SharePoint branding is mostly applied to intranets and portals, and it’s not just about improving the look and feel of a solution for the sake of it. According to our customers’ feedback, adding a unique logo and a color theme to their SharePoint external portal allowed making their company recognizable among customers, suppliers and vendors. As for intranets, SharePoint branding enabled companies to drive intranet use, build up the sense of community and increase employees’ loyalty.
So, when it comes to SharePoint, is the choice between branding and not branding obvious?
Well, not exactly.
SharePoint Branding Dilemma
IT specialists are divided on the issue of SharePoint branding. Some of them see no problem in it if done correctly. By correctly, they mean that qualified SharePoint developers do branding to the extent that will help to meet a company’s needs. Others, even Microsoft MVPs for SharePoint, recommend keeping the platform simple and refraining from branding in order to avoid possible performance issues.
We don’t take sides and provide an overview of pros and cons based on our experience in SharePoint customization.
Pros of SharePoint branding
- Unique design. SharePoint branding helps to differentiate a company from others. Also, SharePoint customization supports the consistency of the company’s image as it allows eliminating any reference to the platform itself on an intranet or a portal, which can be “overwhelming” for users.
- Promotion of corporate culture. An effectively branded SharePoint intranet improves employee morale, promotes corporate values and goals across the company. If a company’s intranet is aligned with a company’s brand, this contributes to creating the sense of community. It’s especially relevant for international companies where employees working at distant locations may feel isolated.
- Better user adoption. SharePoint branding may lead to functional improvements in UI and UX that make an intranet or a portal more intuitive, for example, by simplifying a navigation tab.
- High ROI. Branding makes a SharePoint solution attractive to users and encourages its extensive use. And this, in turn, helps to improve employee performance and the overall business efficiency, and the solution’s ROI increases.
Cons of SharePoint branding
- High costs of deeply customized branding. SharePoint custom branding (custom code themes, creative layouts, navigation or sliders, etc.) can be expensive and require a qualified IT team that most enterprises hardly have. Besides, a branded SharePoint solution requires continuous support.
- Lengthy project duration. It will take months to implement and adjust the branding for it to work smoothly. So, it’s not an option if, for example, a company wants to automate business processes and improve employee performance via an intranet within a short period.
- Obligatory training. Users need proper training before starting to utilize a branded SharePoint intranet or an external portal. There are training materials on SharePoint like user guides. However, they are not much help when it comes to customized sites.
- Compatibility and performance issues. SharePoint branding can bring about compatibility issues. For example, in case of the cloud deployment of the platform, there is a risk of breaking branding with a new update release for SharePoint Online. If a SharePoint solution is overfilled with branded pages, this may lead to decreased performance, for example, long loading time.
Think twice and seek advice
Whether to dive into SharePoint branding and to what extent depends on various factors. For example, it depends the goals your company wants to achieve with branding (modern and recognizable look and feel, improved user adoption and engagement) and budget limitations. Professional IT consultants will help you to analyze these factors and make the right choice.