on this, see our post Who’s responsible for presentations?
Responsible for corporate design

Corporate design in MS Office

So, we established our new design – and this is when the real work began. The visual language and specifications we’d integrated into our new-look Strategy Compass website now had to be translated to other channels and formats, in particular Microsoft Office.

We needed to ask ourselves fundamental questions, including:

  • How do we transfer our brand assets to Office?
  • How much creative freedom do we allow? Where must we make restrictions?
  • Which documents should we create and for which scenarios, for instance, PowerPoint for in-person versus remote presentations?
  • Should we plan the migration around a fixed date, or should we aim for a seamless transition?

Answering these and other questions helped us form the basis for the next steps.

Entscheidungen beim Corporate Design Relaunch Piktogramm

Collaboration for establishing frameworks and guidelines

Now it was time for action. The first step was to develop our PowerPoint master and Word templates – documents all employees would use as a basis for their work. Besides aiming for our usual high-quality standard, we needed these documents to be user-friendly. And, just like our customers, we needed input and support. As our colleagues would be the ones using the documents, it was crucial that they were happy with and could work with them. A one-size-fits-all approach never works, for instance, sales personnel have different needs to marketing, management require a different framework to the support team. So, we involved representatives from each of our internal user groups in the development process. We needed a collaborative approach to make sure everyone’s needs were met for greatest, long-term efficiency. We recommend this approach to every customer we work with.

The completed master documents are the foundation for our QuickTools. These are stored within our products and ensure that our corporate design is preset for using PowerPoint, Word and Outlook. In addition, the automatic adaption of older versions of slides and presentations to the latest, corporate-design compliant version is possible with a dedicated conversion tool.

Besides our masters and templates, we developed a Strategy Compass brand book. While master assets have our new design embedded within them, this style guide provides a clear outline of the corporate design so that all users have a good feel for the new brand identity in Microsoft Office. It includes practical instructions on how to use the corporate design, typical pitfalls, dos and don’ts, and tips for image selection. This document is also stored in QuickSlide and is accessible to every employee for reference.

Brand Book

Slide and document pool in QuickSlide

Then we really got down to business. Like most companies, we’d accumulated a wealth of documents, slides and presentations over the past few years. The introduction of our new corporate design provided an ideal chance to sort out which of those we really needed, tidy up our files and put all our new elements to the test.

Our key goals were to simplify document creation through an intelligent modular system and offer even better support for users in preliminary conceptual work. We wanted to clarify the document creation process and establish a better basis for results by asking key questions around the purpose, objectives, target groups and scenarios for creating the documents in the first place. And we needed to take action, so we

  • reviewed and clustered all existing documents, slides and presentations.
  • compared the existing material with user requirements.
  • revised or supplemented templates or deleted superfluous ones.
  • drafted a modular system for creating documents and presentations.
  • developed conceptual support for document creation.
Ordnerstruktur in QuickSlide

A rapid rollout with QuickTools

So, the implementation could begin. Despite deciding on a gradual, smooth transition to our new corporate design, for our Microsoft Office assets we wanted this stage to be quick and painless. Our own tools eased the process for us, just as they help all our customers. 

We used QuickSlide to make all our slides and presentations available for colleagues to access and maintain in one central place. The new PowerPoint master is stored in QuickSlide. The new slide templates are in the QuickSlide Slide Pool. Everyone could create documents in the new corporate design immediately. All our older presentations were rapidly transformed into the new corporate design. The Corporate Design Check reliably alerted us to any deviations in style and corrected slides as needed.

We use QuickDoc to provide all our colleagues with an intelligent system that significantly reduces the number of Word templates. It dynamically fills in documents with the correct elements, such as business data, recipient addresses and signatures. Text modules are quickly transformed into high-quality, brand-compliant documents.

QuickMail ensures every employee uses our new logo and correct signature format in Outlook. All it took was just one central change in the system for all updates to be made available to everyone immediately.

Permissions management

We set up a rights management system in QuickTools to clearly define who would have access to which assets and who can make changes to templates, slides and documents. This creates a clearer overview and a streamlined file-creation process for every user, as they can only view or update the items they really need to carry out their work.

Developing a governance framework

This is how we efficiently rolled out the new Strategy Compass corporate design – but our story doesn’t stop there.

We’ve defined several objectives which we’ll review in the coming months. We outlined parameters for measuring our success at certain intervals and to identify areas where we might still need to optimize our setup and processes. For instance, we’ll track which slides are used regularly and which are not, so we can improve these templates as needed.


Over to you

We’ve worked through these steps in the past few weeks where we normally support you, our customers – and it proved to us once again that the whole process we frequently recommend works very well!

What about you? Are you planning a corporate design relaunch for your organization?

If so, and you’d like to find out more about the process, just get in touch with us. We’d be happy to advise and support you.

Creating Charts QuickSlide Strategy Compass

New functions for creating charts with QuickSlide

New functions for creating charts with QuickSlide

Reading time 2 minutes

Interview with Achim Sztuka, co-founder and CEO of Strategy Compass

Achim Sztuka CEO Strategy Compass

Hi Achim, is there anything new to report on QuickSlide?

Achim: Yes, we spent several weeks working at full speed on a new release. And the result speaks for itself. We now offer our customers even more ways to save time and money when using PowerPoint professionally.


What is so special about the new QuickSlide?

Achim: We concentrated intensively on data visualization. Creating professional reports has long been a focus of ours. Until now, many of our customers were using other add-ins to efficiently generate the necessary visuals. They’d repeatedly ask us to expand QuickSlide into this area so they could reduce their number of add-ins. And that’s exactly what we’ve now done.


How has QuickSlide changed?

Achim: We’ve expanded and improved the functions for editing SmartCharts – growth rates, deltas, axis breaks etc. – and waterfall charts. The user experience is now in general much smoother, plus, we’ve further developed the performance of the Data Connector. It connects Excel with PowerPoint so that data-driven reports can be fully automated, even with large volumes of data.

What about connecting other systems?

Achim: We’ve worked on this too. The QuickSlide Media Connector links media databases directly to PowerPoint. We’ve now used it to connect various other DAM systems, and of course also expanded the available options. 


More functions and greater efficiency – is that a fair summary of the recent innovations?

Achim: Yes, but one other thing is particularly important: Last year, we ran workshops with chart power users at several of our major customers. At these workshops, we openly evaluated where we still had gaps that were preventing power users from doing away with other add-ins, like think-cell®. The new release has let us close these gaps. For many customers, this is a key step in simplifying their IT landscape. 


Will there be additional developments in future?

Achim: We’re constantly developing our products, and of course already have our next goals in the pipeline. For instance, we’re about to launch QuickMail to centrally manage email signatures. We also have quite a few things planned for content management. 


Thank you, Achim, for the chat, and all the best with the new QuickSlide functions.

The new QuickSlide functions at a glance.

Data visualization

The step-by-step approach to data visualization in presentations

The step-by-step approach to data visualization in presentations

Reading time 5 minutes

We live in an age of digital information flow. Credibility and verifiability are important currencies when it comes to conveying information. While facts and figures have gained new significance, they often struggle to get noticed alongside the much better performing visual content.

Data visualization is the art of converting contexts, circumstances, and developments derived from verifiable data into visual objects in such a way that they are, ideally, graspable and comprehensible right from the first glance. Infographics, pie charts, bar graphs, or radar charts are all popular formats.


But how can larger volumes of data also be used to paint an informative picture? In five steps, we’ll explain what you need to remember when creating charts, diagrams, and graphs.

Step 1:

The data assessment

Companies generally have access to a wide range of data. Be selective when choosing the data you want to communicate. Assess the informative value and knowledge gain offered by the data sets. When it comes to graphs, charts and diagrams, the same approach applies as for all other PowerPoint-presentation content: Keep your presentation as short and concise as possible, and avoid overloading it with superfluous information.

Data is relevant if, for example:

  • It shows developments that enable forecasts to be made for the future.
  • It describes pattern deviations that indicate changes in trends.
  • It highlights contexts/correlations previously unheard of.
  • It confirms previously unverifiable assumptions. 

Our tip: If you’re not sure whether certain data is important for your presentation, put it on a backup slide or in the appendix. If a relevant discussion or question comes up during your presentation, you can instantly access it then. This will show you’re well prepared and have thought your presentation through very carefully. And can focus on what’s most important for your audience.

Daten filtern

Step 2:

The message

Data is often multidimensional, which makes it complex and difficult to understand. When it comes to data visualization, it is important to concentrate on the main findings and make clear, simple statements. But this also means you need to leave out anything that’s unnecessary. Excessive detail does not make a chart better. A core statement is not made more concise by having extra aspects added on to it. When handling data, people often fall into the trap of following an almost scientific approach. But most business presentations are not of a scientific nature; they’re about key findings. And the more scaled back these are, the clearer they become.

Our tip: Do you feel like you lose too much information by reducing data to a single message? Then check whether you can address the individual aspects separately. Make the most of visual storytelling, and combine various data representations into a well-structured narrative.

Daten untersuchen

Step 3:

The target audience

Carefully consider the target audience of your presentation, and think about how familiar they are with handling data. While data is seen as proof of certain statements, it often also raises new questions. Always state the data source, and be prepared for questions about the collection method, time frame, and contexts/correlations.

Try not to overwhelm your target audience. Remember, even though you’ve been working with the tables and charts for a long time, this is the first time your audience will be seeing them.

Our tip: Remember the 15-second rule for presenting data. Anything that doesn’t trigger a “lightbulb moment” among your target audience within this time frame is definitely too complex. Test it on your coworkers and scale back your information if necessary.


Step 4:


When visualizing your data, only apply principles that will help your audience navigate and grasp the message. Making a table colorful because it looks nicer is not constructive; it might even end up being confusing. The human brain takes in lots of information subconsciously and sorts it. And there are certain perception principles you can utilize. Give your audience whatever they need to understand and easily grasp what you are showing, such as:

  • A clear verbal introduction
  • A clear heading conveying the slide’s core statement
  • Colors of emotional significance (red=danger, yellow=neutral, green=desirable, corporate colors and competitor colors)
  • Logical reading order (left to right and clockwise, e.g. based on importance and percentage in a pie chart)
  • Labelling and accompanying texts reduced to the absolutely necessary, avoid repetition
  • Learned symbols, e.g. symbols for female and male or flags
  • Important information highlighted—using size, color, or distinguishing elements
Strategy Compass_Favicon_white

Step 5:


Only once you are familiar with your data and have identified the main statement can you determine the type of data suitable. It’s not just the visual attractiveness of a display format that is crucial; its function is too. Situations can be shown differently to processes. Contexts/correlations require a different format to percentages. A list of the most common display formats and their areas of use is available here.

When visualizing your data, be sure to take into account your company’s corporate design. PowerPoint masters are unfortunately often patchy when it comes to data visualization. This is a shame, because uniformly designed tables and charts convey a sense of professionalism, and underline the credibility of the information. Data visualizations are a key part of branding.

Contact us if you want to know how to professionally create data in your corporate design in PowerPoint.

More info:

Also remember our 5 criteria for successful PowerPoint presentations, and follow the OSCAR principle, which can also be applied to data visualization.

Office space with table and chairs

External agencies and PowerPoint: How’s it going?

External agencies and PowerPoint: how's it going?

Reading time 2 minutes

Let’s face it, communication, marketing or advertising agencies don’t exactly get excited about PowerPoint masters or slide templates. The focus, after all, is on completely different, more thrilling issues such as communication concepts, brand, cross-channel marketing, websites and campaigns. Maybe the agency your company works with just sees PowerPoint presentations as a sideline act. Perhaps slides are only really looked at whenever your corporate design is being developed or relaunched, and a master template and some standard slides are created. Maybe PowerPoint is seen as dull or tedious. Organizing how presentations are handled between organizations and agencies is often an operational matter involving diverse factors, and many individual users. 

Get a brief overview of your current situation by rating the following aspects for labor division and quality: 

Checklist Agentur

How much time and effort do you spend on briefing rounds, processes and organization as everyday collaboration with your agency? 

How much expertise does your agency have when it comes to PowerPoint software? How do you cope with practical problems such as external colleagues with no or very little graphic design knowledge or the specific requirements for internal and external presentations? What are your technical and organizational processes for creating and giving presentations? 

Define your expectations of the agency you work with. Get them to explain and prove their expertise. Check that your expectations are feasible and realistic. 

Work with your agency to establish a sensible and feasible degree of outsourcing. Define time-savers, interfaces, tasks and everyday processes. Identify the time and expense left over. Identify the agency costs and offset them against your own expenses. 

We’re keen to know what you discover during this exercise. We’d love to show you new ways of getting more out of it and saving on costs. Get in touch. 


How many Microsoft Office add-ins does a company need?

How many Microsoft Office add-ins does a company need?

Reading time 2 minutes

... and how can you save on licensing costs?

The Microsoft add-ins landscape can vary greatly between companies. While there are always areas where certain programs are essential for highly specialized usage requirements, there’s still some overlap between applications. And this means potential for saving.

Lots doesn’t always mean more

PowerPoint Add-in

When we talk with companies, we often find they use different tools for the same applications. In many cases, the reason is historical – the company has always done it this way. Specialized add-ins, for chart editing, for example, are then added to a broad-based add-in like QuickSlide for PowerPoint. It’s worth taking a closer look at specialized programs, as they’re generally very cost intensive.

Easily replacing add-ins

Some of the specialized and cost-intensive add-ins were often purchased earlier on, and their added value needs to be regularly reviewed. Because add-ins with a broad range of functions, such as the QuickSlide PowerPoint add-in, are constantly being developed further, they increasingly cover the needs of specialized applications. QuickSlide, for example, has expanded and optimized its functions for creating and editing charts in such a way that it can now easily replace specific chart-editing programs like think-cell®.

Saving on licensing costs

Additional add-ins can either be replaced either completely, or at least for users who don’t need in-depth access to functions. Which is generally most users. Specialized programs are aimed at heavy users from specific divisions. “Normal” Microsoft Office users are not their focus; they can find everything they need in the basic add-in they work with daily. This means duplicate licenses can be spared, which significantly reduces costs.

A practical example: 90% superfluous.

Experience from projects revolving around replacing conventional, costly chart-editing program, think-cell®, has shown us that 10% of all think-cell® licenses have been left unused for long periods of time, and a further 80% of licenses could be converted to QuickSlide without any loss of performance or convenience. Only 10% of users from specialized divisions and user groups can’t do away with using the program. Learn more.

90Prozent Kosten sparen

Our consulting service for replacing add-ins

Think your company could save on licensing costs by replacing certain add-ins? If so, get in touch with us. We’ll help you identify the replaceable licenses and systematically leverage your savings potential. Contact us.

think-cell® is a registered trademark of think-cell Software GmbH
Training in the company

Presentation management for training divisions

Organizing training materials in PowerPoint

Presentation management for training divisions

Reading time 5 minutes
Training in the company

Seminars, training courses, staff development programs and company academies are important factors that contribute to the success of companies – at various levels simultaneously. Internally through staff qualification, recruitment and motivation. Externally through customer loyalty and improved sales. Many divisions and departments are involved. From sales and HR to IT, sometimes even a company academy with freelance or permanently employed trainers. The topics are as varied as the participants. And the contents are as varied as the topics. Often involving thousands of slides for ump-teen modules, training topics and courses. Perhaps encompassing both eLearning and classroom sessions. For sure with a whole bunch of overlaps, where identical slides are used in different modules. And depending on the size of the company, with everything in two or more languages.

Ensuring consistent, permanently updated content is an organizational challenge. Or even just knowing that a slide already exists, and doesn’t have to be newly created by each person involved. And the situation gets really critical as soon as changes in format, design or company structure are introduced. In times of digitalization, the magic word is automation. With a few small and intelligent adjustments, you can enter this new era at any time.

Three steps to efficient slide management for training divisions

You only need to make adjustments in three key areas to make life so much easier for everyone involved, from organization to application. Benefits include time-saving, increased efficiency, greater security and fewer errors.


The organizational adjustment

Organisation Icon
Make someone centrally responsible for everything concerning PowerPoint in your company. They hold all the threads in their hands: feedback from the field, and from liaising with marketing, brand management, IT and any third parties or external service providers involved. This gives one central contact person an overview of everything that’s going well – or not so well. Someone who can channel people’s wishes and needs and initiate rapid and targeted solutions by networking with the departments involved. It also allows better management of internal or external service providers to ensure optimal quality and keep an overview of costs. It simplifies things and eases the burden, steering clear of patchwork, go-it-alone or piecemeal solutions. Don’t worry: once the issue has been properly addressed, the task won’t eat away at your schedule . Generally, division assistants or PAs are a good choice. It should ideally be someone who’s familiar with PowerPoint, who is well networked within the company, and is in close contact with management. Please note: this person is not there to prepare your presentations for you. They’re there to smooth the ground, making your work with presentations easier.


The IT and software tool adjustment

IT Werkzeuge Icon

Step 2.1

Define the requirements for automating your slide management. Preferably at a round table in a moderated workshop. Identify in advance all the training modules, topics, courses and the approximate number of slides currently in use, together with the methods of production, the people involved, their roles and points of interaction. Get yourself a detailed picture of your current processes.

With this overview, you can quickly identify your bottlenecks. This gives you a clear profile for software support. Things to consider include:

  • A data repository for all slides
  • Eliminating the “reinventing the wheel” trap, by eliminating sources of error, such as email distribution, sharing central folders, intranet, wikis, etc.
  • The possibility of maintaining and updating all copies of frequently used slides at one central location, also for slide deletion
  • Security through allocation of responsibilities and access
  • Convenient provision of the complete stock of up-to-date presentations and slides when PowerPoint is opened
  • Easy access and precise search function
  • Keywording, with the possibility of centrally defined categories, as required
  • Simplification of slide production, for instance through automation of any necessary translation processes, links to image databases, including icons and illustrations, etc.

Step 2.2

Hold a meeting to clarify the environment and the software support with your IT department. Prepare a document with your requirements to give IT some rapid orientation. Find out in advance which tools could be useful to you, and the kind of presentation management you’d like to have, so that the meeting has a positive outcome. IT needs to quickly understand your requirements, challenges, goals and benefits, so smooth the path for them in a service-oriented way. From now on it becomes a little project, at the end of which all involved parties will be able to handle PowerPoint, and every kind of presentation, much more easily.


The content preparation and implementation adjustment

Workshop Icon

Training divisions, academies and institutes typically have a sheer unmanageable number of slides, modules and presentations. Once you’ve found the software for automating your slide management, first transfer everything you have into the underlying slide pool. Use a well-structured, methodical system, to subsequently exploit its full potential.

Now the newly defined workflow comes into action. Every slide that’s edited, deleted or newly created is correctly linked and keyworded, and integrated into the specified automation process. Gradually achieving your desired degree of perfection.

You can decide to do all of this straight away, or allow a gradual transition. Both possibilities give you advantages from the word go. The decision depends on your available resources and how you view investment and ROI.

In conclusion

A bit of effort, some analysis, a few organizational tweaks and a little project with marketing and IT are all that’s required to send you on your way to a digitalized presentation future. Under the heading “modular training kit,” and with a significant degree of automation, you enable your training division to produce PowerPoint presentations much faster and more easily. And make them clearer and more appealing in the process. Plus, always accurate and up to date. You should plan a three-month project timeline. This will equip your training colleagues with a future-proof system. Time invested in this project though is nothing compared to what they would otherwise have to spend on admin instead of being “out there” delivering training sessions.

Modular training kit

Modular training kits in PowerPoint are part of the “organization” aspect. They are a key focus of the presentation management component of the PowerPoint add-in, QuickSlide. Intelligent integration into the existing IT environment allows presentation activities to be controlled and automated from a central administration, whether in a HR training division, departmental training units, company academies or further education institutes, or even in global group structures. This is a significant element in optimizing input and benefits, thereby enabling staff to concentrate on its core competencies

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